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You are here : Obituaries : Articles : Prof. Gerhard Jirka

Gerhard Jirka (1944-2010)

It is with the deepest regret that we must inform you that our dear colleague Gerhard Jirka died late last week. Gerhard who had recently stepped down as Vice President of IAHR and also recently retired from his university post, was the driving influence behind the reorganisation of our association which is currently underway.
We have received many messages of condolence and invite you to leave any comments. Read full obituary
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Mauro Pimentel Furtado
I will never forget his kind smile with all students during our summer school in 2006 at black forest.
Maria Magdalena Varas 
Dear IAHR Friends,  
Being the spouse of an IAHR member, I had the opportunity to know Gerhard. I was really shocked by the news of his death. We had the opportunity of being his friend and meeting him in several occasions. He was a person of great human quality, cheerful, and had the ability of making you feel like a close friend. His departure causes a severe pain and represents a great loss to IAHR and to the entire society. Persons like Gerhard are not easily found. I want to express my sincere condolences to his family and friends. I am positive that he is in a better place in God’s company.
Adriana Camino 
My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Prof. Jirka. A big loss for our field. I met him in the last IAHR conference and I was amazed by his approachability.
Bernhard Westrich
I was deeply touched and moved when I got the very sad message about the sudden death of Gerhard. I came to know him more than 20 years ago and, since we met every time at the IAHR conferences. My wife and I remember our exiting joint excursion during the IAHR Master Class meeting in Cesme,Turkey, in 2008. Gerhard was appointed as second referee of one of my PhD students. He finished his written judgement and sent it to me by 21 of January 2010 - but unfortunately he could not participate the examen on 3-rd March. We both are very grateful to him for his kindliness and fruitful cooperation in the PhD research. He will live in our heart and mind.
Cristóbal Mateos 
I have many memories of Gerhard starting in the earlies seventies, so it is also for me a very sad notice and a personal loss. With a so long contribution and service to the IAHR, I also belive, as Massimo Greco and others, that we must make some special thing to mark our gratitude. 
Maria Laura Perez 
Absolutamente triste por la perdida, mis condolencias a su familia y colegas. Un ser extraordinario no solo academicamente sino humanamente, tuve la suerte de compartir con el dos trabajos en Buenos Aires, su entusiasmo y alegria para llevarlos a cabo dejaran una huella imborrable en mi.
Graeme Dandy  
I too was shocked when I read of Gerhard's tragic passing. I knew Gerhard when I was a graduate student and he was a postdoc at MIT in the early 1970s. I subsequently visited him on several occasions at Cornell University.
He was truly one of nature's gentlemen. Always smiling and friendly and so accomplished in his field of environmental hydraulics.
Life is far too short. Gerhard's lasting legacy is his considerable volume of published literature, the lasting impression he made on so many people around the world and his children.
Iehisa Nezu 
I have heard this deepest regret from a friend of Karlsruhe. I met first Gerhard at the Keulegan Symposium, MIT, 1990 and he kindly showed me his laboratory in Cornell University. Since then, I have communicated with Gerhard very much. I visited again Karlsruhe in 2006 just before the RiverFlow 2006, Lisbon and discussed with Gerhard about our MasterClass intensively. I have learned a lot of things from him. Thank you very much for Gerhard’s hospitality and guidance. I never forget him forever.
Frank Ritzert 
Unbelievable ! My deepest condolences.
Just spotted your notice and simply had to add my condolences after recalling my encounters at and after an early '80s Cornell event I attended to publicise findings of a project then just completed at Cam Uni DAMTP on new insight into bubble engagement by vortices. He really was one of the good guys, encouraging wider awareness of this work within his communities and he even persuaded me to join IAHR despite being a disciplinary outsider. Forever indebted.
Roberto Ranzi 
Also in the name of several hydrologists in IAHR I express my condolences to the family and friends of Gerhard Jirka. From his contribution in Vancouver, his vision on the future of hydraulic engineering being open to environmental issues and at the same time keeping solid fluid mechanics grounds was so helpful to drive the future steps of our Association. His death is a great loss for our community.
Anton Schleiss
In the name of all members of the Laboratory of Hydraulic Constructions (LCH) at EPFL I like to express my condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Gerhard. As a young research assistant I had the pleasure to meet first Gerhard at ETH Zürich during his stay as academic guest. After my involvement in engineering practice and coming back to academia Gerhard was the first colleague to invite me to participate in a EU proposal on reservoir sedimentation. He was then also member of the committee of my first PdD who finished in this field. Besides his friendship Gerhard gave me a lot for my academic career. I’m very sad that we so suddenly lost a friend and a such an exemplary researcher. 
Ali Mahdavi 
I am shocked to hear that Professor Gerhard Jirka passed away. I saw him in river flow 2008 in turkey. i read his book, "environmental fluid mechanics", i learned a lot from him in turkey. and i never forget his kind smile. he was very kind. and until now in every places i talked about him. i never forget him. i take this opportunity to convey my heartfelt condolences to his family members and nearest ones.
Simone van Schijndel
On behalf of the HYDRALAB consortium I would like to express my condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Gerhard. It was always nice to meet him during conferences. When we met last summer in Vancouver we spoke about the future of experimental research. It is sad he won't be able to see that future.
Nikolaos Kotsovinos
I was shocked and saddened to hear that Professor Jirka , distinguished scholar and Hydraulic Engineer , has passed away. I express my deepest sympathy and condolences to his relatives and associates at the University of Karlsruhe. I shall always remember Gerhard’s friendly smile and his enthusiasm for both science and life.
Phil Burgi
I too was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our good friend and colleague Gerhard Jirka. I have so many found memories of working with Gerhard both when he was here in US and as he continued his service to the profession in Germany. He was truly an international hydraulician and gave freely of his time to better our profession. He was a great model for all of us in our professional lives as well as for the many students he has influenced over the years. May God rest his soul and comfort all his family and friends.
John Fenton 
Over the years I enjoyed many good times and good conversations with Gerhard, whether to do with work or completely not to do with work. My wife and I had the privilege of recently sharing a delightful meal with him and his friend in Cafe Central in Vienna. After his death I told this to one of our ex-colleagues, whose response said it more eloquently than I: "I can't remember a dinner with Gerhard that wasn't delightful, I am so terribly sad." Me too.
Subhasish Dey 
I am shocked to learn that Professor Gerhard Jirka passed away. I take this opportunity to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family members and nearest ones.  
Giordano Lipari
Like any other friend and colleague, I have been shocked by the news of Gerhard's sudden passing away. At the end of January he had just written "Yes, I am happily enjoying a research life, now without administrative responsibilities, plus time for other endeavours" -- another hint to that great vitality of his that anyone familiar to him would recognise. Since he welcomed me as a guest of the University of Karlsruhe years ago, he had been a key figure in my personal and professional development. I now miss a senior colleague and a mentor. I'm sure that his contributions to scientific and engineering knowledge will survive him for many years to come -- the highest tribute to a life in research.
jaime ordoñez
I feel very sorry that professor Jirka left us so soon. He was an excellent person and a great hydraulician. Two years ago he helped me with his thoughful comments on the Canal del Dique Project in Colombia, and was a part in a three man expert team that review the Project for the National University of Colombia, an excellent piece of hydraulic work, like he always did. I was also greatly rewarded to work with him at the IAHR Council. I send my regards to his family and his many friends and join the Association in mourning for this great loss.
Raquel Duque
In the name of the Latin American Division of IAHR and my own as president of LAD, I wish to express our deepest condolecens to the family and friends of professor Jirka. The Association has lost a very important member, who was well known for his constant and valuable contributions to hydraulics as well as to the organization itself. He leaves many friends in South America.
W. Czernuszenko
It was with deep sorrow that we learned of the death of Prof. Gerhard Jirka. Gerhard was a man of great intelligence, a man of generousity, a friend, and an extraordinary scientist. His spontaneous kindness to others, unheard-of honesty and modesty are hallmarks of his being. His contribution to Hydrosciences was both colourful and significant and it is a great loss for our field. We enjoyed working with Gerhard and still remember his enormous help in running a sound, international conference on Water Quality Hazards and Dispersion of Pollutants in Poland in 2004, he was also a great supporter of the International School of Hydraulics that take place in Poland every second year. We will miss Him very much.
Pavel Novak
This is indeed sad news. The University of Karlsruhe and above all the whole IAHR communitty lost a dedicated leader. I recall our first meeting at the IAHR Congress in 1989 where Gerhardt delivered a memorable Ippen lecture and have followed his many research contributions and initiatives with great interest.
Arturo Marcano
It is very sad news to know of Gerhard ´s passsing away, a great loss for the IAHR community and the multiple network of relations he developed , spread in so many places he visited offering both his talent and kindness .As being said by some colleagues, lets´s model him and his spirit as our best tribute.. My deep condolences to his family and friends.
Chia-Ren Chu
It is a great shock to hear Gerhard's sudden loss. He was my MS and Ph.D. advisor in Cornell University. He was very nice and suppotive to all his students. We learned from him not only the knowledge, also the enthusiastic attitude toward science. We will all missed him greatly. If any other students of Gerhard see this message, please write to me. I want to know what I can do.
Oleksandr Nesterov
The world is small and the life is short. I personally met Gerhard twice: the first time in Delft, and the second time in Seoul. It was my pleasure to communicate with him and I really hoped to meet him again in Athens and then in Muscat later this year, but unfortunately it will not happen... I will always remember him as a very nice, polite and intelligent person, who was one of the best and one of the most outstanding researchers in the field of our professional activities. My condolences..
Gaele Rodenhuis
This is a sad loss. It was wonderful to work with Gerhard. He was sensible, down-to-earth and constructive. We had several activities together, while I was a member of the IAHR Council and as a director of Delft Hydraulics, now Deltares.
Young C. Kim
I was shocked and saddened to hear that Professor Jirka has passed away. Over the years, he has been a driving force in the hydraulic engineering community. As an active member of ASCE, he served as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Hydraulic Engineering Divition of ASCE. He impressed as a warm, caring, and supportive person who has a positive outlook on professional affairs. I truly miss him, and I believe IAHR lost a truly dedicated scholar and hydraulic engineer of our time. My sympathy and prayers go to his family.
George Christodoulou
Gerhard's sudden loss is a great shock to the hydraulic engineering community and to all those who knew him personally. I express my deep regret and condolences to his relatives and close associates at the University of Karlsruhe.
As a friend since the early 70's at MIT I will always remember his sharp and innovative mind, his scientific enthousiasm, his warm and kind personality.
We were looking forward to host him in Athens as an invited keynote speaker at the Environmental Hydraulics Symposium next June.
He will be sorely missed...
Henry Falvey
I worked with Gerhard for many years when he was Editor of the ASCE Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. I respected his professional attitude and his willingness to help both the reviewer and the authors get the papers published in an expeditious manner. The hydraulic community lost a true leader and friend.
Mohamed S Ghidaoui
I’m saddened and chocked at the passing away of a deer friend, a leader, a visionary, a teacher and an exceptional scientist and engineer. Gerhard’s enthusiasm for life and all its dimensions and his commitment to IAHR will be greatly missed. His presence will be dearly missed, but the memories and his impact are with us and it is our duty to pass them on!
Christos Katopodis
It is with complete shock and sadness that this morning I read in the IAHR NewsFlash about Gerhard's passing. His early departure is a significant loss to our international community. Let's rejoice in his accomplishments though and remember that he enjoyed life to the fullest. My most vivid memory of him is dancing Zeibekiko at the Thessaloniki IAHR Congress.
Ana Maria Ferreira da Silva
Like everyone else, I was totally shocked and left with a feeling of great loss. Gerhard was so totally dedicated to IAHR, a great example to all of us with his work and actions, a true gentleman and a good friend. I use this means to convey my deepest condolences to his family, and to his colleagues and close friends at the Technical University of Karlsruhe.
Angelos Findikakis
I would like to add mine to the many voices of sadness on the news. I had the privilege of knowing Gerhard for nearly thirty years. Besides his great scientific and technical contributions to hydraulics, his enthusiasm and friendly disposition was always a positive force motivating all to do their best. A great loss for our profession and a personal loss for all who knew him!
Arthur E Mynett
It was a privilege to have known Gerhard since his MIT days in the late 70's where I was a student and Gerhard did his postdoc. We have kept in touch ever since and joined forces in strengthening and reshaping IAHR.
I vividly remember his active involvement as Vice President during the joint Hydroinformatics / Ecohydraulics conference in Concepcion, Chili, January 2009. I believe he extended his stay to enjoy his favourite tango dancing ...
More recently in December 2009 we both contributed to the Croucher Workshop in Hong Kong. Gerhard was impressed with the progress made by the local community in the field of tango dancing since the previous workshop in 2002 ...
Together with some other IAHR members we enjoyed a leisurely saturday afternoon at the HK Jockey Club, departing with the expectation to meet again at the Environmental Hydraulics Conference and Council Meeting in Athens, June 2010.
Unfortunately it was not to be ...
Roger Falconer
I too was at the Croucher Workshop with Gerhard and - as always - enjoyed his company, his enthusiasm for life and his commitment to IAHR.
I had the honour and privilege of working with Gerhard on the name change and, to a lesser extent, the restructuring of IAHR. His commitment to IAHR's future and his vision is something for which I shall always personally remember him. I believe IAHR is now on an exciting and forward looking path and we owe so much to Gerhard for his efforts, commitment and dedication to our association's future. We also owe it to Gerhard to make sure that we pick up the challenge that he has left us and that we take forward positively the new structure: his legacy to IAHR.
Prof. Eldho T.I.
I am deeply shocked to hear this news. I can not belive that Prof. Jirka is no more. Prof. Jirka was my role model in research and acdemic actvities. Let his soul rest in peace.
Allen Bateman
I am desolate. He was a friend, a professor, a collaborator of mine during the last 10 years. We always enjoyed his enthusiasm, his point of view of life, his deep understanding of nature. We will miss him.
Andreas Dittrich
I also deeply regret the unexpected loss of Gerhard. He always impressed me with his positive attitude, scientific competence and enthusiasm which I appreciated not only in the organisation of the River Flow conference. His loss will leave a deep gap.
Richard A. Denton
I am very saddened to hear of Gerhard's passing. I first met Gerhard when he was working on stratified flow at Cornell. I also worked with Gerhard on an ASCE committee on density currents and on the local organizing committee for the IAHR 1997 Congress in San Francisco. I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to interact with him during his subsequent time at Karlsruhe. He was always very friendly and welcoming. For that, and his many technical and leadership contributions, he will definitely be missed.
Peter Rutschmann
I am deeply shocked by Gerhards unexpected death. I shall keep Gerhard as an always positive and enthusiastic colleague in mind. Even though highly reputed he always had time, advice and encouragement for others - a real friend! I would like to express my deepest condolences to his family and friends.
M.Hassan Nasermoaddeli
It was a very sad and shocking news. I had just the opportunity to get to know him personally in Delft (2008)during the summer school and the last time in Riverflow2008. He was kind, cooperative and had a great personality and specially deep knowledge in the theory of dispersion of plums.
Liaqat Khan
I was a student and a teaching assistant of Prof. Jarka while studying at Cornell University. His scientific and engineering achievements are well know. I always admired his insights helpfulness in every aspect of life. I am sadden to learn the news that he is no longer with us. My thoughts and prayers are with his family members.
Adnan Alsaffar
The hydraulic community lost a great friend and a leading scientisit. I worked with Gerhard for several years on ASCE committiees, and in organizing the IAHR 1997 Congress. I certinly will miss him.
Professor B. S. Mazumder
His sudden demise brings a great loss to the Scientific World. May his soul rest in peace.
João Rocha
It was a privilege to have known Gerhard in MIT in yearly 70's, and my remembrance of the Thanksgiving Day in the house of Professor Donald Harlemann, with more other Research Assistants, was kept in touch forever.
Gerhard was a great example to me with his work and actions, and a good friend, helping me and other Portuguese colleagues, meeting him several times until the RiverFlow 2006 conference held in Lisbon.
I convey my condolences to his family and to his colleagues and close friends at the Technical University of Karlsruhe and I pray for him.
Adrian Law
I shall always remember Gerhard as a true gentleman, positive, friendly and always with a smile whenever we had a chance to meet and talk. I was fortunate to meet him twice last year (Vancouver and HK), and he was also kind enough to be the examiner of a PhD student of mine last year despite his busy schedule. My deep condolence to his family.
Massimo Greco
I too have been left with no words, his last memory being when he was leaving Vancouver for climbing the Rockyies… I think we all owe him, as IAHR and as his friends and colleagues, a lot. And would suggest to honor him during the Edimburgh Conference, and plan for something to be done in his name.
Antonio Cardoso
I would not be able to say anything more appropriate than Ramon, Marian or Etienne. For a few minutes I kept without words and I am still trying to react.
I met Gerhard the first time in Tokyo, during the IAHR congress, both walking to the hotel. We had a nice talk and we kept in touch since then.
In recent years he has helped immensely the Portuguese hydraulics community at several levels and occasions: supervising young researchers in emerging topics, supporting and influencing the organization of the RiverFlow 2006 conference held in Lisbon, understanding our disappointment for loosing the candidacy to organize the 2013 IAHR Congress ... so many small big things and attitudes. I would like to leave this testimony since I am sure that the Pt hydraulics community shares my feelings of immense loss for us all.
As one of you has already said, I am sure that his spirit and example will remain among us.
Jean Cunge
It is a shock and enormous lost for hydraulics, research and the IAHR. Gerhardt had so high quality of mind and also he has been so devoted to the Association - and definitely too young to disappear. It is sad and very unfortunate for all who knew him and had a chance to work with him. There is no consolotaion - we can only forward to his family our feeling of lost of somebody we appreciated highly and whom we regret deeply.
Jean-Paul Chabard
Nothing to add to the words by Etienne, Marian, Ramon and others. It is such a great shock for all of us. We shall all miss him so much...
Marian Muste
It is above words to describe the many Gerhards that we will miss from now on.
I am sure that his spirit and example will continue to live in the Council, IAHR, and the research and academic communities.
Panayotis Prinos
Deep sadness from the unexpected loss of Gerhard. We all will remember him for his scientific achievements, his contribution to IAHR and his dedication to excellence.
Ramón Gutiérrez Serret
I have just read the email, and I can not really believe the very sad notice. What a big shock for all of us. IAHR never will forgot Gerhard, his activities, his recently proposal for the important change we implement in our Association in Vancouver. He was always ready to serve and to help!
We have lost an enthusiastic member and a friend. Always we will have Gerard in our memory.
Etienne Mansard
Needless to say that this news came as a great shock to me, mixed with some disappointment in a way because he was such a diligent and friendly personality who still had a lot contributions to make. IAHR has indeed lost a loyal member whose dedication to the Association was invaluable. During my tenure in the council, I always valued highly Gerhard's wisdom and opinions. It was a true pleasure to have had him as part of the Executive Committee to go through some difficult and delicate decision making process.
I have no doubt that many people of our Community will react to this sad news with shock and think about the close association they had with him as a colleague as well as a fine firend. His contribution to the assocition was often attested by the large number of votes that he used to secure in every election, since he became a council member.
Philippe Gourbesville
No words to add. Charles Baudelaire said "Only music can talk about death". Gerard was a great fan of music and tango. I just want to keep in mind this good time spent with all of us.
Erich Plate
The sudden death of Gerhard is a great loss to our association - I had seen him as one of the future presidents - but is an even greater loss to the University of Karlsruhe, where he had taught the last fifteen years. He retired only last October, and left many matters unfinished - among them his efforts in creating a substantial new research area within the university, which was to combine the talents of the university with the great capacities of the Karlsruhe Research Center - (University and Research Center had just been joined to form the Karlsurhe Institute of Technology). He has been an esteemed colleague, who worked hard to uphold the great tradition in hydraulics of our Karlsruhe University, as successor to Eduard Naudascher. We shall miss him very much.
Akira Wada
I could not believe Gerhard Jirka's sad news and had big shocked.
Our first meeting was at M.I.T. in US, when he was still graduate student, and final meeting was Thessaloniki in Greece.
He had been evolved gravitational plume theory consistently and looked delightful.
I pray for the repose of his soul.
Henk Jan Overbeek
What a deeply sad message about the sudden death of Gerhard. A dear friend of many - all around the world - passed away.
I enjoyed working with Gerhard and particularly meeting and talking with him during our biannual conferences. When he moved to Karlsruhe in the mid 1990's we could meet more frequently because Karlsruhe and Delft are not that far apart.
I followed his work in Council from a distance of course, but was impressed by his dedication, enthusiasm and energy.
We have lost a great 'hydraulician' which will be missed by many.
Arthur Mynett
words can not describe ...
only few weeks ago some of us had the privilege to team up with Gerhard during a Croucher Workshop organized by Joseph Lee in Hong Kong; Gerhard lectured with his usual great enthusiasm and vast experience on the hydrodynamics of marine outfalls and the implications for coastal zone management.
together with some IAHR friends (Peter Davies, Tobias Bleninger, Mohammed Ghidaiou, Joseph, ...) we enjoyed the pleasure of Gerhard's company on an afternoon satur'day at the races' before saying goodbye, looking forward to meet again at the Environmental Hydraulics Conference and Council Meeting in Athens, coming June.
it was not to be ...
surely we will all remember his dedication and enthusiasm for IAHR; let us continue in his spirit - that is probably the best tribute we can give to Gerhard ...
Reinhard Hinkelmann
with very great sadness I read the email about the death of Gerhard Jirka.
I think our world of water has lost a visionary. I had the pleasure and honour to collaborate with him during the last years in the framework of the Engineering Graduate School Environment Water (EGW) as well as the Committee on Education and Professional Development (EPD) and other IAHR matters.
All the time he was very enthusiastic to push education related and many other things. I think IAHR members are very grateful to his numerous contributions he has given over many years, finally leading IAHR to a new name and new structure for the future.
I recall a number of discussions and conversations I had with him. His opinions, suggestions and advice were very helpful for me and I will miss them. He also was the co-advisor of my habilitation.div>
Looking back to the Vancouver Congress, I am glad that we have had a couple of talks, and of course I am now very sad.
Dr. Christopher George
It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the death of IAHR Council Member Gerhard Jirka following a massive heart attack late last week. Gerhard was for several days in a coma - but never recovered.
Gerhard who had recently stepped down as Vice President of IAHR and also recently retired from his university post, was the driving influence behind the reorganisation of our association which is currently underway.
Nobuyuki Tamai
I have nothing to add to the words by our colleagues. The news is a great shock for all of us and IAHR. IAHR has lost a dedicated member.
Especially during last two years his team, Structure Change TF, completed a very elaborate plan to create a new structure under the tradition of the association. His contribution to the association shall remain in the memory of whole members of IAHR.


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