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Obituary: Sorensen, Dr. Harold Charles “Hal”

Age 79

SORENSEN, Dr. Harold Charles “Hal” (Age 78) Passed away on December 16, 2013, in Pullman, Washington. He was born on December 21, 1934 in Bancroft, Nebraska to Herman N. and Astrid (Berg) Sorensen. Harold, or “Pete” to his friends, grew up in Bancroft, Nebraska. He graduated from Bancroft High School in 1952 as the class salutatorian and was a member of the basketball, football and track teams. After high school he attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and played on the Cornhusker football team. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1957, a Master of Science in Engineering Mechanics in 1962, and a PhD in Engineering Mechanics in 1966. Harold began his career designing bridges at the Nebraska State Highway Department of Roads. He was a member of the University of Nebraska ROTC program and served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Upon receiving his doctorate degree, Harold spent over 30 years as a faculty member of the Washington State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as an academic teacher and researcher, in Pullman, Washington. Professor Sorensen loved teaching and was admired for his ethics, principles and high standards both in the classroom and in life; no hats, no sleeping and no reading the paper in his classroom! One of Dr. Sorensen’s favorite subjects to teach was the engineering summer survey class held near White Pass, Washington. Harold received his Professional Engineer License in 1961 and his Structural Engineer License in 1979, allowing him to consult on interesting private and state design projects throughout his career. He was a member of numerous professional organizations throughout his career and was honored by the 1982 Washington State Engineer of the Year and the1988 ASCE AT&T Regional Award for outstanding contributions to the Engineering Teaching Profession. Harold married Karen Beatrice Fadschild in 1960 at the First English Lutheran church in Rising City, Nebraska. Karen was an excellent cook and the farm girl of his dreams. He savored Karen’s delicious meals during their 53 years of marriage. Harold and Karen started their family in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then moved to Pullman in 1966, where they have resided for the past 47 years. Harold was a member of the Pullman Presbyterian Church and served as a Deacon, Elder and Treasurer. Ever the avid athlete, he taught himself the game of handball and golf, winning countless tournaments and thoroughly enjoyed the sportsmanship and challenge of these games. Harold was a long-time member of the Clarkston Golf and Country Club. He loved card games and played bridge, poker and cribbage. Fishing was also a favorite hobby. Harold is survived by his spouse Karen of Pullman, Washington; his son, Alan (Shona) Sorensen of Pullman, Washington; his daughter, Pamela (Mike) Davis of Covington, Washington; two grandsons, Ryan and Kevin; one granddaughter, Jennifer; three sisters, Betty Palmer of Livermore, CA, Joan Forney of Sparks, NV, and Delores Mendoza of Livermore, CA. Harold was preceded in death by his parents; his four brothers Francis Sorensen, George Sorensen, Harlan Sorensen and Donald Sorensen; and his four sisters Lorraine Pizziol, Helen Sorensen, Dorothy Ericson, and Karen Palmer. No funeral service will be held at this time. The family wishes to share loving memories of Harold privately with friends and family. Condolences may be sent to In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to: the Harold Sorensen Scholarship Fund at the WSU Foundation, Washington State University, PO Box 641925, Pullman, WA, 99164-1925, or the Pullman Child Welfare Association, PO Box 521, Pullman, WA, 99163. The family wishes to give special gratitude to Harold’s best friend, Bill Gaskins, of Pullman, Washington, for his life-long camaraderie, love and support, especially during the past several years. Bill and his wife, Felicia, are angels to the Sorensen family. Harold will be greatly missed by his family, friends and students. John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”