John Louis Niklaus, PhD., P.E., passed away at St. Anna’s Residence, on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at the age of 79. He was the beloved husband of 51 years of Karen Carpenter Niklaus, son of the late William H. Niklaus, Sr. and Mary Duris Niklaus, and is survived by a brother William H. Niklaus, Jr. (Rita) of Salisbury, MD, his brother-in-law, Albert E. Carpenter, Jr. (Sally) and several nieces and a nephew.
John was born in New Orleans, graduated from Holy Cross School and attended Tulane University on a Naval ROTC scholarship. After receiving his Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from Tulane, he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and served on the USS Falgout (DER 324), and Edsall-class destroyer, converted to serve radar picket duties as a part of the Early Warning System based in Seattle, WA. After completion of active duty he returned to Tulane where he received his Masters of Science in Engineering. He subsequently received his Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Washington.
John joined the Tulane faculty in its Civil Engineering Department in 1963 and became the Chair of the Department – a position he held until his retirement. During his tenure on the Tulane faculty his specialty areas expanded to include structural engineering while also teaching a much wider range of subjects. His teaching and research interests were in computer applications in Civil Engineering, computer graphics, transportation engineering and urban planning. After his retirement in 2002 he continued teaching as Professor Emeritus until 2006. While at Tulane John worked for six Deans of the School of Engineering and six University Presidents.
During his career he served as a member of the St. Charles Parish qualification based selection committee for the selection of engineering firms to perform services for the Parish, the advisory committee to revise the New Orleans land use plan and zoning ordinance, and the technical committee to develop a statewide intermodal transportation plan for Louisiana. He also served the director for the Canal Street Improvement project for the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, designed bridges in the New Orleans area and worked on a wing for the West Jefferson Hospital. John was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Louisiana Engineering Society, the Society of Tulane Engineers, Tau Beta Pi, and the Institute of Traffic Engineers. As a member of ASCE, he served two terms as President of the New Orleans Branch, as a member of the steering committee of the Branch’s Structures Committee, and two terms as Director on the Louisiana Section Board of Directors. He received their Lifetime Achievement Award. He also served on the host committee for two ASCE national conventions held in New Orleans. John also served a term as the President of the Society of Tulane Engineers. A Registered Professional Engineer (Civil) and Land Surveyor in Louisiana since 1955, he was also a member of the American Association for Engineering Education and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (International).
John continued his service with the U.S. Naval Reserve, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander after 20 years of service. John loved teaching and in particular, his students. His students reciprocated by voting him “Teacher of the Year” on several occasions. One former student said “he was always a good sport in and out of the classroom, including surveying camp at Gurley, Louisiana”. John was an instructor at the camp for civil engineering students for many years. He was a life-long fan of Tulane athletics and an avid New Orleans Saints fan. He was an active member of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church.
The family would like to thank everyone at St. Anna’s Residence and Guardian Angel Hospice for their care and comfort. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to either the National Kidney Foundation of LA or the charity of your choice.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Memorial Mass at LAKE LAWN METAIRIE FUNERAL HOME, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. (in Metairie Cemetery) on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at
11:00 AM. Visitation will begin at 9:00 AM. Interment will follow in Metairie Cemetery. To view and sign the family guest book, please visit www.lakelawnmetairie.com.
Published in The Times-Picayune from January 22 to January 27, 2012.