Alexander "Sandor" Tarics
Lessons From a Life in Engineering

As SAME gears up for its Centennial Celebration in 2020, we’d like salute those members who are making the journey with us.

At 102 years of age, Sandor Tarics knows a bit about reaching a centennial. Born in Budapest on Sept. 23, 1913, Tarics is the oldest living Olympic champion in the world. He also is a LIFE  member of SAME.

Tarics competed for Hungary in the 1936 Olympics as a member of the gold-medal winning men’s water polo team. He first journeyed to the United States in 1941 on a fellowship through his studies at what is now Budapest University of Technology & Economics, sent along with several other young engineers to be trained and then to return to Hungary to share what they learned. Each of the engineers selected for fellowship would end up returning to the United States. For Tarics, his return came in 1948. In the years before and after World War II political unrest overtook Hungary. Tarics accepted a teaching position in Fort Wayne, Ind., then made his way to the San Francisco Bay Area in California, where one of the great careers in civil and structural engineering would take off.

Among his professional achievements, Tarics was a foremost expert on engineering to increase earthquake resistance on buildings. He helped develop the “base isolation” shock absorption system, which is used on many structures to protect against earthquake forces, including San Francisco City Hall. Tarics’ involvement with SAME coincided with his firm’s (Reid & Tarics Associates) burgeoning work with the U.S. military; he would go on to contribute to many projects over the years, bringing cutting-edge earthquake resistance engineering to military bases in California, Utah and other parts of the United States.

Tarics was bestowed the SAME Goethals Medal in 1984 for eminent and notable contributions to engineering. In 1987, he received the Toulmin Medal for the most outstanding article published in The Military Engineer.