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Prof. David Jannsen passes away in September
Author: Victor C. Dahl
Posted: October 21, 2013

In Memoriam: David Alexander Jannsen, 1928-2013

David A. Jannsen, emeritus associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, died from natural causes on September 19, 2013, at his Clackamas residence. He was 85.

In 1955, Prof. Jannsen joined the Engineering and Applied Science faculty at the recently renamed Portland State College. That institution that had evolved from an extension center formed in 1945 to accommodate returning veterans seeking higher education into a growing college that would become a comprehensive university. In 1955 most of the pioneer institution’s curricular offerings concentrated on general studies courses. Prof. Jannsen came to the institution at a crucial time, and his professional contributions to expand engineering instruction lead to the development of the present-day Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.

At the outset, he spread his efforts almost equally between teaching basic engineering courses to large classes and providing essential lower division student program advising. For many years he served as the initial contact advisor for most students who pursued instruction in the Department of Engineering and Applied Science. Subsequently, he actively engaged with university-wide committees assigned to improve instructional effectiveness, and he promoted outreach to business and government agencies that would employ graduates of PSU’s various engineering programs. He regularly engaged in conferences offered by scientific and professional societies. For his achievements, he was promoted to assistant professor in 1959, to associate professor in 1982, and in 1988 he retired as emeritus associate professor.

A native Oregonian, Prof. Jannsen attended Clackamas and Oregon City public schools prior to attending Portland’s Multnomah College (1945 to 1948), where he completed an associate degree, before entering Oregon State University where he earned a bachelors degree (1950) in Industrial Engineering. 

Upon graduation from OSU, he worked for two years in a family-owned well-drilling firm. During the Korean War era he served as a United States naval officer (1952-1955) as an administration and security officer holding shipbuilding supervisorial responsibilities at the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn.

In 1953 during his naval service, he met and married Ellie White, and to their union was born: Steve (Shannon); Lois (Bill); Brian (Val); Connie (Ken); twelve grandchildren; and, four great-grandchildren, all of whom survive him. Dave and Ellie were longtime RAPS members and our organization extends its heartfelt sympathy to her and her children.

Prof. Jannsen nurtured a wide variety of intellectual interests. A lifelong violinist, he performed with the East County Community Orchestra and other music groups. He actively participated in many church activities, including preaching and facilities maintenance. Devotion to the outdoors prompted him to harvest timber on a personally owned, three-acre timber tract in Estacada, located near the Eagle Fern Camp, an inter-denominational retreat center with special youth outreach. 

Remembrances honoring Prof. Jannsen may be directed to Eagle Fern Camp, 37700 SE Camp Road, Estacada OR 97023.

At a Celebration of Life memorial held September 28, 2013, at East Gate Bible Church, a colleague thoughtfully stated: “We will always remember Dave who thought the best of others and helped our students to the fullest.”

For his long years of dedicated service at laborious, demanding tasks in fulfillment of our educational mission, the PSU community owes Prof. Jannsen a lasting debt of gratitude.

-Victor C. Dahl, Emeritus Professor of History, October 20, 2013.