In Memoriam: William Morgan Marquet


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of William Morgan Marquet January 11, 1992 in Jacksonville, Florida. Skip was 62 years old and on his way to go bird watching in the Everglades.

Skip was born in Syracuse, New York, and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1947. He received his BS in engineering from Princeton University in 1951 and MS in engineering from Columbia University in 1952. Shortly after graduation from Columbia he went to work for Pennsylvania Electric Company in Johnstown, PA, as an Incremental Load Engineer. In 1954 he joined the U.S. Army and became a member of the Army’s scientific and technical program. After leaving the Army in 1956 Skip joined the aeronautical division of Minneapolis Honeywell as a field engineer and team leader. While working for Honeywell in France, Skip met his wife, Claudine. Hoping to pursue careers where they could make personal contributions, Skip and Claudine left Honeywell in 1961 to travel and study. While in Europe, Skip met and worked with Edwin Link on the development of underwater instruments. Link convinced Skip that oceanography was a field where an engineer could make a personal contribution. Link, a WHOI Corporation Member, told Skip of an institution in Woods Hole that was building a submarine.

Skip joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution staff in 1963 as a submarine electronics technician, and worked for Earl Hays and William Rainnie in the early days of the ALVIN program. Skip’s capabilities as a systems engineer quickly became apparent. Earl Hays commented that Skip “was the anchor man in practically all phases of the submersible development. He carried a heavy load of first class technical work, often being the first to point out the need for something, laying out the design specifications, and doing the detailed design and testing.” In 1969 Skip received a Navy Meritorious Public Service Citation for his contribution to the ALVIN team that located a hydrogen bomb lost off the coast of Palomares, Spain. During the years when members of the ALVIN team literally lived and breathed technology into it, Skip gained a reputation for his abilities to prepare winning proposals, manage finances, and inspire men and women. He developed deep-sea navigation and underwater imaging systems for ALVIN which were later incorporated into his work on the ANGUS vehicle system. Skip also participated in many of the major expeditions which took place during the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Project FAMOUS. In 1970 Skip was promoted to Research Specialist, and from 1978 to 1980 served as the manager of the ALVIN’s Deep Submergence Engineering team. In 1980 he was promoted to Senior Research Specialist, in 1991 renamed to Principal Engineer, the Institution’s highest position for engineers.

After a year’s sabbatical in France during 1979-1980, Skip returned to WHOI to establish the Deep Submergence Laboratory (DSL) with Bob Ballard. Skip played a key leadership role in the formulation, funding and development of DSL, and of the ARGO, JASON Jr., and the MEDEA/JASON systems. In 1989 he established the Oceanographic Systems Laboratory with Chris von Alt, where he has been instrumental in the development of next generation, fiber-optic based underwater vehicles.

A quiet man, Skip had a rare ability to see the “big picture,” to organize an approach to problems and find a simple solution. He viewed his position as one in which he could “guide and encourage the team members to pull together and do a more comprehensive and professional job while viewing it to be challenging, fun and worthwhile.” His mature counsel, personal contributions, and engineering expertise will be greatly missed not only at WHOI but throughout the international oceanographic community

Skip is survived by his wife, Claudine R., of Falmouth; his daughters, Catherine, of Sheffield, MA and Stephanie, of San Francisco, CA; his mother, Berta, of Asheville, NC; and a sister, Melanie Burrell of Denver, CO. A celebration of Skip’s life is planned in February.


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