Mark Allen Ketchum led a joyous, remarkable life, which sadly ended much too soon. He was an outstanding structural engineer, a loving and devoted husband, father and brother for his family, and a wonderful friend for many.
Mark was born in Denver, Colorado on January 23, 1954 to Gretchen and Milo Ketchum, joining his brothers David and Matthew, and sister Marcia. He received his BS in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and then moved to California to get his MS and PhD in Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley, specializing in structures. He cofounded the engineering firm OPAC with his partner Kwong Cheng in 1992, working in collaboration with Professor T.Y. Lin. He formed deep business and personal relationships that lasted over time and extended to everyone in the firm; OPAC was like a second family for him. Mark and OPAC are internationally known for their award-winning, innovative engineering projects and bridge designs built throughout the world. Local examples of his well-known work include the Berkeley Pedestrian Overcrossing and the Carquinez Suspension Bridge. Details and photographs of all his projects can be seen at www.opacengineers.com. Mark and his colleagues at OPAC also cofounded an engineering website, www.cetoday.com, that aims to advance the knowledge and practice of civil engineering.
Mark loved talking about bridges and appeared on many television programs, including Discovery Channel, PBS’s American Experience, and local news. He made even the most technical details understandable and engaging.
Mark died on February 24, 2014 in his home in Berkeley, in the company of his loving wife, Valerie Knepper, and their loving sons, Daniel and Calvin Ketchum. He is also survived by his sister Marcia Baird and brother, David Ketchum. Mark was known for his love of motorcycles, sailing, great stories, and terrible jokes.