Passing of Dr Theo van Robbroeck mourned

It was with great sadness that the Faculty of Engineering learnt that Theo van Robbroeck, aged 89 years, had succumbed to Covid-19 in the early hours of 17 January 2021.

Theo van Robbroeck was born in Flemish, Belgium in 1931 and immigrated to South Africa in 1952. He enrolled at Stellenbosch University to study Civil Engineering where he graduated in 1956. He joined the Department of Water Affairs in 1957 and worked on the construction of the Ebenezer and Stompdrift dams. He then joined the Civil Design section. From 1966 to 1969 he worked for Hydroconsults but rejoined the Department of Water Affairs in 1969.

He quickly rose through the ranks and became Chief Engineer Planning in 1975, Managing Engineer Water Resources in 1980. In this time he was study leader for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. He was promoted to DDG Water Resource Development in 1987. He was the leader of the Joint Permanent Technical Committees and the Permanent Water Commissions with the neighbouring countries and the self-governing states. In June 1991 he was appointed DG of the Department of Public Works where he retired in 1995 but stayed on for another year to assist the new incumbent.

From 1970 he served in several capacities on SANCOLD (The South African National Committee on Large Dams) as Chairman from 1987 to his retirement and ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams), as President of the latter from 1994-1997.

Theo received a number of awards over his career including an honorary doctorate in engineering from his alma mater, Stellenbosch University, in 1994. Dr Theo van Robbroeck has left behind a wonderful legacy for South Africa and the international water engineering fraternity of a highly dedicated and innovative person who worked for the good of humanity in providing an assured supply of water for all.

Read the online obituary here.