William “Bill” Bonini

William “Bill” Bonini, the George J. Magee Professor of Geophysics and Geological Engineering, Emeritus, and professor of geosciences and civil engineering, emeritus, passed away Dec. 13, 2016.

5 thoughts on “William “Bill” Bonini

  1. Dennis Powers

    Although I did not feel that I knew Bill Bonini well during my brief residency at Princeton (1972-1975), he had a profound effect on my professional career.

    In the spring of 1975 (not a great time for job-seeking), Bill came down to my lower level office and said, “I think I have found an opportunity that might be just the thing for you.” Or words to that effect.

    In short, he connected me with Les Hill (Ph.D. from Princeton) at Sandia National Laboratories. Les had been looking for someone to work on the project now known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. Although he recruited Princeton regularly for engineering, geology had not been a field to harvest until then. Apparently Les found whatever had eluded him in a long search, and I joined Sandia in August 1975. Five years later I succeeded Les as supervisor of the Earth Sciences Division. In 1983, Al Lappin followed in that position after I left for a brief excursion in academia at UTEP. (I worked with Les to recruit Al to Sandia in 1976.) In 1988, I ventured into consulting and have been busy ever since.

    I don’t know what Bill saw in me or knew of me to suggest Sandia would be a good fit. I did get to say thanks at a meeting once. But he was right, and my professional life took a path unexpected, but very rewarding.

  2. Dr. James Kellogg

    When I arrived at Princeton as a grad student in 1976, I was warned that Bill Bonini was a drill sergeant, and I should remove him from my committee. Later, after talking with Bill about dissertation projects in Venezuela, he again joined my committee. Over the next four years, he provided a research project for me, went with me to the Venezuelan jungles of the Sierra de Perija (the Venezuelans call this “El Fin del Mundo”), picked off tiny ticks, walked by mapanare (very aggressive and poisonous snakes), avoided the Guardia Nacional, controbandistas, and Motilones bravos indians (the Motilones had killed about 200 oil company geologists before my arrival), and kept me out of a Venezuelan jail. Bill was a great scientific mentor, a resourceful field geophysicist, easy-going, practical, and down-to-earth despite his achievements. Bill was responsible, more than anyone else, for making the years at Princeton so productive and memorable. He was a good man. I will always be indebted to him, and I miss him.

  3. Neal McLlain

    I met Bill Bonini just once, in 1952, when I accompanied him on a trip to YRBA led by Dr. Taylor Thom. Bonini was one of four grad students on that trip. I was one of three high-school students invited to join the trip. Bonini took a special interest in passing his knowledge along to us high-school students. I took a photo of him when he was describing a sandstone concretion. Photos of that trip are posted here:

  4. Neal McLain

    Further to my previous post (July 21, 2017) I would like to donate these slides to someone who knew Prof. Bonini. I have offered them to the Princeton Library but they declined because the trip was not an official University event. If anybody is interested in receiving these slides please contact me,
    Neal McLain
    nmclain (at) annsgarden.com
    +1 979 798 -2284

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *