August 9, 2021

AAWRE honors the life and legacy of founding Diplomate William E. Branch, who passed away peacefully in his home from complications of esophageal cancer on March 21.  Mr. Branch was known in the engineering profession as the chief of hydraulics and hydrology and later as chief of water management of the Portland District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Bill was born September 6, 1944 in Great Falls, Montana to William and Virginia Branch. As a young boy, he bonded with his father while participating in Boy Scouts, eventually earning his rank as an Eagle Scout. He graduated from Great Falls High School in 1962 where he met Marcia Andersen, whom he later married in 1964 while attending Montana State University for undergrad.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1966, he entered the army as a 2nd Lieutenant. His first assignment led him to Anchorage, Alaska where he lived with Marcia and their two sons, Kip and Darrin, for the next two years. From there, he went to Vietnam, serving as Captain and Company Commander, assisting with the building of roads and bridges in the Highlands area. Upon returning home, he enrolled at MSU to obtain a Masters in Hydraulics and Hydrology. During this time, the family also welcomed a daughter, Kari.

In 1971, Bill accepted a job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Walla Walla, Washington, where he remained until 1984. He then relocated to Portland, Oregon to serve as Chief of Hydraulics and Hydrology. Around 1996, he was promoted to his dream job, Chief of Water Management in the Portland district. Throughout his career, he had the opportunity to serve as a key representative for the Corps and travel to numerous countries, including Canada, China, South Korea, and the Philippines. Bill was inducted as Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer in the AAWRE's inaugural class of Diplomates in 2005.

Outside of work, Bill enjoyed woodworking, hiking, spending time with his grandchildren, going to church, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Since retiring in 2004, he and Marcia have been traveling the world with some of their closest friends. He spent his remaining days relaxing at home with his family by his side. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, William and Virginia Branch. He is survived by wife Marcia, children Kari, Darrin, Kip [Robin], grandchildren Hannah, Ellie [Joe] Pyles, and great granddaughter Clarabelle.