One of the sadder parts of reporting this story is that so many of Azorian's key figures passed away before I could meet them. Others I was fortunate to meet and speak with just in time, as they passed away shortly thereafter. I'm thrilled to have been able to record their stories before they were lost. That was the case with Dave Toy and Steve Kemp. And I recently learned that another important figure from my research has left us -- Jacques Hadler, the brilliant naval architect and hydrodynamicist from the Webb Institute. He was 99.
Hadler was a towering figure in the field of ship and submarine design, and lived a long, full life, leaving behind a resume that's almost ridiculous to read. He influenced ships directly, of course, but maybe more importantly by training generations of future architects at Webb.
I spent a lovely afternoon with Jack in his office at Webb, which is a beautiful place on the north shore of Long Island, centered around an old mansion that stood in for Wayne Manor in one of the Batman movies. He told many wonderful stories, but the thing that stuck with me the most was that he, at age 96, was still commuting by car every week from the home outside Washington DC he shared with his wife to Long Island, via I-95. That's one of the most traffic-choked routes in America, a trip that can drive even the most zen individuals crazy, and it shows how much he loved both his wife and his job. Rest in peace, Jacques. Thanks for everything you did for this country.
If you'd like to read a little more about him, here's Webb's obituary, which links to a short autobiography Hadler wrote himself, for his family.