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Victor Milligan was born in Northern Ireland and graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1951 with a BSc in civil engineering. He followed this up with a M.Sc. in soil mechanics at Queen’s and then worked as a research fellow at Purdue University. Victor emigrated to Canada in 1955 and worked for Geocon Ltd., where he rapidly rose to the position of Chief Engineer.
In 1960, at 30 years of age, he partnered with Dr. Hugh Golder to found Golder Associates.
Victor Milligan was recognized throughout the world as an expert in geotechnical engineering and especially in the fields of dams & embankments and soft ground tunnels. He worked on in excess of 150 separate dam projects and wrote extensively, with over 50 published papers.
He received two honorary doctorates—from Queen’s University in Belfast and Waterloo University in Canada—and was recognized with a number of prestigious awards including Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the U.K., where only 70 such persons are allowed from overseas.
Victor was both one of the founders and the initial editor of the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, president of the Consulting Engineers of Ontario, vice president for North America of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineers, and the recipient of five separate medals and awards, including the Thirty-Eighth Karl Terzaghi Lecturer in 2002, in Washington D.C., and the EIC Kennedy Medal in 2005.
Victor was always interested in amateur athletics. In his younger years, Victor was a world-class middle distance runner. Victor was captain of the Northern Ireland team at the 1954 British Empire Games in Vancouver, and ran in the “Miracle Mile”, placing fourth and just yards behind the two great milers, Roger Bannister of England and John Landy of Australia.
We all owe an immense debt to Victor for founding Golder Associates and instilling in it values that are the foundation of our culture. The introduction of Victor at the 2002 Karl Terzaghi Lecture included the following:
“Victor was also the driving force behind the company''s ownership model. He wanted to build a superior company, and to do this he firmly believed that if the employees were owners, this would be reflected in their attitude towards their clients and product quality... Victor Milligan has only one standard. Whatever he does, it must be the best. A world expert in dam construction, founder of one of the classiest engineering companies in the world, a worldclass athlete, and, I suspect, a world-class family man.”
Victor was President and then Chairman of Golder Associates. He retired in 1994 to individual practice, but continued to act as a Senior Consultant and to serve on many Technical Review panels and Consulting Boards for international clients with world class projects.
Victor continued to travel extensively. His passion and Irish wit at Golder meetings always resulted in standing ovations wherever he spoke.
Although it is true that Victor was the heart and soul of Golder Associates, the culture he founded and embedded in the company strongly lives on.
He is survived by his wife Donna, and sons Jeffrey and Michael (wife Bobbi) and his grandson Alexander to whom we all offer our sincere condolences.