Civil engineer Jack Macy played large roles in some grand, even audacious projects, high among them Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Transbay Tube and the pipeline that daily moves millions of gallons of treated effluent 40 miles from Santa Rosa to The Geysers, where it’s naturally turned to steam for geothermal power.
Macy wasn’t long out of Santa Clara University when, in the mid 1960s, he was charged with helping to assure that in the event of a major earthquake, the train tube to be placed on the bottom of San Francisco Bay would not fail and the BART cars wouldn’t hit the sides.
When the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989, he was living and working in Santa Rosa. He was elated by word the Transbay Tube withstood the shock.
The engineer wrote years later, “It is still a good feeling to know that, even with our somewhat primitive tools and unproven theory, we had done the job right.”
Macy, who retired in 2004 from the Santa Rosa engineering firm he ran with Dick Carlile, died Aug. 2. He was 75.
“His engineering knowledge was impeccable,” said friend and former partner Carlile. “He was very quick. He was fantastic to work with.”
Carlile said Macy, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only four months ago, would study a client’s concept for a public works or development project and in little time size up what it would take to get it built.
Over the course of his 40-year career, he contributed much to planning and development issues and projects throughout Sonoma County. Highlights included his role in plans for developing Windsor prior to its incorporation as a town in 1992, and the engineering he did for large-scale residential developments such as Lakewood Hills in Windsor, Country Club Estates in Petaluma and the Parkside project in Santa Rosa.
In contrast to the stereotypical view of an engineer, Macy also loved people and placed great emphasis on personal communication.
“He made you feel like your plans mattered, you as a person mattered,” said one of his two daughters, Colleen Price of Trabuco Canyon in Orange County. She said her dad “was not just the behind-the-desk guy” but was often the public face of the engineering firms he worked for.
John A. Macy was born in San Mateo in 1942. He grew up in the San Francisco Peninsula town and was attending Serra Catholic High School when he met the former Jacky Musetti.
“I was 15,” she said. The two of them dated while Jack Macy was studying engineering at Santa Clara University. They married in 1964.
Shortly after he earned his degree in civil engineering, Macy hired on at Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade and Douglas and went to work on the plans for BART’s under-bay tunnel. He wrote in his biographical pamphlet that a few years later he and Jacky had two children and “were outgrowing our 900-square-foot starter home and found prices in San Mateo beyond our reach.”
After searching the Bay Area for a job and affordable home, he took a job as project engineer on a major water-system project for the city of Sebastopol. The family settled in Santa Rosa in 1968.
Three years later, Macy moved to the Santa Rosa engineering firm of Mitchell and Heryford, later becoming a partner and ultimately the owner. In 1996, he and Carlile merged their firms to create Carlile Macy.