NOAA History Banner
gold bar divider
home - takes you to index page
about the site
noaa - takes you to the noaa home page
search this site
white divider
arrow Profiles in Time
arrow C&GS Biographies

banner - profiles in time c and gs biographies

Robert Lee Faris died unexpectedly at his home on October 5, 1932. He was born at robert lee farisCaruthersville, Missouri, January 13, 1868. Educated in the public schools, he took his degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri in 1890. Prior to his bureau service he was assistant engineer for a year with the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, upon the survey of the Missouri River.

Entering the service of the Coast and Geodetic Survey on May 12, 1891, he held the position of assistant director for the 18 years prior to his death. His early assignments covered various field operations, including transcontinental triangulation and the survey of the Yukon Delta and the northern coast of Bering Sea. He commanded various survey ships in Puerto Rico and along the United States east coast. It was during this period that he did important pioneer work in the development of making magnetic observations at sea. In September 1906, he was designated inspector of magnetic work and chief of the division of terrestrial magnetism, which position he held until November 1914, when he became assistant inspector of hydrography and topography. He was appointed assistant director in March 1915, and during the World War, in the absence of the director in Europe, acted as head of the survey.

Captain Faris was appointed a member of the Mississippi River Commission in 1919, and served in that capacity until his death. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; member of the committee on navigation and nautical instruments of the National Research Council; Federal Board of Surveys and Maps; Washington Academy of Sciences; Philosophical Society of Washington (President, 1921); Washington Society of Engineers (President, 1921); American Society of Civil Engineers; American Astronomical Society; American Geophysical Union; Society of American Military Engineers; Geological Society of Washington; International Association of Navigation Congresses; and the Cosmos Club.

An earnest scholar, an untiring worker, a quick thinker, endowed with a clear vision and a remarkable memory, Captain Faris possessed the basic attributes of the successful engineer and administrator. He enjoyed his labors and inspired respect and loyalty. A visit to his office was a visit with a friend, for the affectionate regard in which he was held was mutual. His broad knowledge and his sound personal judgment of all sciences relating to the activities of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, combined with a kindly generous spirit, prompted him to assist all who sought his counsel. An excellent writer himself, he was a helpful critic of the work of others. The death of Captain Faris is a personal loss to his many friends in the Coast and Geodetic Survey and elsewhere, in whose thoughts his memory will always linger as a true gentleman and a lovable character.

C&GS Bulletin, No. 210, 11/30/1932

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer