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Thursday, May 26, 2022 — Houston, TX

Longtime professor passes away at 92

By Drew Keller     3/23/16 4:12pm

A memorial service will be held in Houston on Saturday for Jean-Claude DeBremaecker, an outspoken professor of geophysics at Rice for 30 years who passed away Feb. 11.

According to his daughter Suzanne Williams (Baker ’76), DeBremaecker was 92, having been born in Belgium in 1923. DeBremaecker earned his M.A. at Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Rice in 1959 and served as professor from 1965 to 1994.

“He was easily identified on campus riding his bicycle with no hands,” Williams said. “Eating at the Jones College French table, mentoring numerous grad students and attending musical events at Rice were among his favorite activities at Rice.”

DeBremaecker was a vocal member of the forerunner committee to the Faculty Senate, often advocating for what he saw as student interests. He wrote several letters to the Thresher in favor of increasing student input to the administration, as well as a letter opposing the Vietnam War and a letter supporting Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 presidential campaign, for which he served as Houston chairman. In one letter from 1963, DeBremaecker criticized the harsh grading of a final exam, which he said indicated a lack of caring about students by faculty. 

“His sharp intellect, keen sense of humor and joie de vivre will be missed by all who knew him,” Williams said.

The memorial service will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

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