Mario Gonzalo Suarez y de Cardenas, 87, of New Rochelle, NY, and formerly of Havana, Cuba, died on Feb.18, 2014 at his home surrounded by his family. He was born on April 25,1926 to the late Miguel A. Suarez and Esperenza De Cardenas in Havana, Cuba where his father was a real estate developer.
Mario is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, Raquel Suarez of New Rochelle, NY and by his loving children, Raquel (Alfonso) Martinez-Fonts of Washington, DC, Mario (Teresa) Suarez of Slingerlands, NY, Jorge (Janet) Suarez of Beaver, PA, Javier (Susan) Suarez of Lake Barrington, IL, Julio (Jean) Suarez of Plano, TX, Juan (Jennifer) Suarez of LaPlace, LA, Maria (Robert) Cox of New Rochelle, NY and Guillermo (Susan) Suarez of East Norwalk, CT.
Also survived by his precious grandchildren, Andrew, Angela, Anna Marie, Christian, Christina, Collins, Daniel, Danny, David, Diana, Elena, Fr. Luke, Francis, Jacqueline, Jon Mario, Juan Joseph, Kathleen, Mario Matthew, Mark, Mary, Matthew, Micaela, Michael John, Michael William, Michelle, Nicolas, Owen, Patrick, Peter, Raquel, Sean, Tabitha, Teresa and Tony, and 27 great-grand children and many wonderful nieces and nephews.
He is survived by his sister Margarita of Gonzales, LA. and predeceased by his brothers and sisters Miguel, Esperanza, Elena, Roberto, Georgina.
Suarez was a top student growing up in Cuba, excelling in science and mathematics. He attended St. George’s High School where he graduated first in his class. He was a competitive diver in his school days.
Suarez received his Civil Engineering degree in 1948 from the University of Havana, Cuba and his Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1950. He was a professor and head of the Structural Department in the School of Science and Technology at the Universidad Católica de Santo Tomás de Villanueva from 1954 until 1958.
Suarez worked as a structural engineer for La Concretera Nacional, a public works contractor, and in private practice until 1960 when he left his homeland with his entire family to make a new life in the United States after the Cuban revolution.
Suarez was a Senior Structural Engineer at Ammann & Whitney in New York, Chief Engineer And Vice President at Stresssteel Corp. in Wilkes-Barre, PA and Principal at Schupack Suarez Engineers of Norwalk, CT.
Over the course of his outstanding professional career, Suarez became one of the pioneers of the prestressed concrete industry. His life’s work included design, construction and evaluation of bridges, buildings, dams, retaining walls, tanks and many other structures; investigation of performance problems in existing structures and structures under construction, remedial measures for the same; research and development on prestressing materials, equipment and methods, corrosion sensitivity and performance of reinforcing and prestressing steels and methods of protection thereof; fibrous concrete materials and applications; post-tensioning and concrete material technology, fabrication, construction, testing and quality control procedures; and appearing in court as an expert witness. He held a patent related to concrete construction and technology.
Suarez was one of the founding fathers of the Prestressed Concrete Institute and Post-Tensioning Institute. He was a member of the American Concrete Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the National Forensic Center and served on technical committees for ACI, PCI and PTI.
He received many industry honors including the prestigious PTA Award and PTI’s Legends of Post-Tensioning for significant long-term contributions to the development of the post-tensioning industry in North America. Suarez was selected by PTI membership for the inaugural class of the PTI Hall of Fame in 2005.
Due to a less restrictive regulatory regime than the United States, engineers in Cuba were able to do the most advanced work in the world with bridge and highway construction in the post-war period. American companies flocked to Cuba to see the results with Suarez at the forefront of his generation of young Cuban engineers.
Among his most notable projects in Cuba were the Canas River Bridge, a 250-foot span cast-in-place box girder prestressed concrete highway bridge completed in 1952. At the time, it was the largest prestressed concrete bridge in the Western Hemisphere; and the Zaza River Bridge a 300-foot segmental PT concrete truss bridge employing the cantilever method completed in 1959. This project predates all other major precast segmental concrete bridges in the world.
While still a student at the University of Havana, Suarez designed the right-field bleachers for a baseball stadium developed by his father’s company. Gran Estadio de La Habana, since renamed Estadio Latinoamericano, was opened in 1946 as the top baseball park in Latin America. The stadium hosted many American professional teams and explains, in part, how he became a lifelong New York Yankees fan. In 1999, the stadium hosted an exhibition game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Cuban national baseball team that was broadcast on national TV in the United States.
One of the highlights of his career came in 2002 when Suarez was selected by Robert Silman Associates to design and provide construction oversight for the permanent repairs to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater using post-tensioning.
The structural system of the house, a National Historic Landmark, includes reinforced concrete cantilevered balconies that began to sag as construction was completed in 1937. By 1997 they were found to be near failure limits.
Temporary girders installed beneath the cantilevers supported the structure until 2002, when Suarez and his team joined blocks to the concrete cantilever beams and floor joists and ran high-strength steel cables through the blocks and exterior walls. The cables were tightened using jacks, the floors and walls restored, so that the deflection stopped leaving the appearance of Fallingwater unchanged.
Suarez describes the effort in the documentary film “Saving Fallingwater” which tells the story of “the architects, engineers, and historians who rescued Frank Lloyd Wright's most important masterpiece”.
Suarez was an active member of Holy Name of Jesus Church where he served as Lector and Eucharistic Minister. He was a member of Agrupación Católica Universitaria.
Memorial Service at Salesian High School Friday from 6-8 p.m.
148 E Main St, New Rochelle, NY
Funeral Mass Holy Name of Jesus Church Saturday at 1 p.m.
75 Lispenard Avenue, New Rochelle, NY
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Alzheimer's Association. Donate online at www.alz.org, on the telephone at 1-800-272-3900 or by mail at Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011.