Andy Soesilo: Environmentalist and teacher

By

Gavin Maxwell

Professor J. Andy Soesilo passed away in May at age 71, but not before leaving a lasting impression on his students and colleagues.
 
During his professional career at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Dr. Soesilo focused on reducing public exposure to hazardous waste, and as an adjunct professor of environmental planning at ASU he was always dedicated to his students.
 
Soesilo was passionate about the environment and used his creative problem solving to do what he could to for the communities where he lived.
 
He conducted extensive research on wastewater management, especially in the greater Phoenix area. His analysis helped to form more cooperative and effective strategies of waste management to be implemented across the valley.
 
“He would always come up with really compelling questions, things that weren’t readily available in books.  He loved developing new knowledge and contributing,” David Pijawka, a friend and colleague of Soesilo said.
 
While he was always pursuing new research, Soesilo fostered his passion for education as well.
 
“He was such a devoted instructor that in the last week before he passed away, his son put him into a wheelchair and wheeled him into the classroom. That’s how devoted he was, and only a day or so later he died,” Pijawka said.
 
As a professor, Soesilo enjoyed working closely with students, sharing his personal expertise with them in class or helping them to develop their own.
 
In the week before his death, Soesilo’s son Stanley remembers bringing him to class for the day. “He was weak and tired but I saw him smiling,” Stanley said.
 
In his personal time Soesilo found additional ways to spread his passion for education. He helped to found a non-profit organization named Persekutuan Kasih Kristus Arizona (PKKA) or Love of Christ Fellowship in Arizona, which provides scholarships to young students in his home country of Indonesia.
 
Soesilo’s generosity could be seen in all the areas of his life including his professional academic and volunteer work.
 
“He was not a spectator, he was a real participant. Andy did it all. It’s hard to say enough good things about him,” said Martin Pasqualetti, another friend and colleague of Soesilo. He and Dr. Soesilo “beat each other up” on the tennis court for almost 30 years. “Andy was one of the kindest people I have ever known,” Pasqualetti said.  “I always enjoyed being with him.”
 

Brief biography

Joseph Andy Soesilo was born in Blora, Java, Indonesia.
 
Before coming to U.S. Soesilo received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Petra Christian University in 1972, followed by a master’degree in engineering from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok,
 
During his time as a student in Indonesia Soesilo was engaged in many different student organizations. He helped to found a student magazine named GENTA, which still exists today, and he was also the first president of PCU’s student council.
 
After graduating from PCU he joined the school’s civil engineering department as a lecturer and made considerable contributions to Jurnal Dimensi, one of Indonesia’s first scholarly publications. He also became the school’s Vice President of Research
 
In 1982, Andy moved to the U.S. to join ASU as a Research Associate until 1988, and at this time completed his PhD in geography under the mentorship of professor W. Donald McTaggart.
 
For twenty years starting in 1988, Andy was worked for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) as an environmental planner.  During this time he authored several books and papers, including Site Remediation: Planning and Management and Hazardous Waste Planning.