Hal C. Doremus
By Frank Chamberlain
Harold Chellis Doremus served as the head of the Engineering Department at Tarleton for thirty-eight years. As the official college engineer, “Mr. Do” designed and scouted out locations for almost all of the new buildings that were built from 1926 until 1964. His legacy is being felt today, as most of his buildings are still being utilized.
Doremus, was born in 1899 in Neligh, Nebraska. Coincidentally, John Tarleton College opened its doors that same year down in Texas. He graduated from high school in 1917 and enrolled in the University of Nebraska. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering four years later. During this period of time, the United States entered World War I. Doremus spent three months in the army and was in France when the armistice was signed.
Doremus was hired as high school principal at Thayer, Nebraska in 1921. He only held this job for one semester, leaving in December to teach in the Texas A&M department of civil engineering. This marked the beginning of his long career in the A&M system. In 1936, he earned his master’s degree from the college.
During his five years at A&M, Doremus spent his summers doing a wide variety of extra jobs. These included surveying right-of-ways on Illinois highways, drafting the original surveys on what would later become Lake Dallas, and surveying forests in Tennessee and Virginia for the U.S. forest service. The most interesting of Doremus’ s side projects was assisting on a biological survey in Arizona that examined how much grass that jackrabbits were eating compared to the cattle of the region. He helped determine that the rabbits were indeed consuming more than their fair share of the grass and concluded that shooting these creatures was the best available option.
In 1926, Doremus came to Tarleton to serve as both professor and head of the Engineering Department. In addition to teaching engineering, he became the university engineer in charge of maintenance and construction. These duties included planning each of the new buildings to be built on campus as well as determining the best sites for construction. The buildings that were erected during his tenure include such notable structures as the Agriculture building, girl’s gym, the original science building, library, student center, and auditorium. Almost every current dormitory on campus was built under Doremus’s supervision. Of all his projects, he claimed that he was most proud of his contributions in building the original Memorial Stadium.
In addition to his teaching and building designing, Doremus was the head of the campus improvement committee. This job involved maintaining, improving, and replacing trees, shrubbery, and other forms of campus vegetation.
Doremus retired as professor emeritus in 1964 after forty-three years in the A&M system. He continued to live in Stephenville until his death two years later. Although there are no buildings or landmarks named in his honor as of this time, Doremus’s legacy can be seen in the number of existing buildings that he helped to build (J-TAC 4/7/64, Stephenville Daily Empire 9/1/64).
“H.C. Doremus, TSC Engineer, Retires”, Stephenville Daily Empire, September 1, 1964.
“ ‘Mr. Do’ Shares Birthday and Progress with TSC”, The J-TAC, April 7, 1964.