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Ken Shute

Ken Shute

Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1931, Ken's parents took the family back to Coventry, England at the age of two. He was eight years old when WWII started in 1939. Like many other children, he and his brothers and sisters were evacuated the day war broke out as Coventry was heavily bombed because it was an industrial city manufacturing planes and trucks. Ken returned to Coventry in 1943 to finish his schooling, then he attended the engineering-oriented Coventry Technical College, and received an Associate degree in 1947.

Ken enlisted in the US Air Force (USAF) in 1951 and spent 3½ years in Europe including attendance at a US Army Engineers school in Germany. While stationed in France he was assigned to an Air Installation and Operations Squadron, a construction squadron involved with utility design and installation. He also worked on runways since the base was a major supply depot for Material Air Transport. From France, Ken was transferred to Germany and was assigned to a Shoran Squadron surveying and calculating bombing runs. Following his stay in Europe, he was shipped back to March Field in Riverside, California, where he gained experience in aerial photography prior to discharge in 1955.

After his service with the USAF, Ken worked for a couple of oil companies surveying oil leases and oil production systems. He spent about 8 years in the oil business when he decided he needed something different. He looked to Oregon as it was a lot like England. Through a reference from his work at Humble Oil Co., Ken traveled to Corvallis to meet Bob Adams and Fred Merryfield. As it turned out, Fred had grown up in a small town just outside of Coventry. Ken began work for CH2M on September 13, 1965.

Ken's first job was on a dredge in the middle of the Willamette River working a 12-hour night shift dredging nearly 700,000 yards of river material into Terminal Two of the Port of Portland. Ken shares that the most joy of his time with the firm was the unknown of what the next job would be. Like the dredge work, he includes such projects as picking up two 4-million gallon steel tanks for the City of Aurora, Colorado, and hauling them up the road with 168 wheels under them to gain elevation. He also recalls wearing snowshoes to walk on the cover of a 5-million gallon "waterbed" (actually a hypalon growndwater storage tank) that covered 5½ acres in Eugene, Oregon. Then there was the trip to Trinidad, working on 54 miles of pipelines. This project was the first international project where the firm gained experience accommodating family situations, including handling and processing children attending foreign schools.

For his last ten years with the firm, Ken and his wife traveled the country working on a variety of projects as far south as Texas, east to Florida, and north to Michigan. These included a hydroelectric project in Ashton, Idaho, that was under construction when the firm was called in to rework the project and try and bring it in on the contracted start date. It had a canal and a 108-inch penstock and even with 4 feet of snow on the ground, the project was completed on time. After working on a water treatment plant improvement in Ann Arbor, Michigan for two years, Ken decided it was time to retire in the spring of 1996.

One of the highlights of Ken's career was the pleasure of working on a project with his son John, a civil engineer in Corvallis working for Precision Approach Engineering. In his retirement, Ken still works on small projects with him. He and his wife continue to travel to Europe from time to time, and spend a fair amount of time in their garden.

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