Editor’s Note: In early 2020, we invited five outstanding woodworkers to share their story of their hobby. When we received their responses, we learned that woodworking was much more than working wood. Planning, design, building, sanding, and finishing are all elements of the project. More specifically, selecting the right wood, tool skills, and the right finish are key features that produce the artisanship. For each, this lifetime hobby was all about making something useful of wood that could be shared with family, neighbors, or used as a fundraiser for charity. We invite you to inspect the following stories. We also invite other woodworkers to share their story with us at ch2mhillaa@gmail.com.


New Careers

Retirement often opens an opportunity for a new career. If you, or someone you know, have embarked on a new career and would like to share it with your colleagues, please describe how it came to be and contact Gordon Koblitz and we will include it on this New Careers page.

My New Job is a Blast!

By Steve Wanders

Steve Wanders

In entering retirement, Steve Wanders is returning to West Lafayette, IN, to assume a position with his alma mater, Purdue University, as director of the University’s Cooperative Education program.

The program has 1,200 students in 48 disciplines across 8 of the 10 colleges in the university, and works to match them with Co-Op and Internship opportunities offered by the 500 employers engaged in the programs. Steve also gets to teach a class here and there, and participate in research on trends and effectiveness of experiential learning experience.

Steve actually started CH2M HILL’s participation in Purdue’s Co-Op program in 1988, when he was in Milwaukee. “The first guy we hired, Stacy Bartoletti from Green Bay, had just completed his freshman year at Purdue. Stacy was a superstar! He worked with the firm for five co-op sessions over 3 years, graduated, went on to UT-Austin for his MSCE Degree in Structures; and he’s now the President and CEO of Dagenkolb Engineers in San Francisco! I tell that story to our new students all the time!”

Who knows, Steve may be directing more promising young engineers back to the offices he left.

Alumni Retreats & Reunions

In 1996, someone decided that it would be fun to see how many retired persons would like to have a get-together for the purpose of re-establishing friendships and sharing what’s-going-on stories. A significant number of people, mostly from the CVO and RDD offices, agreed with the idea and attended, meeting at Ashland, Oregon (midway between CVO and RDD). And lo, the idea quickly morphed into the CH2M HILL Alumni Retreat!

Two years later, Tom Gibbs figured that Seattle would be a great place for a retreat in 1998. Not to be outdone, Les Wierson and Gene Suhr spearheaded the 2000 retreat in Portland. Joe Worth took on the task for the next meeting, held in Baker City, Oregon, in 2002. The RDD office sponsored the next get-together in Redding in 2004. By then, corporate became interested; and, largely through the efforts of Ralph Peterson, the next meeting took place in Denver. This one featured an attempt to reach out to the whole family of retirees from all of the companies that by then had become part of CH2M HILL. It was held in 2005 and featured a cash incentive of $200 per attendee, contributed by corporate. Each attendee was also given an advance copy of what will become (in 2011) a history of the success story that is CH2M HILL.

Corporate-sponsored events followed at Orlando (2007), Sun Valley (2009), San Diego (2011), and Denver in 2013. By then, the Alumni Retreat had become an eagerly awaited event with planning for each new meeting begun on the final breakfast meeting of the preceding retreat. But, with time comes changes. In 2014, a group of retirees and alumni working with corporate recognized that the retreats should become self-funded and regional reunion events rather than national; although, it was readily agreed that any alumni may attend. The first PNW reunion was held as a trial run in October 2015 in Tri-Cities, WA, under the leadership of Rick Luebbers and his committee. It was a great success and led to an “official” PNW Reunion planned for September 2016. Discussions with the reunion organizers for the SW region, Jerry Boyle and Don Marske, led to the group joining the PNW group in 2016 for the now-entitled “Western ReUnion,” again open to all alumni. Other regional reunions in the U.S. and globally are encouraged and will be included as they evolve in the coming years.

Be sure to check out the many photos under this portion of the History listed by location! If you have information or pictures from previous retreats and would like to share them, please let Gordon Koblitz know. If you are interested in organizing reunions in your area or helping with reunions currently in the planning stages, please also contact Gordon.


After years of dedicated service to CH2M HILL, most retirees find they now have time available to pursue personal interests that perhaps they didn’t have while working. Most retirees are acquiring new skills, such as learning a new language, developing a new skill, or pursuing a new interest. Examples of retirees’ activities run the gamut of enjoying family to traveling to taking up new hobbies or becoming more proficient at old ones. Travel seems to be a favorite of most retirees, while others have become more dedicated to professional and civic activities. Many of us remember Jim Howland becoming proficient at silk screening after lessening his time with the firm. Jerry Boyle has prepared some unbelievable etchings from his many travels. Others have traveled to some out-of-the-way locations, such as Don Marske’s excursion to Antarctica. This tab provides updates of retiree activities and provides a device for retirees with similar interests to share experiences. This may give you an opportunity to renew old friendships or start new ones. Send your ideas to Gordon Koblitz