Alumni Contributions

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Alumni Contributions2020-08-19T21:31:06+00:00

Historical Photos

Roy Kodak of Rochester, New York, once referred to his ancestor’s newly invented reproduction of live images on a glass plate as “Face Prints”. Reproduced in this section are some “Face Prints” of some of the illustrious founders and/or builders of CH2M HILL. Many are no longer with us, and others have moved on to other enterprises but each placed his or her mark on CH2M HILL. Each of them, through their interaction with one another, established what has grown to a truly remarkable set of friends and alumnae. We, the current “caretakers” of this “Alumni History” hope you will enjoy these photos and reminisce about the past. We also hope that you will be moved to submit additional photos for inclusion in this section as you interact with this history.

The term “interaction”, in this case, means a sharing of experiences. Good experiences mostly—remembrances of which one carries to the grave. Most of these experiences are firmly etched on our mind—many were etched on a more solid form such as on camera film or, more recently, digital images. This collection of such images is a tribute to all those who are portrayed, as well as to the many others who, unfortunately, were not captured on film during their moment in history. This pictorial review will serve as a tiny Rosetta Stone which may unlock some pleasant recollections of past experiences. It is arranged in the following subdivisions. We’ll happily add new subdivisions as needed as we receive additional photos.

Pro Bono and Community Service

Pro bono is a shortened Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as a public service. Pro bono service, unlike traditional volunteerism, uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them or in an emergency. Recalled in this section are stories of significant public service the employees of CH2M HILL have made to the communities we serve in their time of extraordinary need.

This section is still quite incomplete. As a reader, if you remember something that you believe is worthy of mention as part of this “Pro Bono and Community Service” tab, please contact Gordon Koblitz.

CH2M Foundation

CH2M Company

CH2M Individuals


Reflections are the sometimes poignant, always interesting viewpoints and observations of individuals on a wide variety of subjects. They are drawn from the memories of a number of alumni and very often present an insight that is most likely not common knowledge but that is important to the understanding of “just what made CH2M HILL different and successful.”

My Retirement
by Udai Singh, 2020

It was April 2014 when Mike Tilchin and Lisa Forrest of the Washington, DC office organized and participated in a celebration of my 40th anniversary as a full-time employee of CH2M HILL (my first and only job). I enjoyed the party at the Oakland, California, office with colleagues from several offices, friends, and family. That event got me thinking about the next phase of my life – retirement. By summer I had decided to go part time from 2015 and fully retire in 2 or 3 years. As luck would have it, all of us “old timers” got an offer and incentive from the CEO in early fall to voluntarily retire. In my case the incentive amounted to payment of about one full year of current salary. It was a no-brainer, and with mixed emotions I took the offer and retired on December 19, 2014.

Shango, the Gorilla, and Jerry Wilson during Construction of the Oceanside Treatment Plant, 1988-1989

Editor’s Notes by Dave Evans:  The original for this article was sent to our John Gaston by one of John’s oldest and dearest friends.  The author, unknown, thought the lead gorilla in this verified story was Shango’s mother whereas Jerry Wilson’s spouse, Kathy Wilson, remembers the gorilla in question as being Shango’s father.  That said, I have chosen to stay gender neutral.  The Oceanside Plant and Shango were featured as the ENR Cover Story, “San Francisco comes clean” on March 4, 1991. [Historial Publications].  Jerry Wilson served as Project Manager for planning, design, and construction of the Oceanside Water Pollution Construction Plant.  Jerry passed away March 31, 2009.  [Jerry Wilson's biography]. The Oceanside plant was built directly adjacent to and under the San Francisco Zoo.  Parts of the zoo had to be temporarily relocated during the construction.  One of the exhibits that stayed in place was the Gorilla enclosure where [...]

“My Last Job..”
by Doris Powers

I joined CH2M HILL in May of 1979 and retired from there in 2005. My first job with the company was as Word Processing Supervisor in the Redding office. I worked with a remarkable group of women there, and still keep in touch with many of them. Okay, I worked with some remarkable men also, and remain friends with many of them as well. But I didn’t supervise them. We were co-workers and friends. There was a very collegial air in the Redding office. A month or so after I joined the firm, I discovered I was pregnant; and in early 1980, I went on maternity leave. My son, Michael Kenneth, was born in Redding in February; and shortly thereafter, I returned to work. His first babysitter was Linda, the wife of Mike Beste, one of our draftsmen. It worked out well for all of us. I would drive my Mike [...]

Insights from Sid Lasswell

Editor’s Note: The following was published in the CH2M HILL Water Business Group Quarterly Alumni Newsletter in 2007. Sid passed on February 24, 2019, at the age of 95. When I graduated from Oregon State with a B.S. Degree in 1949 and Fred Merryfield offered me a job with CH2M, I was 25 years old with a wife and one child. I had finished my freshman year in 1941-42, fell in love, quit school, got married at 18, got a 6-month deferment, and worked at the Vancouver, Washington, shipyards that were turning out Liberty ships at the rate of one per day - most of them actually floated. Fred wanted me to stay in school for my Master's Degree. But I had been living on $90 a month in a one-room basement apartment after returning from serving 3 years in the South Pacific, and I wanted to make some "big bucks." [...]

Memories of the Court Street Office
by Gerald Vogt, 2017

Introduction by Jacque Hinman Recently, Gerald Vogt, a 30-year CH2M veteran and manager of projects for several clients in the Private Sector Major Accounts group, shared the below story with many of his colleagues, including me, that reflects on our company name. Gerald is in our Redding, California, office, and his story starts by referencing a particular building that housed our Redding office many years ago. His story reflects on the building, its name and what the people in that building did together to make our world better. Knowing that we rightly take a lot of pride in our CH2M name and all we have accomplished for our clients and stakeholders, Gerald gives inspiring voice to the fulfilling experience we have had as colleagues united in common purpose. Gerald provides some good perspective to remind us how a name on a building—and even a particular address—may serve as identifiers, but [...]

Recollections After the Loss of CH2M
by Ron Bell 2018

"Jacobs Blends the CH2M Family Spirit into Its Own." Thanks, Jacque Hinman, for your departing message in the CH2M Alumni Newsletter... and welcome to the retirement club. Although we may never actually meet, I am sure to meet you "in the news." And, to all who may read these recollections, may you be as at "peace" with the world as am I. Let me introduce myself. I was born in Oregon... worked alongside migrant field workers, active civil air patrol cadet, draftsman, finish carpenter, electronics hobbyist, motel manager, adventurer, and ham operator. After discovering the world's religions, and girls, at Pacific Lutheran University, I concluded that civil/electrical engineering may be a more lucrative field of endeavor than linguistics or radio astronomy. I did summer work as a flagman and interstate highway construction inspector (ODOT), then graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in Civil Engineering Technology from Salem Technical Vocational [...]

Always and Never Reflections of Rick Luebbers, 2014

You may have noticed the message from Terry Ruhl regarding TBG employees with more than 40 years at CH2M HILL. I am fortunate to be one of those people. I have seen the firm grow from 700 people to more than 25,000, and our Transportation business grow from $12 million/yr to $1 billion/yr. Along the way, I had the good fortune to meet each of the company founders: Cornell, Howland, Hayes, Merryfield, and Hill. I learned a lot from them, as well as many other great mentors and leaders, and I distilled their collective wisdom in the "the single best piece of advice..." section of Terry’s message. This advice has served me well over the years, and I would suggest that operating along these lines will lead to a more interesting, productive, and rewarding professional career for those that follow. "Always be honest and ethical. Always be a good business [...]

Being Married to a Travelin’ Man
By Julie Bielman

Being the wife of a "My-bags-are-packed-'n-l'm-ready-to-go!" engineer has had its plusses and minuses--heavy on the latter! On the plus side, Ken's occasional absences give me a break from cooking and ironing, which allows me to get caught up on the neglected correspondence and photo albums. (Oh thrill!) Better, though, are the times when he goes his way and I go mine--like to visit our kids or my siblings. No complaints there, for sure! The plusses, however, don't come close to balancing my comfort and security needs while my Travelin' Man is away! I hate not sharing my bed with a warm body--even if it snores--and I long to hear a male voice not silenceable by a remote control. And in my book, getting my back scratched starts and ends a perfect day as does being kissed by someone with only two legs and without a wet nose. (I love our [...]

Birth of a Notion
by Gus Pantazi (September 2009)

Preface to "Birth of a Notion" Sadly, the man to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude is no longer with us. C. J. Constantine (like the theater cat in the musical "Cats") was called just Gus. This quiet, unassuming man tells us in his "Birth of a Notion" that he thought his version of this history was replete with shortcomings too numerous to mention. Au Contraire! Without Gus, this history would not exist; and much of its content would not be available for our many alums to read and recollect their experiences during their careers with CH2M HILL. We hope that as you read from this "Alumni History" you will pause and remember the man we called just "Gus." Birth of a Notion Upon my retirement from the International district of CH2M HILL (which included a couple of years or so of "consulting" for Mike Fisher and/or Vern [...]

CH2M HILL – Denver Office
By Ken Bielman

It was about 1973; the Denver Office had been open less than two years, so we were still the new kid on the block. As office manager, I was eager to get our name out wherever it would be advantageous, particularly in response to requests for proposals. The Water Department of the City of Colorado Springs offered an opportunity that made me drool. The city's water group had traditionally used a major competitor for all of their engineering needs, so when they invited CH2M HILL to propose on some environmental work I was anxious to respond. Our proposal was prepared in the Denver office with not enough input from the West Coast. To bolster our image, I asked Holly Cornell to come to Denver and accompany me to the interview. We discussed the proposal briefly during the one-hour drive to Colorado Springs with me doing most of the talking. Holly [...]

CH2M HILL is All About its People
By Ralph Peterson – 4th Quarter 2002

From its very inception, first as Cornell Howland Hayes and Merryfield, and now as CH2M Hill, this has been a great place to work! Jim Howland, our first president was the first to espouse the conviction that our people should "work hard, enjoy the work, and be fairly compensated". We've had a succession of leaders who have held to that same goal, but perhaps no one else expressed it so eloquently and succinctly as Ralph Peterson in his cover letter for the 4th quarter, 2002 "Unlimited" entitled "It's all about people." Read More...

It’s Damned Hard to be a Pro
By Archie H. Rice

CH2M HILL is an amazing organization. It has the finite written organizational structure of a P&ID; and yet, in operation, it has all the characteristics of an amoeba. Teams are formed; they perform their function; they are replaced by new teams; and the organization goes on and continues to perform, and to perform in an extremely competent manner. By carefully considered design, not by accident, CH2M HILL is an organization of professionals, owned and operated by professionals dedicated to rendering professional services. For this reason, our success or failure depends not on the organizational structure, but rather on the extent to which individuals within that structure fulfill their professional responsibilities. In the field of athletics, it is relatively simple to recognize the professionals; they perform an assigned task for money. But, they are required to do much more than simply perform an assigned task. The professionals are individuals who continually [...]

Early CH2M HILL Reflections of Dave Evans

My early reflections of Cornell, Howland, Hayes, and Merryfield, beginning in 1959 and continuing unabated to this day, are all about great caring co-workers from a very small Corvallis, Oregon, consulting firm. It’s about these co-workers who took on great and wondrous projects with honesty, understanding, and patience with my learning process, and a deep appreciation of the importance of applying the principles outlined in Jim Howland’s Little Red Book. And, yes, it was red and not yellow in those days. Most often these co-workers were really my teachers, bosses, and mentors who always approached me as an important co-worker whose success was their success and whose family was their family. Beginning in 1959 as a Civil Engineering Undergraduate Sophomore at Oregon State College (now a university), two of my important instructors were Arlen Borgen and Joe Worth. Together with Ralph Roderick who would drop in for after-hours engineering round-table [...]

The Early Years
by Sid Lasswell and Harlan Moyer

The early years were indeed very important and special for both CH2M (then known as Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merryfield) and a separate, equally old, and revered firm, known then as Clair A. Hill and Associates (CAHA). Collectively they were later known as CH2M HILL. The following video was recorded for those who attended, or could not attend, the 2013 Denver, Colorado, Retreat. Our own retiree, Mike Kennedy, former CH2M HILL Transportation President, is our beginning narrator. Others are well documented by this video. In the video, Sid Lasswell (then just a CH2M partner) and Harlan Moyer (then just a senior Clair A Hill "Associate" employee and subsequently a CH2M HILL CEO) both talk about these very special "early years" in the then world of CH2M and CAHA. Watch the Sid and Harlan Video. This Video is 30 minutes long and may take a while to open.

Holly A. Cornell – Memories by James
By W. Poirot (May 2003)

Holy Cornell and I worked together in CH2M for over 20 years from 1958 to 1978 and then consulted with one another for another 10 years. Actually, I was pleasantly introduced to him in the summer of 1953 when I first worked for Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merryfield. I was a member of a survey crew at a new water reservoir in Pasco, Washington when he came walking through the sage brush with his suit and hat on to say hello and asked if we needed anything. It was a brief visit, but impressed me and was the beginning of a growing admiration that resulted in my great satisfaction when told I would be assisting him on his projects in 1958. Holly asked me to move from Corvallis to Seattle with him in 1960 to open a new office. The office was started in downtown Seattle because Holly said we [...]

Ken Bielman’s 90th Birthday Celebration

For his 90th birthday, Ken prepared a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the "Fun Times with Ken in his First 90 Years (PDF)." The presentation spans his family, career, hobbies, and travels. Behind the fun times of a lifetime is often a spouse or significant other who, behind the scenes, makes the fun possible. Such was the case for Ken Bielman with his wife Julie.

Memoirs of the Founding Partners

In 1984, Jim Howland initiated and supported a project to capture the memoirs of the founding partners. The information was gathered through oral interviews over a couple of days for each partner. Following are edited summaries of the interviews that focus on the key events and issues that have impacted the history of CH2M HILL as recalled by the partner. Archie H. Rice, 1983, Edited by Dave Evans & Susie Gaare, 2017 (PDF) Clair A. Hill, 1984, Edited by Dave Evans, 2015 (PDF) Earl Reynolds, February 2006. Edited by Susie Gaare, 2015 (PDF) Harlan E. Moyer, 2005, Edited by Susie Gaare, 2016 (PDF) Holly Cornell, 1983, Edited by Dave Evans, 2016 (PDF) James C. Howland, 1982-83, Edited by Jim Schwing, 2016 (PDF) Jim Poirot, February, 2006, Edited by Jim Schwing, 2015 (PDF) Ralph E. Roderick, 1984, Edited by Don Marske, 2015 (PDF) Sid Lasswell, February, 2006, Edited by Don Marske, [...]

My Top 20 Good Times With Jim Howland
By Jim Poirot , 2007

Jim Howland was my best mentor and supervisor and his teachings were not just about business, but kindness, being concerned for others and the great value of spouses throughout the firm. This is my list of Top 20 Good Times with Jim. 1. After Professor Fred Merryfield "instructed" me to make an appointment in May 1953 with Jim Howland at Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merryfield, I complied and made the appointment. Since I had never interviewed for a job before, I was apprehensive and nervous about what I should say or inquire about. My concerns were immediately neutralized when Jim asked me to sit with him in his office where he made me feel at home as though I was one of his family. I'm not sure what I said, but I left thinking that working with Jim Howland and people like him would be a career more enjoyable than I [...]

Proving We Could Deliver the “Goods”
By Gene Suhr

Prior to the opening of our DEN office, we became aware of a water reclamation project to be undertaken by the Denver Water Board. Due in part to a perceived future shortage of potable water supply and in part to a federal court decree mandating reuse of water diverted from the Clorado River Basin, Denver had a need to reuse treated sewage. They hoped to be able to treat Denver's sewage to a purity sufficient to allow it to be added directly to Denver's potable water suppy system. Encouraged by our successful Lake Tahoe tertiary treatment system, we decided to make a proposal to the water board. After an anxious waiting period, we learned that CH2M was one of three firms shortlisted for the project. Greeley and Hanson and Bechtel rounded out the three firm short list. In a very unique fashion, the water board decided to send a two-man [...]

by Les Wierson

Corvallis (CVO) Spring Term 1958, Professor Merryfield called me into his office in Apperson Hall OSC. He asked me to meet with Jim Howland for a job interview on Western Avenue. I met with Jim Howland and the next day received a job offer of $425 per month on Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merryfield letterhead. I had previously accepted an offer of $525 from a Portland steel fabricator. I accepted Jim's offer the next day. I was assigned employee No. 47. I later learned that Fred Merryfield was responsible for the firm's staff hiring and established the policies, principals and procedures for all staff additions. In the early years the policy was to find good people, offer below market wages and challenge them to come with a firm that was on track to be a West Coast leader. I was assigned to the structural group led by Bob Adams. Harry [...]

Memories of CH2M HILLM
by Robert E. (Bob) Pailthorp

Residuals by Rep or Don't get me Started Thoughts from the first years of my 30 years with CH2M HILL are a joy, for the most part. Of course, many of my memories of the 50s and 60s are of people who are gone. Only a relative few will remember the setting for many of my memories, like the old Corvallis office on Western Blvd. Isn't it great that, if we can remember anything, it tends to be the pleasant happenings? Cornell, Howland, Hayes & Merryfield hired me in 1957 (Employee # 44). This was about 10 years after the "Firm" was started. The Firm had completed many water and sewage projects (later to be called wastewater projects). A majority were for Willamette Valley cities. These successful projects and the vision of the partners paved the way for the growth that resulted in a need to hire more people- - [...]

Reflections from Ted King

PAs retirement approaches, and I think back thru the years, My memory keeps returning to a firm of engineers. Their home was near Corvallis, out a half-mile or more, And hurrying feet had beaten a path up to their office door. The plants of their design were all of a simple classic art, But in the field of wastewater, they played a leading part. The plants they built were loaded with equipment, old and new, Blowers, mixers, air diffusers, and chlorinators too. Pumps and valves and heat controls, and lab glassware galore, Computerized control boards, and gadgets by the score. The finished plant was always something wondrous to behold, With all the engineering goodies its structures did enfold. But what marred all this perfection and drove operators berserk, Was when the fateful day came to make the darn thing work. A wrong sized pipe connection leaked all over the place, [...]

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