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 Nelson), I launched myself into that abyss of having to determine which of my personal ambitious plans to pursue first. And I had lots of them!

I had been involved with the growth and development of “computers” since their advent in the ’50s and I chose to make them my target of choice for post-retirement investigative activities. I had not been able to become an electrical engineer as I had dreamed of, but electronics (ham radio) and most currently computers had always been my spare-time passion. So I taught myself how to write programs that would permit me to make those lovable machines do my bidding! This now posed the dilemma of finding subject material that would make interesting targets for topics that would be suitable for exercising my newly found muscle power, i.e. my computer, to do something useful. It was then that I formed the plan to compose “a little something” about my previous love, CH2M HILL! I decided that I would do a bit of research and learn all I could about its early years and write it up as a labor of love! Little did I know what that really entailed!

It was now in the mid 1980s, my memories were still sharp and clear and the umbilical cord to CH2M HILL was still not completely severed, so I jumped on my unclearly thought-out plan and dove into the historical waters of The History of CH2M HILL. YIKES!

Over a period of several years I wrote letters, I made phone calls all over the country, I begged, borrowed and stole material from any source I could contact and wrote, rewrote, designed, redesigned, composed, recomposed, before I felt that I had gone as far as I could go. At first, I was paying about $500 a year for server time with my local Computer Service Company for computer time upon which I had built my History Program. Now, this was cause for a bit of resentment, so I contacted my close friend Mike Kennedy (who had by now risen to considerable heights in the Mother Corp.) and asked him if he could arrange the cooperation of CH2M HILL to allow me to put my History Program on the company’s computers, thus escaping the costs I was incurring to host the program locally. Mike came through, and with the help of Dave Ladek, the IT manager in DEN, I switched my History Program to the CH2M HILL computers!

I got lots of help from Jim Howland, Lee Overcamp, Mike Kennedy and numerous others who assisted me in my efforts to tell my story about CH2M HILL. In fact, many people made contributions to the original version (see list of credits in the original) so in many ways it was more of a group effort than a solitary work effort. I thought that I had done a fairly decent job in my original effort, but I soon learned that although my version of a “decent job” met my specifications, I soon became astounded and embarrassed with later disclosures of incompleteness, inadequacies, overall shortcomings, etc. that surfaced under more public scrutiny!

That is the story of the original version of the History Project. Its acceptance by more learned folks as a useful, or at least interesting, tale caught me by surprise but pleases me greatly. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who can look back on a period of time spent with CH2M HILL as a most favorable and rewarding experience, so I am confident that I am not alone in my favorable recollections of personal experiences.

I am now in the bleacher section of the History Project crew and trying desperately to not be a gadfly as my original effort is given new content, a new coat of paint, new viewpoints, new meanings, etc. As I try to keep up with the changes being made to my original effort, my chest continues to swell with pride to be associated with the people who guided and supported me for all those wonderful years.