Past President Bio’s



Frederick William Cappelen was born on October 21, 1857, in Drammen, Norway.  He received his early education in Fredrikstad, and came out at the head of his class.  He graduated at a technical school in Oerebro, Sweden.  He continued his studies at the Dresden Polytechnic Institute at Dresden, Germany, from which he graduated as a Civil Engineer with the highest honors ever won at that time by a foreign student at the school. 

In 1880, Mr. Cappelen came to the United States and was employed in the Engineering Offices of the Northern Pacific Railway in New York City and at Brainerd, Minnesota.  From 1881 to 1884, he served as Assistant Engineer on location and construction of the Missoula Division of the Northern Pacific Railway Company. 

He then entered the employ of the City of Minneapolis as Bridge Engineer, remaining in that position until 1892. During this time, among other work, he designed and built three highway bridges across the Mississippi River. 

On January 2, 1893, he was elected City Engineer of Minneapolis and held that office until 1989.  In 1913 he again became City Engineer, remaining in office until his death.  During this latter term, he built the St. Anthony Bridge, which crossed the Mississippi at St. Anthony Falls.  Cappelen was responsible for the design of many public works buildings in Minneapolis, including the Prospect Park Water Tower, and the Kenwood Park Water Tower.  The current Franklin Avenue bridge, later named the Cappelen Memorial Bridge, was designed and its construction started by Cappelen.   This bridge is a fine example of reinforced concrete construction, 1030 ft long with five spans, the central one of which is 400 ft. – one of the longest of its type in the world when it was built. 

In 1895, he designed the Minneapolis Reservoir System which was the first step toward the purification of the water supply of that city.  His interest in and designs for the improvement of the city water-works caused him often to be referred to as the “Father” of the present system. 

From 1898 to 1913, Mr. Cappelen maintained an office as a Consulting Engineer on bridge and municipal work.  During this time, he had a large part in the bridging and lowering of the steam railroad tracks through Minneapolis, and also acted as Consulting Engineer for the Great Northern Railway Company. 

In 1904, he served on a commission with Mr. Andrew Rinker, then City Engineer, and Allen Hazen, M. ASCE of New York City, for the investigation of a pure water supply for Minneapolis, and their report recommended the purification of the present supply from the Mississippi River.  In 1913, the operation of the filtration plant was begun under his direction, and in 1921, its capacity had been increased to 90,000 gallons per day.  During the thirteen years in which Mr. Cappelen served Minneapolis as City Engineer, the water-works system was rapidly extended and improved, keeping pace with pace with the growth of the city. 

From 1907 to 1911, he was also connected with the Decaries Incinerator Company, working out, during this time, many improvements in its garbage reduction process. 

Extensive studies and investigations were made by Mr. Cappelen on the subject of grade separation at street and railroad crossings and a part of this work has already been brought to a successful completion; general plans for much more were completed by him shortly his death. 

He standing and reputation as a Sanitary Engineer was recognized by the Governor of Minnesota, who, in 1918 appointed him as one of the first two engineer members of the State Board of Health, and in January, 1921, he was again appointed to this position. 

Mr. Cappelen was a member and Trustee of the American Water Works Association, a member of the American Society of Municipal Improvements and of the Minneapolis Engineer’s Club.  He was also a member of the Odin Club, of the Masonic Order, the Elks, and many civic organizations. 

His place in the estimation of the public was well stated in a leading city paper on the day following his death: “For a quarter of a century this man had given his best in public service to Minneapolis.  He used his engineering genius, no merely to facilitate communication, but to preserve public health, to promote safety and to enhance the attractions of the city.  His devotion to the duties of his office and to the upbuidling of Minneapolis was not without its personal sacrifices. His passing is a loss that will not easily be retrieved.” 

Mr. Cappelen joined ASCE in 1895 and became the first President of the Northwestern Section (later became the Minnesota Section) of ASCE in 1914.


1856 - ???


W. L. Darling, chief engineer of the Northern Pacific, with office at St. Paul, Minnesota, whose resignation has just been accepted, was born March 26, 1856, at Oxford, Massachusetts, where he received his early education.  His technical education was obtained at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and upon graduating he entered the engineering department of the Northern Pacific.  

From June 1879, to August 1883, he was resident engineer and later locating engineer on that road.  From August 1883, to February 1884, he was resident engineer on the St. Paul & Northern Pacific, and from April to July 1884, he was locating engineer on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, going to the Florida Railway in December, 1884, as locating engineer.  In August 1885, go was appointed engineer in charge of terminals on the Chicago, Burlington & Northern, which position he held until May 1887 and from May to December of this same year he was chief engineer of the Duluth, Watertown & Pacific.  From December 1887 to January 1889, he was assistant engineer of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba and from January 1889 to March 1891, he was assistant engineer on the Northern Pacific, being promoted to principal assistant engineer, a position he held until July 1898, when he was appointed assistant chief engineer.  He became chief engineer in 1901, but resigned in August 1902 to become chief engineer of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, with an office at Chicago, Illinois, a position he held until October 1905, when he was appointed chief engineer of the Pacific Railway, with an office at Seattle, Washington.  He resigned in January 1906 to become chief engineer of the Northern Pacific.  During the years 1906 to 1909, inclusive, he was, in addition to his duties as chief engineer of this latter railroad, also consulting engineer in active charge of construction of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle.  He retired in 1916 to engage in private engineering practice. 

-excerpt from the Engineering News Record, 1916

Ralph D. Thomas

18?? - 1949

About 1902, shortly after graduating from Tufts University in Boston, Thomas accepted an engineering position with the Minneapolis Mill Company, soon transferring to its companion firm, the St. Anthony Falls Water Power Company.  Under single ownership, with de la Barre serving as chief engineer, the two companies jointly controlled the entire waterpower at the Falls of St. Anthony, including the Hennepin Island hydroelectric development, which gave Thomas his first hands-on experience with hydroelectric design and construction.  About 1920, Thomas left his position as assistant engineer with de la Barre and established an independent consulting practice, specializing in hydroelectric engineering.  Before the 1920s were over, he had designed new hydroelectric developments at Winton on Kawishiwi River in Lake County, at Scanlon (the Stevens Plant) on the St. Louis River in Carlton County, and at Knife Falls, also on the St. Louis River in Carlton County.  During the same period, he also engineered additions to the hydroelectric facilities at Little Falls, Bemidji, Crookston, and Thief River Falls.  Thomas remained in the power engineering field until his death in 1949, operating during the last few years under the firm name of R.D. Thomas and Associates, Inc. 

-excerpt from the 1991 National Register of Historic Placed Multiple Property Documentation Form -Minnesota Hydroelectric Generating Facilities, 1881-1928

Charles Lucien Pillsbury


Charles L. Pillsbury, the son of Charles F. and Frances H. (Boynton) Pillsbury, was born in Minnesota in 1872.  He attended public schools in Minneapolis.  He studied engineering at both Purdue University and at the University of Minnesota. 

During the pioneer electrical period from 1895 to 1899, Mr. Pillsbury held the position of city electrician of Minneapolis.  From 1899 to 1901, he was general superintendent of Minneapolis International Electric (Light, Heat and Power) Company, which was absorbed by Minneapolis General Electric Company.  He then engaged in engineering contracting and for several years was proprietor of the Northwest Engineering Company of St. Paul.

From 1906 until 1917, Mr. Pillsbury was engaged in consulting and valuation engineering, with offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and with a staff of engineering associates.  During all this time he served as consulting engineer to the Minnesota State Board of Control, and he and his staff designed and supervised all of the various engineering features of many of the large state institutions, including the new Minnesota state prison.  Aside from the design and supervision of public utility and industrial plants, Mr. Pillsbury specialized largely in public utility valuation work.  He acted as valuation engineer for various trust companies and bond houses for the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and for many other cities in the valuing of public utilities.  From 1914 to 1916, he served as chief engineer of the valuation bureau of the Public Utilities Commission of the District of Columbia, and in this capacity had charge of the making of cost of reproduction valuations of all of the public utilities of the district, as provided for under an act of congress.  For several years Mr. Pillsbury served as professional lecturer on valuation and financial engineering at the University of Minnesota. 

In 1917, Mr. Pillsbury joined Munsingwear Company.  He served as treasurer and executive vice president. 

Mr. Pillsbury was a Scottish Rite Mason, thirty-second degree, a member of the Mystic Shrine, a member of Minneapolis Athletic Club, Interlachen Country Club, Minneapolis Golf Club, Six O’Clock Club, and Rotary Club of Minneapolis.  He was an honorary member and past president of the Engineers Club of Minneapolis, a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (President 1920 and 1921), and of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. 

- Based on information in the “History of Minneapolis, Gateway to the Northwest”, 1923

Walter H. Wheeler

1883 - 1974

Photo Minnesota Historical Society

Photo Minnesota Historical Society

Walter Hall Wheeler, the son of Charles and Frances Knowles Wheeler, was born in Potsdam, NY, on April 15, 1883. He was graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1906 with a degree of Engineer of Mining. 

Mr. Wheeler was first employed as a Mining and Construction Engineer by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. in Trinidad, CO, between the years 1906 and 1907. He then became Chief Engineer and Superintendent of Construction for the Dawson Fuel Co., Dawson, NM, in 1907. That same year he became a partner in the firm of Jones & Wheeler, Denver, CO. This partnership was expanded to Jones-Wheeler-Cramner Engineering Co., Denver, CO, and continued until 1912. In 1912 Mr. Wheeler established an architectural and engineering practice in Minneapolis, MN. He continued this practice until 1956 at which time he established the firm of Walter H. Wheeler, Inc. During this time he served as President and Chief Engineer. In 1968 the firm name was changed to Wheeler & Tillitt, Inc. and Mr. Wheeler became Chairman of the Board, a position he held until September 1973. Walter H. Wheeler was an engineering consultant on the design and construction of approximately 1200 projects, including bridges, grain elevators, factories and office buildings throughout the United States and Canada. In 1923 Mr. Wheeler became the engineer for the design and construction of the Fort Snelling-Mendota Bridge for Hennepin County. This bridge, completed in 1926, spans the Minnesota River and is the longest multiple arch reinforced concrete bridge in the world. 

Walter H. Wheeler made significant contributions to the engineering and construction field of reinforced concrete design. He was the inventor of Wheeler Shear head for flat slab construction known as the "Smooth Ceilings" System. He was also a member of the Standard Building Code Committee and the Committee on the Design of Reinforced Concrete Flat Slabs for the American Concrete Institute. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award of the University of Minnesota for the year 1952. He was selected as the Engineer of the Year for the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers in 1964. 

He was a member of the American Concrete Institute, the American Road Builders Association, and the Minnesota and National Society of Professional Engineers; President of the Consulting Engineers Council of Minnesota and a member of the Consulting Engineers Council of the U.S.; and a member of the Society of American Military Engineers. He was also a member of the Minneapolis Engineers Club, the Mayflower Society, the Sons of the American Revolution, Magna Charta Barons, Alpha Delta Phi, and Theta Tau. 

Mr. Wheeler was a staunch defender of the United States Constitution and was active in conservative political organizations and the Hennepin County Republican Party. He was a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, MN. 

Walter H. Wheeler became a Member of the ASCE on October 11, 1920, a Fellow in 1959, and a Life Member in 1953. Mr. Wheeler died on March 18, 1974.

(Memoir prepare by James C. Tillitt.)


1900 – 1983

Hibbert Mosse Hill was a distinguished civil engineer who spent most of his career with Northern State Power Company.  He was an expert on the construction and safe operation of dams, locks, and power plants and consulted on numerous projects in this country and around the work including Panama, Pakistan, and Turkey.  He was born on October 11, 1900 in Boston but his family soon moved to Minnesota and bought property on the shores of Crystal Bay of Lake Minnetonka, where Hill grew up and attended grade school.  Hill attended Minneapolis Central High School (class of 1918) and the University of Minnesota, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1923.  For the next end years or so, Hill worked for the US coast and Geodetic Survey, taught engineering at the U of Minnesota, and worked at United States Engineering Office in St. Paul, and for Northern States Power Company (NSP).  In 1936, he became Superintendent of the St. Anthony Falls Water Power Company, a subsidiary of NSP.   

During World War II, Hill worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers where he worked on specifications for everything from dishwashers to rifles to airfields.  He worked on the feasibility of an underwater gas pipeline between England and France (never built) and on the construction of concrete filled barges sunk along the Normandy coast to provide temporary harbors for the D-Day invasion supply ships.  Hill was awarded the Legion of Merit for his engineering work for the US Army in 1945.  After the war, Hill returned to NSP where he became chief engineer in 1951 and vice-president of engineering in 1962.   

Hill retired from NSP in 1965 but remained very active.  He was a member of the advisory committee on reactor safety for the US Atomic Energy Commission and was one of the three founders of the Gray Freshwater Biological Institute at Lake Minnetonka.  He conducted research on several Minnesota lakes and published several articles in professional journals on a new species of algae he found.  Hill was president of the University of MN Alumni Association and a member of the Edina Park Board and the Chanhassen village council.  He was the official photographer of the professional wrestling circuit in Minneapolis. Hibbert Hill was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the U of Minnesota in 1956 and was awarded the title of “Engineer of the Year” by the MN Society of Professional Engineers in 1965.  He was President of the Northwestern section (now the Minnesota Section) of ASCE in 1934. He died on March 1, 1983.


1906 - 1984

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota

George John Schroepfer, a pioneering leader in the design and management of wastewater treatment and disposal systems and professor emeritus of sanitary engineering in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering at the University of Minnesota, died in Minneapolis on March 11, 1984.

George Schroepfer was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 7, 1906.  He graduated in March 1928 with a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota. An M.S. followed in June 1930, and a professional civil engineering degree was awarded in June 1932.  Schroepfer began studies for a Ph.D., but he was soon sidetracked by an exceptional opportunity and the challenge to play a key role in the development of major (capital costs of $16 million in 1933) new sewage treatment facilities for the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan region. 

In November 1933 he accepted the position as assistant chief engineer for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Sanitary District (now the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission) and was assigned responsibility for the design and construction of these new facilities.  In June 1938, he was appointed chief engineer and superintendent of the Sanitary District. 

These official duties notwithstanding, Schroepfer maintained an active involvement with the University of Minnesota and with sanitary engineering education.  In September 1945 he accepted an appointment as professor of sanitary engineering in the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Minnesota.  Research laboratories were quickly established, and graduate students from around the world arrived to study under Professor Schroepfer’s direction.  In addition, the University of Minnesota quickly became recognized as a leader in sanitary engineering research education. 

Recognition of the exceptional academic and professional talents of George Schroepfer came early.  As a senior-year undergraduate student, he was admitted to the national honor societies of Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi and received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Northwestern Section Senior Student Award.  In 1932, he was admitted to Sigma Xi.  Ten years later, Schroepfer was elected president of the Water Pollution Control Federation; in 1943 he became president of the Northwest Section of ASCE.  (The Minnesota Section formed out of the Northwest Section.) 

He was a consultant to the National War Production Board from 1942 to 1945 and in the postwar years was in great demand as a consultant to companies both in the U.S. and abroad.  His services were especially sought by developing countries and by such agencies as the Pan American Health Organization, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Professor Schroepfer devoted much of his effort to technical and professional societies and received a number of medals and awards in recognition of his contributions.  Included among his honors are the Rudolph Hering Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers (1945) and the George Warren Fuller Award of the American Water Works Association (1957).  Beginning in 1947 with the William D. Hatfield Award, he received almost every award and medal of the Water Pollution Control Federation.  In 1983 the Central States Water Pollution Control Association established the George J. Schroepfer Award to honor exceptional contributions of members to the field of water pollution control, and Professor Schroepfer was the first recipient of this award. 

The Brazilian Section of the Inter-American Association of Sanitary Engineers, the Water Pollution Control Federation and ASCE all elected Professor Schroepfer an honorary member.  These and other such awards, a long list of publications and consulting reports, and his memberships, both regular and honorary, in many professional organizations, are eloquent testimonials to a most distinguished and productive professional career.  In 1981 Schroepfer was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional recognition accorded an engineer by his or her peers and an honor reserved for a very select few in the world engineering community. 

Throughout his active professional career, Professor Schroepfer made many outstanding contributions to the field of environmental (sanitary) engineering, ranging from scientific research to professional practice.  Particularly noteworthy was his pioneering research work on the anaerobic contact process for treating wastewaters having a high concentration of organic matter.  His technical publications in the areas of economics, financing, and charges for wastewater collection and treatment systems were unique; he truly “bridged the gap” between research and practice. 

The sanitary engineer, through the introduction of safe public drinking water supplies and wastewater treatment facilities, has done more during the past 150 years to raise life expectancy worldwide than any other professional.  Schroepfer was aware of these contributions and was also profoundly concerned that a large part of the world still suffered from a lack of these basic needs.  He can take comfort from the fact that the many students who came to learn from him, who came from all corners of the globe, are now themselves pursuing the same objectives and thus multiplying his effectiveness. 

Those who were privileged to know George Schroepfer quickly recognized a man of resolution, determination, and independence; a commanding figure and natural leader – attributes that certainly helped him toward success in his long professional career.  Less immediately visible were his deep and abiding humanitarian concern for others and the wit and charm with which he endeared himself to his colleagues, especially his students. 

-Excerpt from the Memorial Tributes, National Academy of Engineering, Volume 3 (1989) by Joseph T. Ling


 1888 - 1974

Photo Minnesota Historical Society

Photo Minnesota Historical Society

George M. Shepard, son of William Milson and Lucille Mehitable (Thrall) Shepard, was born in Ellington Township, Dodge County, Minnesota, on July 18, 1888. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1909 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. While at the University, he was editor-in-chief of the "Minnesota Engineer," the forerunner of the present "Technology." He was a member of Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, and Theta Tau.

Mr. Shepard became City Engineer of Jamestown, North Dakota in 1912. He spent the next several years in railroad, municipal, and federal engineering engagements, mainly in St. Paul. From 1917 to 1919, he served in the U.S. Army Engineers and retired as Lt. Col. When he returned to St. Paul in 1922, he entered private practice for a time before he was appointed Chief Engineer for the City of St. Paul in December 1922. He resigned from the City in 1927 and became Chief Engineer for the Northern Contracting Co. In 1932 he returned to St. Paul as Chief Engineer. In 1957 he was appointed Street and Highway Engineering Coordinator. His projects included the Twin Cities Lock and Dam, Kittson Sewer Tunnel, control works for the water supply of Boston, Mass., and various bridges. He retired from this post in 1965. 

Mr. Shepard was a member and former Director of the American Public Works Association; a member and past president of NSPE, St. Paul Society of Engineers; past president of Minnesota Federation of Engineering Societies; and a past president of the National Council of State Boards of Engineering Examiners. In addition, he served on the State Board of Registration for Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors (1938-53), and on the Minnesota Highway Study Commission (1953-55). He was also a member of the American Legion, St. Paul Athletic Club, Masonic Lodge and Shriners. 

In 1950, Mr. Shepard received the University of Minnesota Outstanding Achievement Award for accomplishment in the Public Works Field. He was awarded in 1960 the Samuel A. Greeley Scroll, a national service award from the American Public Works Association. This award was made for his distinguished municipal service. 

Mr. Shepard was elected an Associate Member of the Society in 1917, a Member in 1920, and a Fellow in 1959. He also served as Past President of the Minnesota section in 1943.  He died in 1974. 

-Memoir prepared by Walter K. Johnson, F. ASCE.


1911 – 2004


Charles “Chuck” Britzius was an engineer who had a passion for his field of Civil Engineering.  He was the founder of Twin City Testing in 1938, one of the few testing labs in Minnesota at the time. 

When Mr. Britzius began Twin City Testing, they specialized in concrete and structural-steel inspections but expanded to include metallurgy and soil testing in 1985.  During World War II, Twin City Testing performed testing on various federally issued defense items. Twin City Testing conducted a variety of local testing, such as the fuel quality for barges on the Mississippi River and soil quality under the Southdale Mall.  He sold Twin City Testing, but remained with the company in various roles until he retired in 1994. Twin City Testing is now known as Element Materials Technology, where his son Scott Britzius is currently a Project Manager, in St. Paul’s Product Evaluation area. 

Mr. Britzius earned his bachelor’s, as well as master’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota in the early 1930’s. He became a member and Grand Regent of the Theta Tau fraternity and would later be honored by the group in 1972.  He published A History of Theta Tau, a historical view into the fraternity and its members. 

Mr. Britzius was active on many professional boards, and also in various civic roles.  He was a longtime resident and the former mayor of Deephaven, MN.  He was also on the Planning Commission in Deephaven prior to serving as mayor from 1964 to 1968.   

There was also a sporting side to Mr. Britzius, who was inducted into the Minnesota Tennis Hall of Fame at the age of 81.  His sports accomplishments began in 1929, when he won a doubles trophy in the first Minnesota State High School Tournament, representing Rochester, MN.   Then at the U of M he won the Big Ten Doubles Title in 1932 as a junior and the Singles Title in 1933 as a senior.  During those same two years he won the Doubles Title in the National Public Parks Championship.  He was still competing later in life, winning the Senior Division Doubles Title in 1985 at the age of 74.  

Mr. Britzius and his wife Bernice (d. 1994) had five children; Dale, Linda, Frederick, Scott, and Glenn.  When his sons got involved in scouting, he too became involved.  In the late 1960’s, he was awarded the Silver Beaver, the Boy Scouts of America’s highest honor. 

Mr. Britzius received many honors in his lifetime, as well as having one named after him, the Charles W. Britzius Distinguished Engineer Award.  This award recognizes lifetime achievements in engineering, enhancements and contributions to the engineering profession.   

Some of Mr. Britzius’s own awards and recognitions include: 

  •   The Concrete Conference Planning Committee Award

  •   The American Society for Testing & Materials Award of Merit

  •   The Standards Engineering Society’s Outstanding Member Award

  •   The WCCO Good Neighbor Award

  •   Engineer of the Year from the Minneapolis Engineers Club

  •   Engineer of the Year, Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers

  •   Minnesota Sports Champion Award

  •   Career Achievement Award from the National Professional Fraternity Association                   

 Mr. Britzius served presidential terms with the Minnesota chapter of The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers, and St. Paul’s Engineering Society.  He also served as State President, National Director, and National Vice President of the National Society of Professional Engineers, and as committee member and subcommittee chairman for the American Society for Testing and Materials.  Mr. Britzius, a man of many accomplishments and contributions has made and continues to make a substantial impact in Civil Engineering.  

-Courtesy of Element Materials Technology, 2014


 1917 – 1982

Jesse E. Fant, the son of Mark and Maggie Fant, was born in Newcastle, Indiana, on July 9, 1917.  He graduated from Purdue University in May, 1942, with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.  After one year as a junior civil engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Columbus, Ohio, he joined the U.S. Geological Survey in Tucson, Arizona, where he remained through 1945 as Assistant Hydraulic Engineer, Water Resources Branch.  In December, 1945, he came to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, to pursue graduate study under the guidance of Dr. Lorenz Straub, director of the St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory.  Thus he began his long association with the University of Minnesota as a graduate research assistant. 

In 1946, he was assigned as an instructor for courses in surveying.  He received the Master of Science degree in Civil engineering in June 1950, and in 1951 he assumed sole responsibility for all teaching and research in surveying, geodesy and photogrammetry.  Fant faced a major challenge in this assignment.  Surveying, both as taught at the University and as practiced in the state, needed to change dramatically to keep pace with new instrumentation, to rectify serious inadequacies in land title records, and to establish high professional standards.  He set himself to the task, as he put it, of “preparing surveyors for the twenty-first century” and established himself no only as their unquestioned intellectual leader in Minnesota, but also as an important figure in national professional organization of surveying and civil engineering.   

In 1970, he received the Surveyor of the Year Award of the Minnesota Land Surveyors Association.  In 1972, the first Earle Fennell Award of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) was made for his contributions to continuing education, and in 1975, a Presidential Citation of ACSM was given for contributions as chairman of the education committee.  At the University of Minnesota he was appointed Assistant Professor in 1953, Associate Professor in 1961, Professor in 1973 and Associate Head of the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering in 1978. 

As surveyor-photogrammetrist-mapper, Fant was an important and enthusiastic participant in the University Messenia Expedition, an archeological investigation of an ancient Greek civilization.  This involved several trips to the dig site in Greece throughout the 1960’s and early 1970’s. 

It was for the Minnesota Department of Highways (now Department of Transportation) that Professor Fant made one of his most important contributions.  Beginning in the summer of 1957, he conducted a number of surveying training courses for department personnel and developed a major program of education in land surveying.  This program development and the organization of improved survey procedures occupied a major part of his time in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  His efforts produced a corps of highly trained land surveying professionals in the Highway Department, all committed to high standards, and all grateful to the outstanding and caring teacher from whom they were privileged to learn.  This group will continue to serve the state for many years to come. 

Jesse Fant was elected to membership in ASCE in 1942 as a Junior Member; he became as Associate Member in 1953, a Member in 1959, and in 1982 he became a Life Member.  He served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Northwestern Section (now Minnesota Section) in 1952-54 and was President of the section in 1956.  He was also advisor to the University of Minnesota ASCE Student Chapter for several years.  In 1983, the Society’s Award for Service to People was presented to him posthumously.

The qualities of this remarkable man were revealed nowhere more poignantly than during his struggle with the illness to which he finally succumbed.  In September, 1981, Jesse became the oldest person ever to undergo a liver transplant operation, which was performed at the University of Minnesota Hospitals.   Defying all expectations, Professor Fant’s faith and determination to be well contributed to a remarkable recovery and he returned to teaching in January, 1982.  Though the transplant itself was judged a complete success, other organs were later affected, and the end came in November 22, 1982. 

- Prepared by Miles S. Kersten in 1982


 1923 – 2013


John (Jack) E. Meyer, P.E., founder of Meyer Borgman Johnson, passed away on January 2, 2013 at the age of 89. John touched the lives of many people, both professionally and personally and in many different ways. Here at MBJ, he was our leader, mentor, teacher, and friend. Our daily interactions with him showed us the soundness of acting with integrity and the benefits of meeting life with cheer and goodwill toward others. He encouraged us with his humor, generosity, and patience. His “door” was always open to us.

John grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, graduating from Marshall High School in 1941. In the fall of that year, he enrolled in the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota. His education was interrupted by military service between 1943 and 1946, but when he returned to civilian life, he resumed his education and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1947 with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering. 

In 1955, John started his own firm. Partners Jack Borgman and Rollie Johnson subsequently joined him to form our present company, Meyer Borgman Johnson. John’s enthusiasm for structural engineering and the building industry, in general, was infectious. He knew people as well as he knew his craft and mentored many a young structural engineer or architect, bringing insight and clarity to the challenges of building design and project management. 

During his career, John served as president of ASCE in Minnesota, president of the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers, officer of the Minnesota Association of Consulting Engineers (now ACEC/MN), president of the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology Alumni Society, and was a member of various building code committees. 

John was the structural engineer of record for many notable projects in the Twin Cities area. His passion for restoration and adaptive reuse of historic structures led him to contribute immensely to the preservation of some of Minnesota’s most important landmarks. With his knowledge of historical structural practices and materials and his skill as a structural engineer, John helped reclaim many historically significant structures for the continued use and enjoyment of future generations. In 2008, he was recognized for these contributions by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota with a Lifetime Achievement Award. 

A few of John’s landmark projects, both historic and new, include the Minnesota State Capitol, Landmark Center in St. Paul, Minneapolis City Hall, Fort Snelling Commandant’s House and Officers’ Quarters, the St. Paul World Trade Center, Loring Green Towers, and multiple projects at the University of Minnesota. The list is incredibly long!


1909 – 1983

J. Robert (Bob) Calton, the son of Francis R. and Esther Scougale Calton, was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, on September 23, 1909.  The family later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he graduated from North High School in 1927. 

He began his studies at the University of Minnesota in 1928 and graduated in 1932 with an E.M. degree in Mining Engineering.  From 1932 to 1933, he pursued postgraduate work in geology, also at the University of Minnesota.  He married Agnes Bratager on October 22, 1938, at Arlington Hills Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

A long and illustrious career with the St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began in July 1936 when Mr. Calton was hired as a subinspector on the U.S. Dredge “Cahaba.”  In September 1936, he was promoted to dredging inspector, a position he held for 3 years.  He worked on the U.S. Derrick boat No. 566, the U.S. Towboat “General Allen”, and the US. Dredge “William A. Thompson.” 

In September 1939, Mr. Calton accepted the position of Junior Engineer in the Hydraulics and Reports Branch of the St. Paul District Office.  Over the next 11 years, he took on ever-increasing responsibility and advanced to the positions of Assistant Engineer, Associate Engineer, Engineer, and Supervisory Civil Engineer.  In 1950, he became Chief of Planning Branch, Engineering Division, a position he held until his retirement in January 1980.  During his career as Chief of Planning, he was in charge of studies that led to congressional authorization and construction of 28 major flood control and navigation projects with a cost of $535 million.  Among these are projects on the Mississippi River at Prairie de Chien, Wisconsin; the Souris River at Minot, North Dakota; and the Mississippi River at St. Paul-South St. Paul, Minnesota.  In addition, his unit was responsible for 13 small projects at a cost of $9.5 million. 

Throughout his Government service, Mr. Calton’s career was exemplified by outstanding professional performance in every aspect of his work.  His expert writing ability, analytical skills, expertise in planning and policy making, personal integrity, and dedication to the job at hand contributed materially to the successful accomplishment of the mission of the Corps of Engineers. 

His special talents were recognized early in his career.  In 1940 the Office of Chief of Engineers selected him to serve on a technical task force in Washington, D.C.  The task force conducted studies of storms throughout the United States and developed data on the frequency of storm events. 

In the late 1950’s, he was called upon to provide technical assistance and training to Canadian and Manitoban engineering officials on methods used by the Corps of Engineers to determine average annual flood damages. 

From 1963 to 1965, Mr. Calton served as technical advisor to the International Joint Commission on the International Pembina River Basin Study.  The study investigated the possibilities for cooperative development by Canada and the United States of the water resources of the Pembina River basin. 

His duties required personal appearances before many professional and civic groups concerning water resource management and proposed river, harbor, and flood control projects.  He addressed such diverse groups as the Lions Club, the Institute for County Highway Engineers, the North Dakota Natural Resources Council, and the North Dakota Senate Agriculture Committee.  He was also a noted university lecturer.  He conducted seminars on water resources planning, water conservation, floor control planning, and alternatives in water management at the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  In 1969 he was chairman of a seminar on Water Resources Planning Concepts held at the University of Minnesota.  For these accomplishments, he received many letters of commendation and appreciation. 

In 1969 he was presented the Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Office, Chief of Engineers.  The award was given in recognition of his professional service of a unique and distinctive character in the flood fight “Operation Foresight” during the widespread spring floods of 1969.  He fulfilled a vital role by maintaining liaison with the congressional representatives and governors of the states involved in the operation.  He answered inquiries from local city officials and provided flood fight policy interpretation urgently needed by field people in their relations with the public.  During this time, he personally handled essential civil works project activities, because nearly his entire staff of engineers was in the field on flood duty.  This achievement, despite operational difficulties, provided direct benefit to 197 communities and prevented unprecedented potential flood damages. 

In 1971 the governor of Wisconsin requested a reexamination of alternatives to the La Farge Lake project when the project was questioned by conservation groups.  Mr. Calton participated with the District Engineer in an intensive review of the project in Madison, Wisconsin, in April 1971.  He presented an objective portrayal of a wide spectrum of alternatives.  His expertise and personal interest in this effort were instrumental in the governor’s decision to approve construction of the project. 

Mr. Calton was named the St. Paul District Civil Servant of the Year in 1972 for his excellent and conscientious performance of duty and outstanding representation of the District at government meetings and public hearings. 

In 1978 and 1979, Mr. Calton represented the District Engineer as chairman of the United States Section, Water Quantity Committee, International Garrison Diversion Study Board and chairman of the United States Section, Burlington Dam Task Force, International Souris-Red Rivers Engineering Board.  As chairman of these international boards, Mr. Calton was instrumental in developing reports on the effects on Canada of irrigation in the United States by diversion of waters from Lake Sakakawea and improvements proposed for flood control in the United States in the Souris River basin. He brought together information from a variety of sources.  Through intensive negotiation with Canadian representatives, he was able to reconcile differences among the respective parties and prepare special reports for the International Joint Commission.  His knowledge of the subject matter and dedication to this task, together with his extensive contacts and high personal reputation among the Board members, enabled him to produce reports which reflect the highest professional standards. These results were achieved in spite of the fact that many of the local interests involved held strong and divergent views and the political visibility and emotional nature of the issues made a solution difficult.  For these achievements, Mr. Calton received the Department of the Army Decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service. 

After a distinguished career with the Corps of Engineers that spanned 43 years, Mr. Calton officially retired in January 1980.  However, one week after his retirement, he returned to work as a re-employed annuitant and became a member of the GREAT study task force.  His efforts were instrumental in the successful and timely completion of this comprehensive study of the resources and management of the Upper Mississippi River. 

Shortly after his retirement, Mr. Calton was inducted into the St. Paul District Hall of Fame.  This honor is bestowed on deserving former employees who have made significant, lasting contributions and who have inspired the enduring respect of their associates. 

Throughout his life, Mr. Calton was an avid tennis player. Saturday mornings found him on the tennis court defeating coworkers in their 20’s and 30’s, when he was in his 60’s.  In fact, when he retired at the age of 70, his employees presented him with a tennis club membership as a retirement gift. 

He had a lively wit and ready laugh and he enjoyed a good time.  He acted as master of ceremonies for numerous office Christmas parties and official functions and never failed to delight his audiences with his anecdotes and personal observations. 

Mr. Calton was registered as a Professional Engineer in the State of Minnesota and a member of the Society of American Military Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.  He joined ASCE in 1945 and became a Life Member in 1975.  During 1961, he served as President of the Northwest Section of ASCE.  He died on January 9, 1983.


 1914 - 2011


Silberman was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Streeter, N.D., 140 miles west of Fargo.  After it rained, he would crawl in the mud in the alley behind his house, redirecting water through canals left by wagon wheels. 

For decades after his retirement until weeks before his death, Prof. Edward Silberman returned to his office in the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory each Wednesday. Sometimes, he lectured. During graduate students' presentations, he asked tough questions, gave his opinion and, on occasion, revealed a bit of history about the laboratory itself. 

Silberman, who from 1963 to 1974 acted as the University of Minnesota laboratory's director and became its resident historian, died July 5. He was 97. 

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he also began his military career as a member of the ROTC.  Silberman was called to active duty in 1941 and served in the Army Corps of Engineers. 

At the lab, Silberman was fascinated by flows, turbulence, bubbles. With Silberman as its director in the 1960s and 1970s, the laboratory expanded its research reach and nabbed new National Science Foundation dollars. Silberman was the author or co-author of more than 50 publications. 

His curiosity continued well past his retirement in 1981.  He served on the Bassett Creek Water Management Commission not just because of his background, but because as a Golden Valley resident, he often hiked along the creek. 

Until the age of 91, despite several joint replacement surgeries, Silberman played tennis. He beat friends in bridge.


 1910 – 1994

Archie Newton Carter was born on July 20, 1910 in Freemont, Iowa. He was the second of four sons born to John and Cora (Davis) Carter.  Mr. Carter died on May 20, 1994 at his home in Hopkins, Minnesota. He is survived by his wife, Marie, and his brothers, Ivan and Kenneth. 

Mr. Carter graduated from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Engineering and Physics. In 1935 he received a Bachelor’s of Science in engineering from the University of Iowa. He did graduate work at New York University in New York City in 1940. 

His first employment from 1935-1937 was as a Junior Hydraulics Engineer for the U.S. Corps of Engineers at Rock Island, Illinois. From 1937-1939 he built roads on the Firestone rubber plantations in Liberia, West Africa. In 1939 he went with the Engineering-News Magazine and spent the next ten years in their New York and Washington D.C. offices. From 1948 to 1957 he was the manager of the National Highway Division of the Associated General Contractors of America. In 1957 Mr. Cater moved to Hopkins Minnesota where he established an office as a consulting engineer specializing in highways and municipal engineering. He maintained this office until his death at the age of 83 years. 

Mr. Carter was an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers since 1935. He was elected as Fellow in 1959 and a Life Member in 1976. He and his wife Marie traveled the world over attending Society functions. He held numerous offices and committee appointments in the Society including being an officer of three ASCE sections, Metropolitan New York, National Capital and the Minnesota section. He led both the Highway and Construction divisions of the Society and was a National Director of District 7 during the 1970’s. In 1949 he chaired the Society’s national convention in Washington D.C. and was instrumental in enlisting President Harry S. Truman as a speaker. In 1985 he assumed the position of Editor of the ASCE’s Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, a post he continued to hold until his death. For his work on the Journal he was given the Society’s Richard R. Torrens Award in 1990. In 1984 the Society honored him with its William H. Wisely American Civil Engineer Award. He was named Minnesota’s Engineer of the Year in 1984. He held Professional Registration in both the District of Columbia and the State of Minnesota. 

- Memoir prepared by John J. Connors, M. ASCE IN 1994

Lyle Perry Pederson, PhD. P.E.

 1929 – 1984

Lyle Perry Pederson, PhD. P.E., the son of Oscar and Mabel Olson Pederson, was born in Kinbrae, Minnesota on April 23, 1929. He graduated from Fulda High School in 1946, and attended Macalaster College for two years before transferring to the University of Minnesota in 1948, where he obtained a B.C.E. degree in 1952. 

After a short time with the Minnesota Highway Department, Lyle served two years in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy "Seabees" (1953-54), spending most of this time on Midway Island. After completing his service, he returned to the Minnesota Highway Department. 

In 1954 he returned to the University of Minnesota, as a teaching assistant in the Civil Engineering Department. He developed an interest in soils and completed his M.S.C.E. in 1956. He became an Instructor in Civil Engineering in March 1956, and was later promoted to Assistant Professor.

Working with his advisor, Dr. Kersten, Lyle earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in June 1964. His thesis was on the bituminous stabilization of silty soils. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDot) constructed a field project based on the results of his thesis. 

He was active in the Soils and Foundations Conference, and taught special programs such as a summer session for university teachers on asphalt technology, special Master’s programs for geologists of the Corps of Engineers, and special programs for MnDOT engineers. 

After resigning from the University of Minnesota in 1978, Lyle became a Principal Geotechnical Engineer with Subterranean Engineering Corporation (1978-80). He then formed his own geotechnical engineering consulting firm, Lyle Pederson and Associates (1980-81). In 1981 he joined the consulting engineering firm of Mead & Hunt, Inc. as the Minnesota Branch Manager. 

Much of his recent engineering work was on dams, dikes, hydroelectric power development, flood control, lake management, and transportation projects. He was the Geotechnical Engineer in charge of subsurface investigations, foundation design and earth support systems for such clients as Corps of Engineers and Northern States Power Company. Some of his projects included Big Stone Dam on Minnesota River, LaFarge Dam in Wisconsin, International Falls Airport runway extension, Winona, Minnesota flood control project, Sauk Centre, Minnesota study for hydroelectric power potential, and the Anoka, Minnesota study for hydroelectric power potential at the Coon Rapids Dam. 

Lyle was also an instructor in a special Corps of Engineers workshop "Inspection and Evaluation of Safety of Non-Federal Dams". He was a Registered Professional Civil Engineer in the State of Minnesota. 

Lyle contributed extensive time and enthusiasm to the American Society of Civil Engineers and other professional engineering organizations. Lyle joined the Northwestern Section ASCE (now the Minnesota Section) in 1957. He has served on the National ASCE Committee on Embankments, Dams and Slopes. He was on the Minnesota Section ASCE Board of Directors for several years, serving as President in 1983-84. Lyle’s other professional activities included Incoming President and Vice President of the Minnesota Federation of Engineering Societies, a founder and the first President (1969-71) of the Minnesota Geotechnical Society, Geotechnical Committee Chairman of the Consulting Engineers Council of Minnesota, member of the International Society of the Soils Mechanics and Foundation Engineers, member of the Association of Soil and Foundation Engineers, scholarship committee member of the Minnesota Surveyors and Engineers Society, and member of the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers. 

Lyle died on December 9, 1984 in Shoreview, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his first wife Mildred Husnik (they were married on September 3, 1955). He is survived by his wife Lolly (whom he married on June 25, 1976); his children: Michael, Sandi, Gayle, Keith, Steve, Scott, Stuart and Sarah, six grandchildren, his mother, and two brothers. 

On December 12, 1984 the Minnesota Section ASCE Board of Directors established the "Lyle Pederson Memorial Fund" in honor of our distinguished friend and colleague. All contributions are used for soils laboratory equipment for undergraduate teaching use at the University of Minnesota’s Civil & Mineral Engineering Department. 

Abstract of a memoir compiled by Dr. Miles S. Kersten, Hon. M. ASCE, and Robert J. Yourzak, M. ASCE