When I spoke at his funeral, I wanted everyone to know how important Dick was to our companies: American Engineering and Testing Inc. and American Petrographic Services Inc. He was one of the founders in 1989, which today has a staff of more than 300 people. The company's home office is located in St. Paul, Minn., with 18 satellite offices primarily in the upper Midwest. Dick's passing is a huge blow to American Engineering, both professionally and personally. He was an invaluable resource and mentor with his knowledge, wisdom, and experience to many of our engineers and geologists, including myself as a president of American Petrographic.
Whenever he stopped at our petrography lab, he was curious to learn the inner workings of the polarized light microscope and how to identify the optic properties of rocks and cementitious materials. I often teased that he secretly wished he was a geologist; he would have been an excellent one. Dick wasn't shy about prodding people when they needed to get in gear, but he was the first to celebrate. When we had a good month, he'd say, “Let's take a boat ride,” or “Let's go to a Twins game.” Last year, we all went to the St. Paul Curling Club. None of us knew the first thing about curling, but we had a great time.
Immediately after the I-35W Bridge collapsed, Dick was interviewed by WCCO TV, providing technical expertise and fielding questions—describing the tragic situation with dignity and grace. Media services picked up the interview all around the world. With his new role as ACI president, we didn't see him quite as often. He dedicated more time to ACI committee work and traveled as he worked to perpetuate the goals of the institution, as well as his own agenda: encouraging more international participation and contribution.
Dick and I were both avid hockey players and he played several times a week. He collapsed just as one of his games began and died of a heart attack a short while later. He was midway through his term as ACI president. He was a great leader, a great mentor, and a great friend. I will miss him.
Editor's Note: Written and submitted by Scott Wolter, president, American Petrographic Services, St. Paul, Minn.