DENVER — Ralph R. Peterson died Sept. 1, 2009, at his home in Denver, after a long battle with cancer. Peterson joined CH2M HILL in 1965 as its 148th employee. From 1991 through 2008 he served as the firm’s CEO.
“It is with great sadness, that I share the news that our dear friend Ralph Peterson has passed away,” said CH2M HILL President and current CEO Lee McIntire. “He was a great man and industry icon. His passion, dedication, and leadership built CH2M HILL into the place that I am so proud of today. I will miss his passion and desire to help others succeed. Our thoughts are with his wife Betty, their family, and many friends around the world.”
Widely viewed as a sustainable development thought leader in the engineering and construction industry, Peterson led the employee-owned CH2M HILL for 18 years, growing it to a $6 billion global engineering, construction, and program management enterprise.
In 1991, when the board of directors appointed Peterson as CH2M HILL’s president and CEO, the company had 5,300 employees. At that time, CH2M HILL was a consulting engineering firm primarily experienced in water and environmental projects, with most of its work focused on United States federal, state, and local government clients.
Today, the company has more than 25,000 employees delivering engineering, construction, program management, and operations and maintenance services in 84 countries and on six continents. Revenue grew from approximately $400 million in 1991 to $6.4 billion in 2008.
Peterson was honored with numerous industry and professional awards for his commitment to the profession and community service. Accolades include the Colorado Governor’s Award for Outstanding International Trade Development, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award, Colorado Business Hall of Fame, Oregon State University Academy of Distinguished Engineers and Engineering Hall of Fame, American Society of Civil Engineers President’s Medal, National Academy of Construction inductee, and Keystone Center Leadership in Industry Award. In October Mr. Peterson was to receive the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) 2009 Distinguished Award of Merit.
Peterson also served as CEO for the Coalition to Advance Sustainable Technology, and played an important role in President Clinton’s National Environmental Technology Initiative. He served as a private-sector delegate at international forums including the World Water Forum, China’s National Sustainable Development Conference, and the Rio + 5 Summit. He was a member of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Business Environment Leadership Council of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, Secretary of Energy’s National Petroleum Council and the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness.
Born in Hayti, Mo., Oct. 12, 1944, Peterson is survived by his wife Betty D. Peterson; two grown children, Jamie Jones and Jeffrey Peterson; five grandchildren; three brothers; and five sisters.