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In memory: Jim Howland

DENVER—CH2M HILL co-founder Jim Howland died Aug. 28, 2008, at his home in Corvallis, Ore. He was 92. Howland served as the general manager of the engineering firm Cornell, Howland, Hayes, and Merryfield almost since its inception in 1946. After the firm incorporated in 1966, Howland became president, a position he held through 1974. He was chairman of the board of CH2M HILL from 1974 to 1977.

In the 1930s at Oregon State College in Corvallis (now Oregon State University), Howland met his future partners—Burke Hayes, Holly Cornell, and Professor Fred Merryfield. It’s where the first discussions took place about opening an engineering firm.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a Tau Beta Pi fellowship, Howland earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He married Ruth Meisenhelder in 1941.

In the spring of 1944, Capt. Howland was deployed to Saipan where he was in charge of the planning effort to build the island’s military infrastructure, including hospitals, airfields, and water systems. As the war was winding down, the four partners-to-be finalized plans to launch Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merryfield, the firm name being based on the order in which the former students returned from the war. It was later shortened to CH2M.

After retirement in 1982, Howland was appointed by Governor Victor G. Atiyeh to the Oregon Water Resources Board, where he served from 1986 to 1994. He also continued to work with CH2M HILL when it partnered with the National League of Cities to fund an award program for municipal enrichment. The program recognizes communities that, through policies and planning, preserve and enrich the quality of life.

Howland is survived by his wife, three sons, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.