Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 11
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  • CARROLL H. DUNN SR. 1916–2003


    CARROLL H. DUNN SR., former deputy chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and senior vice president of Consolidated Edison and head of the Business Rountable Construction Industry Effectiveness Project, died at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on January 31, 2003, at the age of 86. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery on March 6, 2003.

    Carroll was born in rural Arkansas, the second of three surviving sons. While in grade school, his back was badly burned and he was bedridden for several months. However, he persevered, recovered, and completed his public school education. He then enrolled at the University of Illinois on a ROTC scholarship and received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1938. While a student at Illinois, he met Letha Jontz; the couple was married immediately after Carroll’s graduation, a union that lasted until his death in 2003.

    Upon graduation from Illinois, Carroll was assigned to active duty in Laredo, Texas, where he embarked on a distinguished military career. He became a combat engineer battalion commander and served with the 30th Infantry Division in WWII, landing at Omaha Beach and participating in the final drive into Germany.

    He was wounded by an enemy mine, but, after two months in a hospital in England, he rejoined his unit. Carroll’s “Memoirs,” which were written by the Historian for the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Engineers, include fascinating stories of many engineering innovations during the European invasion.

    During his postwar military career, he had many assignments, both domestic and overseas, in Japan, Greenland, Korea, and Vietnam. He wrote a book describing construction and logistics support for the U.S. and Free World Forces in Vietnam. His assignments included heading the Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi, directorship of construction of the Titan II Missile System in the early 1960s, and Southwest Division Engineer, which was responsible for construction of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston and many other projects.

    At one time, Carroll was responsible for military construction in the Army, Air Force, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and other government agencies, as well as the Army Nuclear Power Program and specialized engineering support for the construction of fallout shelters for Civil Defense.

    Carroll’s final assignments in the Army were as deputy chief of engineers, director of the Defense Nuclear Agency, and chairman of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. He retired from military service as a lieutenant general in September 1973 after a remarkable 35-year career. After retiring from the military, he launched into two new careers. In 1973, he joined Consolidated Edison Company of New York, where he was senior vice president for construction, engineering, and environmental affairs until 1981.

    Among his many accomplishments at Consolidated Edison were several pioneering environmental remediation projects. In his later years, he became active in the Business Roundtable Construction Industry Effectiveness (CICE) Project. Carroll’s leadership of the CICE Project resulted in a series of landmark reports that are still in distribution.

    The Project extended over a period of several years and involved more than 250 volunteer executives, in addition to many universities, and publication of 23 individual reports and a summary report. More than two million copies of these reports have been distributed to date.

    One of the CICE Project’s recommendations was the establishment of a continuing research program for the construction industry. Carroll was instrumental in establishing the Construction Industry Institute (CII), which satisfied that recommendation. Even after his retirement from the Roundtable in 1988, he remained an active supporter of CII. The institute named its most prestigious award the Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence, and Carroll himself was the first recipient in 1985.

    Carroll Dunn received many other awards in recognition of his illustrious accomplishments. The long list of his military awards can best be summarized by the rare Chief of Engineers Award for Outstanding Public Service, which he was given by current and past Chief Engineers 20 years after his retirement from the military.

    Carroll was elected to the National Academy of Construction and the National Academy of Engineering. He held prominent positions in church and civic organizations, including presidency of the Board of Governors of Pinehurst Country Club, the former home of the Golf Hall of Fame. Carroll Dunn always had an allegiance to higher education. Although his baccalaureate degree was in mechanical engineering, he received a master’s degree in civil engineering from Iowa State University in 1947.

    The University of Texas at Austin established the Carroll H. Dunn Endowed Graduate Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of Carroll’s contributions to higher education. Carroll often cited his family and personal friendships as his most significant accomplishments. He and Letha worked together as a team raising their two children, five grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. Letha, who died recently, assisted in editing all of the CICE reports; she was also an accomplished pianist who performed in numerous venues.

    Their daughter, Carolyn Dunn Dean, recently deceased, was the mother of three children (Robert, Mike, and Brian). Carroll H. Dunn Jr. (Stretch), followed in Carroll’s footsteps; after retiring from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he recently retired from private industry and is now a consultant in Birmingham, Alabama. Stretch has two children (Steve and Cheryl).

    Carroll and Letha doted on their family. They had personalized license plates on their car composed of the initials of their grandchildren. They never missed family events and drove cross country several times to watch their grandson play professional baseball. They could quote their grandchildren’s grades and test scores.

    Much has been said about the lasting benefits to our nation from the WWII generation, and Carroll Dunn was the epitome of that generation. His many titles and awards reflect his dedication and hard work driven by love of God, love of family, and love of country. This man of integrity and high principles will be missed by the engineering community.


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