Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 21
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  • EUGENE J. PELTIER 1910-2004


    EUGENE JOSEPH PELTIER, retired rear admiral, chief of civil engineers, and former chief executive officer of Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates in St. Louis, died February 13, 2004, at the age of 93.

    Eugene was born March 28, 1910, and raised in Concordia, Kansas, the son of Frederick and Emma (Falardeau) Peltier. He attended Kanas State University (KSU), where he met Lena Evelyn Gennette; they married June 28, 1932. He graduated with honors the following year with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and went on to earn his master’s degree in 1934.

    From 1934 to 1940 he was a resident engineer with the Kansas Highway Commission. Commissioned a lieutenant (jg) in the US Naval Reserve on April 30, 1936, he transferred to the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps in the rank of commander in 1946 and subsequently advanced to rear admiral from 1957 until he retired in 1962.

    Reporting for active duty in July 1940, he served until July 1942 as assistant public works officer at the Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois, before a transfer to Boston, where he was senior assistant to the superintending civil engineer, Area I, until November 1944. After three months of instruction at the Naval Construction Battalion Center (Davisville, Rhode Island) he was assigned in early 1945 commanding officer of the 137th Naval Construction Battalion, which landed on Okinawa. At the war’s end in September 1945, he formed and became officer in charge of the 54th Naval Construction Regiment on Okinawa.

    Returning to the United States in December 1945, he reported as public works officer on the staff of the Commander Naval Technical Training Command, Pensacola and Memphis. He remained in that assignment for three years before serving as public works officer of the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville (1949–1951). During that period he had additional duty on the staff of Commander Naval Air Bases, Sixth Naval District.

    In May 1951 he was ordered to the Fourteenth Naval District, Pearl Harbor, where for two years he was district public works officer and officer in charge of construction for the Naval Base. He served briefly as executive assistant to the assistant chief for operations at the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks in Washington, DC (July–December 1953) and then as assistant chief for maintenance and material until February 1956, when he was ordered to duty as commanding officer of the Naval Construction Battalion Center (Port Hueneme, California). In 1957 he was appointed chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and of Civil Engineers of the US Navy, serving as such until his retirement in February 1962.

    He entered the private sector as vice president of the engineering firm of Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates, where he rose to become senior vice president (1964), executive vice president (1966), and president (1967). He also served as president and director of Sverdrup & Parcel International, Inc. and was president and director of Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates of New York. In addition, he was vice president and director of ARO, Inc., and director of Aronetics, Inc., both of Tullahoma, Tennessee, and a director of the Granite City Steel Company in Illinois.

    Among his honors, Rear Admiral Peltier was awarded the Legion of Merit “For exceptionally meritorious conduct . . . from December 1957 to January 1962 as Chief, Bureau of Yards and Docks.” The citation continues in part:
    "Exercising keen foresight and outstanding professional knowledge and ability, Rear Admiral Peltier has set new objectives to adjust to the rapidly advancing technological revolution in the Navy and to provide the best possible engineering support to the Operating Forces and the Shore Establishment. Under his skillful guidance, the implementation of engineered management programs and the revision of guideline specifications, definitive drawings and design manuals have produced tangible savings of considerable magnitude to the Government of the United States. In addition, the Navy’s Public Works Maintenance Program has established an enviable reputation in Industry in the application of the principles of engineered management to the complex problems of maintenance. In the field of Military Construction, he has incorporated the very latest design and construction techniques known to the industry, resulting in new construction at costs below previous levels. His dynamic and effective leadership in implementing streamlined procedures has resulted in more rapid planning, design and construction to meet the critical demands of modern-day weaponry. . . . "

    He also received the Naval Reserve Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, AsiaticPacific Campaign Medal with one engagement star, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

    He received recognition in the civil sector as well: the Award of Merit from the Top Ten Public Works Man of the Year Award (1960) and Consulting Engineers Council (1962), Special Citation Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction (1973), and Engineer of the Year from the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers (1974). KSU recognized him with an honorary doctor of law degree in 1961 and its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1975, and he was a charter member of KSU’s Engineering Hall of Fame.

    A licensed professional engineer in 13 states, Rear Admiral Peltier was active in numerous professional organizations. He was a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of the American Concrete Institute, American Institute of Consulting Engineers, Society of American Military Engineers (president, 1962), Missouri and National Societies of Professional Engineers, Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses, American Public Works Association, Highway Research Board, American Management Association, Consulting Engineers Council, and International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. He was also a director of the American Road Builders Association, senior vice president, and president of the Engineering Division.

    After 56 years of marriage, Lena died in August 1988. A son, Eugene J. Jr., also died earlier. At the time of Eugene’s death, he was survived by daughters Marion Springer (Lawrence, KS), Carole Coulter (Overland Park), and Anne Peltier (Albany, Oregon); son Kenneth N. (Brussels); sisters Theresa Port (Phoenix) and Margaret Kelly (Pasadena, California); 13 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.

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