Memorial Tributes: Volume 27
IsNew No

Search this Publication

  • ADRIAN ZACCARIA (1944-2022)



    ADRIAN ZACCARIA, retired vice chairman, Bechtel Group Inc., died on Sept. 7, 2022, at the age of 77.

    The eldest child of Carlo and Lucia (Ruggeri) Zaccaria, Adrian was born on Oct. 7, 1944, in Calabria in southern Italy. His parents had met and married in Italy while Carlo was stationed there as an American GI during World War II. After the war, Carlo brought his family to the United States, where Lucia and Adrian immigrated through Ellis Island and later settled in Boston. After being accepted to both West Point and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, Adrian chose the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Adrian always looked back on these days with pride. Adrian received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and was inducted into its Hall of Distinguished Graduates in February 2005.

    Upon graduation in 1966, he had earned a B.S. in natural science, a Coast Guard license, and a commission in the Navy. The academy taught him the importance of “actions not words” — actions built on integrity, courage, service, and respect. Following graduation, Adrian worked for a merchant marine company as an officer aboard freighter and passenger-class vessels. By his early 20s, he had sailed the world, seen different countries and cultures, and experienced what he called “the power of the tumultuous and tempestuous seas.” Those seas would prepare him for the seas of life as well.

    After meeting on Cape Cod, Adrian and Mary Sandra McRae were married in 1967. Their daughter, Adriana, was born a year later, and their son, Justin, was born in 1978. Adrian was well known within the industry and was much loved and respected because he was an approachable and supportive leader. He was inclusive and very social, which put all who worked for him or knew him at ease. While Adrian participated in many social activities in his leadership roles, he particularly enjoyed meeting people, playing tennis, and sailing. While his golf game was not as promising, he was a good sport and a great person to have in your foursome.

    Adrian started his career as a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard and as an officer for Isbrandtsen Lines, followed by positions as an engineer for Raytheon and General Dynamics. Adrian joined Bechtel’s Power & Industrial Division in 1971. For the following 16 years, he took on progressively more responsible assignments and served as project manager for two major nuclear construction projects. In 1987, Adrian was named manager of Bechtel Western Power’s Houston office and was elected senior vice president. The following year he was made deputy manager of operations and then executive vice president of Bechtel Power Corporation, with responsibility for the nuclear services business line. Adrian was elected a director of Bechtel Group Inc. in February 1989 and was named president of Bechtel Power in August 1989. In September 1994 he was named president of Bechtel’s Global Energy Industries, and the following year he became Bechtel’s president and COO—positions he held until April 2008.

    Adrian Zaccaria retired as vice chairman and a director of Bechtel Group Inc. in April 2012 after an illustrious 41-year career. He was known within the company, usually by his nickname AZ, as a visionary and compassionate leader. He was admired both for driving all of us to “perform, perform, perform” to meet our customers high expectations and for caring about our people. While driving Bechtel’s extensive and diverse portfolio of projects, Adrian also focused on key strategies for the future, including delivering on customer expectations and pursuing business opportunities in alternative energy.

    Adrian was a dedicated supporter of engineering excellence within Bechtel and the NAE more broadly. He promoted the consideration and election of many candidates, focusing mostly on engineering leaders from industry whom he felt were underrepresented in the Academy. Among Adrian’s many volunteer activities at the NAE, he acted as vice chair and chair of his favorite section’s (Electric Power) executive committee (2013-17) and as a member of the Finance Committee. In addition to his numerous Bechtel task forces, Adrian served on the board of directors of a key nuclear industry group, Nuclear Utility Management and Resources Council (now Nuclear Energy Institute), on the Johns Hopkins University Advisory Board, on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, and others.

    Adrian found time to present and author several technical publications, such as “The Art and Science of Site Selection,” presented at the April 1979 American Society of Civil Engineers National Convention in Boston; a management seminar presentation, “Operating in the Entrepreneurial Environment,” presented at Stanford University in October 1985; and “Engineering at STP,” which he presented at an International Edison Science Youth Day Symposium at the University of Houston in February 1988. He presented at the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 1992 on “Seizing Opportunities in the Pacific Rim.” He presented on such diverse topics as “Globalization and Value of Cost Engineering” at the American Association of Cost Engineers in Orlando, Florida, and “The 1990s: A Decade of Opportunity; A Decade of Challenge” at the Salomon Brothers Power Generation/E&C Conference in New York, both in June 1992. Adrian also served as vice chairman and keynote speaker of the 17th Congress of the World Energy Council in September 1998.

    Adrian received a nomination from Engineering News-Record magazine as “Construction’s Man of the Year” as part of a three-person team cited for performance on the South Texas Nuclear Project. He was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2007 “for leadership in the design, construction, and maintenance of power plants and other types of engineering facilities all over the world.” He considered being elected to the NAE not only as an accomplishment and a milestone recognition but also as a duty and a commitment.

    Adrian is survived by his wife, Sandy; children, Adriana and Justin; sisters, Carla and Lisa; and five loving grandchildren.