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National Academy of Engineering Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10
Membership Directory
PublisherNational Academies Press
Copyright2002
ISBN978-0-309-08457-4
Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10

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  • CLAIR A.HILL
    
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             CLAIR A.HILL                                             133
    
                                CLAIR A.HILL
    
    
                                      1909–1998
    
                                  BY BEN C.GERWICK
    
                CLAIR HILL, cofounder of CH2M-Hill, the internationally recognized firm of
             engineering consultants, died on April 11, 1998. He was eighty-eight years old.
                He was born on April 20, 1909, in Redding, California. After studying
             forestry at Oregon State University, he graduated from Stanford University in
             1934 with a degree in civil engineering.
                After a brief stint with Standard Oil Company (now Chevron) and the
             California Department of Transportation, he returned to Redding to form his own
             firm, Clair A.Hill and Associates, specializing in water resources and mapping.
             From 1941 to 1945 he served in the U.S. Army in a bomb disposal and ordnance
             unit in the Aleutian Islands, returning in 1945 to reactivate his engineering firm in
             Redding. He became one of the principal authors of the California Water Plan
             Commission and was considered as principally responsible for its subsequent
             adoption and implementation. In 1971 his firm merged with CH2M to become
             CH2M-Hill, where he served as the California regional manager until his
             retirement in 1976.
                Clair Hill early recognized the importance of photogrammetry and the
             computerized solutions to problems in water resource engineering and planning.
             It was his interest in water resources and agriculture that led to his proposing and
             developing the idea for creation of the Whiskeytown Lake Reservoir in Northern
             California. In 1968 Congress and the president renamed the dam
    
    
                 
    
    
             CLAIR A.HILL                                             134
    
             “The Clair A.Hill Whiskeytown Dam,” a rare honor for a person still living.
                Throughout his career, Clair Hill was at the heart of water planning and
             development in California, serving on the California Water Commission from
             1949 until the mid-1990s, including a tour as chairman. He was the commission’s
            only honorary life member.
                Clair Hill received numerous awards and honors for his work in water
            resources, including an honorary lifetime membership in the American Society of
            Civil Engineers and the Association of California Water Agencies Lifetime
            Achievement Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in
            1992.
                Clair Hill enthusiastically addressed each new development that could
            enhance his work, learning to fly his own airplane in order to carry out his
            photogrammetry, and embracing geotechnical engineering when he recognized its
            importance in water resource engineering and irrigation.
                His enthusiasm and energy propelled his firm from its start as a single person
            to partnership in a worldwide firm that today numbers more than 3,000
            employees.
    
    
                 
    
    
             CLAIR A.HILL                                                     135
    
    
                  
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