Environmental Protection

Former CH2M Hill CEO Peterson Passes Away

Ralph R. Peterson, the former chief executive officer of CH2M Hill, died Sept. 1 at his home in Denver, after a long battle with cancer.

Peterson joined the company in 1965. From 1991 through 2008 he was the firm’s chief executive officer.

“It is with great sadness, that I share the news that our dear friend Ralph Peterson has passed away,” said Lee McIntire, current company president and chief executive officer. “He was great man and industry icon. His passion, dedication and leadership built CH2M Hill into the place that I am so proud of today. I will miss his passion and desire to help others succeed. Our thoughts are with his wife Betty, their family and many friends around the world.”

Widely viewed as a sustainable development thought leader in the engineering and construction industry, Peterson led the employee-owned company, growing it to a U.S. $6 billion global engineering, construction and program management enterprise.

When the Board of Directors appointed Peterson president and chief executive officer, the company had 5,300 employees. At that time, CH2M Hill was a consulting engineering firm primarily experienced in water and environmental projects, with most of its work focused on United States federal, state and local government clients and brought in about $400 million. In 2008, the company had 25,000 employees that deliver services in 84 countries to the tune of about $6.4 billion. Thanks in large part to his leadership, vision and passion, the company notes the following accomplishments:

Peterson received numerous industry and professional awards, including:

  • the Colorado Governor’s Award for Outstanding International Trade Development,
  • the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award,
  • Colorado Business Hall of Fame,
  • Oregon State University Academy of Distinguished Engineers and Engineering Hall of Fame,
  • American Society of Civil Engineers President’s Medal,
  • National Academy of Construction inductee, and
  • Keystone Center Leadership in Industry Award.
In October, Peterson was to receive the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) 2009 Distinguished Award of Merit.

Peterson also served as chief executive officer for the Coalition to Advance Sustainable Technology, and played an important role in President Clinton’s National Environmental Technology Initiative. He served as a private sector delegate at international forums including the World Water Forum, China’s National Sustainable Development Conference, and the Rio + 5 Summit.

Born in Hayti, Mo., on Oct. 12, 1944, Peterson is survived by his wife Betty D. Peterson, two grown children, Jamie Jones and Jeffrey Peterson, five grandchildren, three brothers and five sisters.

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