Thomas R. “Tom” Walther, a municipal transportation engineer, former ASCE Wisconsin Section and Northwest Branch officer, national ASCE Board of Direction member and past Society presidential nominee, has died. He was 73.
He knew from an early age that he wanted to “build roads,” and he found the best way to do that was to become a civil engineer. The only thing he was more passionate about was serving the engineering profession.
Walther, P.E., F.ASCE, studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and in 1967 became a charter member of the ASCE student chapter there. In December of that year, the chapter sponsored a “computer dance” (the precursor to today’s online dating apps), where he met his wife of 45 years, Bonnie. In 1971 he began his first job with the Iowa Department of Transportation, where he stayed for 10 years and earned his P.E. licenses for Iowa and Wisconsin. Walther then worked 28 years as Eau Claire County, Wisconsin highway commissioner. His duties included oversight of what is now the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport for five years, and oversight of county landfill operations for 15 years. Walther followed his public service contributions with a few brief postretirement stints with Chippewa County, TEC Design, and Ayres Associates.
Walther was extremely active with ASCE throughout his career and into retirement. He served as president of the Wisconsin Section and of its Northwest Branch. He served two terms on the ASCE Board of Direction, first as District 8 director, then after a reorganization, as the first Region 3 director, concluding his two terms in 2009. He served on eight national committees in areas ranging from contract documents to strategic planning, participated in 10 legislative fly-ins and seven multi-region leadership conferences, and served as a judge of the concrete canoe competition. A highlight of Walther’s ASCE involvement came in 2015 when he was an official nominee for Society president. After a bit of a hiatus, he was asked to rejoin the Wisconsin Section board as director at-large.
“Today is a sad day, as Tom was very influential in the civil engineering community here in Wisconsin and nationally. … [He] treated everyone, no matter their age, with great respect,” said Kenneth R. Mika, P.E., M.ASCE, senior project manager with Tetra Tech Inc. and a fellow ASCE board member.
Walther enjoyed fishing, and when possible, traveled to Civil War battlefields and other historic sites with his family.