Frank C. Bohlander, former chief engineer of Westchester County, New York, and an ASCE life member who joined the Society in 1949, has died. He was 97.
Bohlander, P.E., L.S., F.ASCE, worked for the county for 18 years, the last 12 as public works commissioner. “The county is one place where you can conceive an idea, you can sell it, have it funded through the budget, design it, construct and maintain it, all yourself within your own bailiwick,” he once said. “To me, that's incredible, at least for an engineer or a public-works commissioner.”
He was a Navy veteran of World War II who had attended St. Lawrence and Union College before serving in the South Pacific on the USS Comstock and the USS Oak Hill until the war’s end. He then earned a civil engineering bachelor's degree from Clarkson College of Technology in Potsdam, New York, and began his public works career in 1968. He worked for the state of New York and the East Hudson Parkway Authority for 20 years before his time in Westchester.
Bohlander once turned down what he called a “lucrative position” in Manhattan to remain in Westchester among people he knew and liked. But as commissioner, he could be frustrated by politics that scuttled countless projects and was even hospitalized once with stress-related chest pains. “The system doesn't frustrate me,” he once told The New York Times. “It's individual pettiness that sometimes gets to me. Lack of courage, shall we say, by political people to take a stand when we all know something should be done.”
Aside from ASCE, he kept active in other professional societies as well. Well-respected by his peers, he was honored with many awards. His two sons are civil engineers, as are two of his grandsons.