CLARKSON H. OGLESBY
BY EUGENE L. GRANT
PROFESSOR CLARKSON H. OGLESBY of Stanford University died on August 23, 1992. He had a distinguished career in two fields, highway engineering, and construction engineering and management.
His Highway Engineering, first published in 1954, has been a leading text and reference book for nearly forty years. Shortly before his death he completed his portion of the manuscript for the fifth edition of this classic, now coauthored with Professor R. G. Hicks of Oregon State University.
From 1950 to 1988 he was active in various administrative and research activities of the Transportation Research Board (formerly the Highway Research Board [HRB]) of the National Research Council. Over the years he held a variety of appointments with the board, including chairmanship of its Committee on Highway Engineering Economy (1969–1970); councilor of its Group 1: Transportation Systems Planning and Administration (1970–1975 and 1978–1982); and chairmanship of Group 1's Section B—Social, Economical, and Environmental Factors (1978–1981). He was author or coauthor of a number of papers presented at HRB meetings; these generally dealt with some aspect of the economic analysis of high-ways. Two papers of which he was the senior coauthor won "best paper" prizes at the 1969 and 1971 annual HRB meetings; one dealt with the economics of design standards for
low-volume rural roads and the other with the economic aspects of choices among various possible locations for urban freeways.
After a number of years with the Arizona Highway Department and a couple of years as chief engineer for a construction company, he returned to his alma mater, Stanford University, in 1943 as a member of its civil engineering faculty. Early in his Stanford teaching career he initiated two well-received undergraduate courses, one in construction estimates and costs and the other in construction equipment and methods. Before long there was a graduate program in construction engineering and management that had two full-time, tenured faculty members. As time went on, this program expanded to having four full-time, tenured faculty members and became the model for many similar programs elsewhere, first throughout the United States and, eventually, throughout the world. For several years following his retirement from Stanford in 1974, Oglesby was technical adviser and visiting professor at universities in Colombia, Chile, Australia, and South Africa.
Professor Oglesby received many honors and awards. These included the Golden Beaver Award for outstanding contributions to heavy construction (1964); honorary membership, American Society of Civil Engineers (1982); the S.S. Steinberg Award, American Road and Transportation Builders Association (1983); the Construction Engineering Educator Award, National Society of Professional Engineers (1985); the Peurifoy Construction Research Award, American Society of Civil Engineers (1988); membership, National Academy of Engineering (1989); and the Carroll H. Dunn Award, Construction Industry Institute (1991).
The memorial resolution adopted by the Stanford University faculty, which was prepared by three of his colleagues on Stanford's construction engineering faculty, Professors Raymond E. Levitt, John W. Fondahl, and Boyd C. Paulson, Jr., concluded with the following two paragraphs:
The professional and academic accomplishments of Clarkson Oglesby are truly remarkable. However, he will probably be remembered long
est and most fondly for the mentorship and advice that he provided to more than two generations of colleagues and students, including the members of this memorial committee. He had an innate ability to perceive the needs, aspirations, and talents of other people, and he had the motivation and interest to help them succeed in life. When a student or friend needed advice, Clark Oglesby was never too busy to listen with genuine concern, and then to ask exquisitely framed questions that enabled students or colleagues to know their own minds, and then make informed decisions that might launch or redirect their careers or personal affairs. At a dinner held in 1991 to establish a graduate fellowship in his honor, past students of Professor Oglesby—many now leaders of large companies or agencies in the construction industry—stood up one after another, choking on their words, as they expressed their appreciation for the measured guidance, the sage counsel, and the deep and caring friendship shown to them by Professor Clarkson Oglesby.
In his life, and right up to his death, his wisdom, humility, warmth and enthusiasm was, and remains, an inspiration to his colleagues, his students, his peers, and his community.
Professor Oglesby is survived by his wife, Ardis; by his daughters, Marjorie Zellner, Judith Donaghey, and Virginia Hancock; and by four grandchildren.