Hanson’s founder, Walter E. Hanson, dies at 93

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April 6, 2010

Contact: Amy Kay, Public Relations Coordinator
Hanson Professional Services Inc.
(217) 747-9283

Hanson’s founder, Walter E. Hanson, dies at 93

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The founder of Hanson Professional Services Inc., Walter E. Hanson, 93, of Springfield, Ill., died on Sunday morning, April 4, 2010, among family in the affectionate care of St. John's Hospice.

Walter was born July 14, 1916, on a farm near Lyndon, Kan., the son of Andrew and Laura Hanson. He married Sue Roling on Sept. 14, 1940, in Durant, Okla. Walter and Sue were married for 67 years when she passed away in 2008.

Walter earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University in 1939.  In 1942, he and his wife moved to Champaign, Ill., where Walter taught engineering courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) while completing his master’s degree in civil engineering.  That pursuit was briefly interrupted after Walter enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served overseas during World War II. 

In 1946, Walter returned to UIUC to finish his master’s degree and to become an associate professor of civil engineering.  His experience included six years with the University of Illinois, serving successively as instructor, assistant professor and associate professor, and teaching structural analysis and design, soil mechanics and foundation engineering.  As an associate professor, he received two consecutive awards for effective teaching.

It was during Walter’s tenure at UIUC that he wrote several papers dealing with both structural and foundation engineering and joined Ralph Peck and Tom Thornburn in writing “Foundation Engineering,” a textbook that is used by practicing engineers and students today.

In 1951, Walter transitioned from the academic arena to the practicing engineering field, becoming engineer of bridge and traffic structures for the state of Illinois in Springfield.  In October 1954, Walter founded his own consulting engineering firm — W.E. Hanson and Associates — now known as Hanson Professional Services Inc.  The firm Walter created is now a national, employee-owned consulting firm providing engineering, architecture, planning and allied services with headquarters in Springfield and offices nationwide.  Walter also was instrumental in partnering in several innovative joint ventures both in the U.S. and internationally, and he arbitrated many construction disputes locally, nationally and abroad.  He retired as Hanson's board chairman in 1986.

Walter was a respected author, lecturer and teacher who shared his theories, principles and applications through professional journals, seminars and higher-education forums.  Recognized as a leading expert in foundation design, one of Walter’s greatest accomplishments was the career opportunities he helped create for countless engineers.  Throughout his career, Walter attracted numerous individuals to the engineering profession. 

Walter’s service to the engineering profession included membership and leadership roles in many organizations, including the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois, American Society of Civil Engineers, Illinois Engineering Council, Illinois Society of Professional Engineers, Illinois Structural Engineers Examining Committee, International Water Resources Association, National Academy of Forensic Engineers, National Consulting Engineers Council, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Structural Engineers Association of Illinois.

Throughout his career, Walter also received several awards for his engineering achievements.  Among them were the American Society of Engineers’ Honorary Member Award, Structural Engineering Association of Illinois’ John Parmer Award, and the University of Illinois’ College of Engineering Honor Award for Distinguished Service.  A scholarship – the Walter E. Hanson Graduate Study Award – was established in his name at UIUC in 1977.  From 1997 to 2002, the Hanson Professorship at the University of Illinois also served as a testament to Walter’s distinguished career and the success of Hanson Professional Services Inc. 

In 2006, Walter was inducted into the Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame.  In 2007, Walter’s biography, “From a Kansas Farm to the Engineering Hall of Fame:  The Legacy of Walter E. Hanson, P.E., S.E., Hon. M. ASCE,” was written by Janice A. Petterchak and published by Legacy Press.

In addition to his business and professional affiliations, Walter was active in several civic and community activities.  He was involved with the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Commission on Higher Education, Kansas State University – University Foundation President’s Club, Kiwanis International, Sangamon State University Foundation, Springfield College of Illinois Board of Trustees, University of Illinois Civil Engineering Alumni Association, and the University of Illinois National Leadership Committee and President’s Club.

Hanson is a national, employee-owned consulting firm providing engineering, architecture, planning and allied services. The Springfield-area office is located at 1525 S. Sixth St., Springfield, IL  62703.  The office may be reached by phone: (217) 788-2450 or fax: (217) 788-2503.


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