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Tilt-Up Industry Loses Two Pioneers and Peter Courtois Recipients

William M. Simpson, 1921 – 2009

Simpson, William M., a structural engineer extraordinaire, died on May 12, 2009 of natural causes in Seattle, WA. Born on June 18, 1921 in Ottumwa, Iowa, he moved to Southern California at an early age and was the only child of Stuart and Marie Simpson. He leaves behind four children and six grandchildren. Mr. Simpson was an avid sports fan and an athlete. He played high school basketball which earned him a full college scholarship. One of his favorite memories was playing against Jackie Robinson. He graduated at the top of his class in Structural Engineering at the University of Colorado, Fort Collins in 1946, and was the Class President and Captain of the University basketball team.

He enjoyed an illustrious career at William M. Simpson, a Consulting Structural Engineering firm which he founded in 1957 in South Pasadena then relocated to Newport Beach, CA in 1968. The firm continues to operate successfully in Lake Forest, CA as one of his legacies. Mr. Simpson participated in variety of projects such as Dodger Stadium, Pontiac Stadium, the Haj Terminal in Saudi Arabia and many other national and international projects throughout his career. He was also a great mentor to many successful Architects and Engineers throughout his life. He helped pioneer innovative engineering techniques such as enhancing the slender-wall design concept. He was the chairman of the ACI – SEAOSC Task Committee on Slender Wall Design in the early 1980s which resulted to the publication of “The Green Book”. In 2002, he was recognized with the TCA’s Peter Courtois Memorial Award, for his contribution to the advancement of the tilt-up industry for more than half a century.

After his retirement in 1996, Mr. Simpson continued to enjoy engineering challenges in Kitsap County, WA. A Memorial Service was held June 27th. In accordance with his family’s request, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to a charity of your choice. He will be greatly missed by his family and countless friends!


Robert E. Tobin, 1917 – 2009

Long time SEAOSC member Bob Tobin died peacefully at the age of 92. He was the oldest of five children born in Casper, Wyo., to Irish immigrant parents. A resident of Arcadia, he is survived by his wife of 66 years, Gertrude, and their six children and families: Bob is remembered for his firm and honest handshake, his welcoming Irish hospitality, pride in his family and, of course, his knack with the fiddle. Graduating from the University of Wyoming in Civil Engineering, Bob holds a place of honor in the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the field of Structural Engineering. He had a long and distinguished career beginning as a young man in Yellowstone Park building roads, highways, and bridges. It was there that he met his wife. During WW II, at the age of 23, he served as a professor of Civil Engineering at Gonzaga University leaching Navy recruits.

Tobin was a highly-respected, nationally-recognized authority in the concrete industry. His remarkable career spans 60 years and includes more than 28 years with the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and its consulting subsidiary, Construction Technology Laboratories, Inc. Involved in the early days of Tilt-Up construction, Tobin spearheaded efforts in the development of methods for pumping concrete. Known as “Mr. Concrete” or “The Ultimate Concrete Technologist,” his practical approaches in the fields of evaluation, testing and the design of construction materials proved to be effective in the development of several new testing methodologies. “During the development of the formal PCA manual, Tilt-Up Load Bearing Walls, and prior to it, Bob had come up with simplified methods that approximated the behavior of slender walls,” said Dr. Koladi Kripanarayanan, the 2005 recipient of the Peter Courtois award. “These methods helped in the understanding of the behavior and eventually to the commitment of PCA towards the development of the manual. He also helped in the marketing of the Tilt-Up methodology to the design profession.”

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.