SCS Engineers (SCS) founding principal, former president, and Chairman of the Board, Robert P. Stearns, has died at 75.
Stearns, who lost his battle with cancer, passed away on Thursday, August 1, 2013, at his home in Idyllwild, California.
Stearns had a strong work ethic that was grounded in his early years doing chores on the family farm in Iowa, recalls Jim Walsh, current SCS president.
Stearns attended the University of Iowa, graduating with a BS in Civil Engineering. His summer job as a surveyor of logging roads near Yosemite National Park for the Forest Service seeded a life-long love of nature, especially of mountain forests and of California.
Following a stint as a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps, Stearns started his professional career as a sanitary engineer for the city of Los Angeles, where he dedicated himself to improving the city’s solid waste collection and disposal practices for seven years. In 1970, Stearns co-founded SCS Engineers with partners, Tom Conrad and Curt Schmidt. Conrad notes that, “Bob, the first ‘S’ in SCS, applied both his strong technical, business, and interpersonal skills to help create then lead one of the nation’s first consulting firms to focus on environmental engineering services.”
In his role as SCS’s president during most of his 36-year career at SCS, Stearns was widely recognized for applying engineering principles to support and improve waste industry business practices, and for his commitment to the ethical practice of engineering. During his tenure and under his leadership, SCS designed many waste disposal sites, transfer stations, and landfill gas-to-energy facilities, growing to be one of the country’s largest engineering and contracting firms that focused on the delivery of environmentally sound solutions for the waste management and remediation business sectors.
Projects of particular note include the preparation of plans and subsequent construction management for the closure of New York City’s Fresh Kills Landfill, then the largest waste disposal site in the world, and the landfill gas control and recovery features at the Pacific Palms Resort convention and golf course complex in the City of Industry, CA, built on and around a closed industrial waste landfill. The Pacific Palms Resort project earned the “Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement” of the year award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1981.
Retiring from SCS in 2006, Bob remained active as SCS’s Chairman of the Board; chair of the Environmental Research and Educational Foundation (EREF); an active member of the Detachable Container Association (DCA); and board member of several educational and cultural foundations in southern California. Bob was inducted into the Environmental Industries Association “Hall of Fame” in 2003; was named a “Professional Achievement Award – Life Member” by the Solid Waste Association of North America in 2009; and served the American Society of Civil Engineers in many capacities, including as Chairman of ASCE’s National Ethics Committee.
Walsh, one of many current SCS leaders for whom Stearns was a mentor, says, “We already miss Bob’s steady guidance and friendship and send our deepest condolences to Gisela, his wife of 50 years, his daughter Maria, his brother Tom, and his extended family. His legacy will live on.”
Private funeral services were in Palm Desert. A memorial service will be held in September; details will be published on http://www.SCSengineers.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Stearns’ favourite charities:
EREF; Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Scholarship Fund
Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild