The National Academy of Construction lost its second member with the death of Carroll Hilton Dunn on 31 January 2003 at the age of 86 years. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on 6 March 2003.
Along with literally hundreds of others, I feel Carroll’s loss deeply. We first met in 1974 when we served together on a committee for the AGC Education and Research Foundation. He went to extra efforts to bring Letha to Washington so I could meet her. Since that time, we have had a continuous professional and personal relationship for almost 30 years. That relationship has included Shirley and Letha, who have many mutual interests; thus, our families have corresponded and visited on a regular basis.
Carroll, a native of Arkansas, began his military career upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Illinois in 1938. He and Letha Jontz married shortly thereafter and lived in Laredo, Texas, until 1941. It was in Laredo where they became friends with Roy and Gwynne Dodge. Carroll wrote the NAC Memoriam for Roy in December 2002.
Carroll’s military career was one of rapid advancement. He became an Engineer Combat Battalion Commander and served with the 30th Infantry Division in WWII, landing at Omaha Beach and participating in the final drive into Germany. He was wounded by an enemy mine during this period, but after two months in a hospital in England, rejoined his unit. Carroll’s “Memoirs,” which were written by the historian for the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Engineers, provide fascinating stories of many engineering innovations during the European invasion.
His military career involved an increasing number of assignments, both domestic and overseas in such locations as Japan, Greenland, Korea, and Vietnam. He authored a book describing the construction and logistics support for the U.S. and Free World Force in Vietnam. His assignments also included Director of Titan II Missile System Construction, Director of the U.S. Army Waterways Experiment Station, and Division Engineer of the Southwestern Engineer Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where construction of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was under his supervision, along with many other major projects. At one time, Carroll was responsible for military construction within the Army, the Air Force, NASA, and other government agencies, as well as the Army Nuclear Power Program and specialized fallout shelter engineering support for civil defense.
Carroll’s final assignments in the Army were as Deputy Chief of Engineers, Director of Defense Nuclear Agency, and Chairman of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. He retired from military service as Lieutenant General in September 1973 after a remarkable 35-year career.
Carroll Dunn always had an allegiance to higher education. Although his baccalaureate degree was in mechanical engineering, he received a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1947 from Iowa State University. He was later approached by Iowa State to accept the Dean of Engineering position, but after careful consideration reluctantly declined. The University of Texas at Austin established the Carroll H. Dunn Endowed Graduate Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of Carroll’s higher education contributions.
His military retirement in 1973 launched Carroll and Letha into three new careers. He joined Consolidated Edison Company of New York in 1973 and served as senior vice president for construction, engineering, and environmental affairs until 1981. He directed the Business Roundtable’s Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness (CICE) Project, a major contribution to improving our industry, until 1988. As a result of his earlier experience and CICE activities, he helped to establish and guide the development of the Construction Industry Institute, which has named its most prestigious recognition as the Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence. He was the first recipient of the award in 1985.
As might be expected with such an illustrious career, Carroll Dunn received many other awards. His number of military awards is lengthy and is perhaps best summarized by the “Chief of Engineers Award for Outstanding Public Service,” which was given 20 years after his retirement. He was elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Construction. He held prominent positions in church and civic organizations, including president of the Board of Governors of Pinehurst Country Club, the home of the Golf Hall of Fame.
Carroll would probably cite his family and personal friendships as his most significant accomplishments. He and Letha worked as a close team for 63 years and their marriage produced two children, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Carolyn Dunn Dean has three children (Robert, Mike, and Brian). Stretch (Carroll H. Dunn, Jr.), who followed in his dad’s footsteps, lives in Birmingham, AL, and has two children (Steve and Cheryl). Carroll and Letha doted on their family to the extent that the personalized license plate on their car was composed of their grandchildren’s initials. They could quote their grades and ACT scores. They never missed family events and drove cross-country several times to see their grandson play professional baseball.
Much has been said about the lasting benefits that our Nation has received from the Greatest Generation, and Carroll was the epitome of that Generation. The many titles and awards that he received were the natural result of a man driven by love of God, love of family, and love of Country. He will be missed personally by family and friends. His integrity and principles will be missed by the nation.