Gordon Ray, civil engineer with Portland Cement Association, dies

News Chicago Tribune January 23, 2006
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Gordon Ray of Arlington Heights, Ill., was an expert in concrete road and runway design, and co-write one of the first technical manuals for designing concrete pavements. He was a professor, lecturer and consultant to both U.S. and international highway authorities on concrete pavement technology. He also promoted concrete construction during the postwar boom, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“He would talk passionately about concrete paving to anyone at any time, whether it was at a lecture or in a social setting,” said George Barney, senior vice president of the Portland Cement Association.

Mr. Ray died of complications from pneumonia Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the age of 86.

Mr. Ray grew up Diamond Lake, Ill., and graduated from Libertyville High School in 1937. He was a member of the ROTC in college, and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

After graduation, Mr. Ray served in the Army Corps of Engineers and was sent to Hawaii. For the next three-and-a-half years, Mr. Ray helped build supply roads and bridges through the rough terrain of Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Mr. Ray returned to Illinois and married his wife, Betty Gridley, in 1944.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Ray had spent his entire civilian career with the Portland Cement Association, in the paving and transportation department, and then later in the public works division.

Mr. Ray co-wrote the “Pickett & Ray Influence Charts,” which offered new pavement design guidelines. He also conducted pavement surveys and research on streets and roads across the Midwest. According to the Portland Cement Association, the tests proved concrete to be superior to asphalt.

Mr. Ray toured highway departments across the country, as well as international departments to promote the use of concrete in bridges, railroad ties and military and commercial airport runways. He also taught courses in pavement design and construction at Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin.

In 1984, Mr. Ray retired from the Portland Cement Association after 38 years. He continued to work as a consultant for the association, lectured and taught courses about concrete.

Mr. Ray was a fellow with the American Society of Civil Engineers and participated in the National Research Council’s Highway Research Board for more than 30 years, the Tribune reported. He was honored with several professional awards, including the American Concrete Pavement Association’s H.W. Hartman Outstanding Achievement Award.

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