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Published: Monday, 6/4/2001

Civil engineer was veteran of WW II, skiing enthusiast

LAMBERTVILLE - Richard B. Lennex, a civil engineer with a Toledo firm who oversaw sewer construction projects throughout the region, died Saturday in his Stockport Street home. He was 77.

Mr. Lennex's death ended a 31/2-year battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, relatives said.

Mr. Lennex worked 38 years with Finkbeiner, Pettis & Strout starting in 1952. He became a partner in the firm in 1970 and thereafter headed its construction division. After retiring in late 1989, he was a part-time consultant until shortly before his death, and continued teaching an adult education course in public works construction at the University of Toledo.

A Toledo native, Mr. Lennex was an Eagle Scout with Troop 24 in West Toledo and graduated from DeVilbiss High School in 1942. Drafted into the U.S. Army after graduation, he served in the Signal Corps in Europe during World War II and was discharged in December, 1945, as a sergeant.

He studied engineering at the University of Toledo, receiving his civil engineering degree in 1949. His career at Finkbeiner, Pettis & Strout followed a three-year stint with what then was the Ohio Department of Highways.

“I went into engineering because I always liked math,” Mr. Lennex was quoted as saying in a retirement article published in the Finkbeiner, Pettis & Strout employee newsletter in 1989. He forsook electrical engineering for civil engineering because the latter involved surveying and construction.

A son, Steven Lennex, said his father liked being outdoors too, which steered his career toward field inspections of projects that his firm had designed.

“He loved being outdoors, being with the guys and being involved in the nuts and bolts of putting the projects together,” the younger Mr. Lennex said.

As a commercial real estate agent, the son said he has met people from construction companies whose work his father inspected, and who respected Mr. Lennex's thoroughness.

“He made them do it right, or he made them do it over,” Steven Lennex said.

“He was always very devoted and dedicated to the profession,” said Philip Covell, the second vice president and regional manager for Finkbeiner, Pettis & Strout, who added that Mr. Lennex was a good mentor for younger engineers at the firm.

Mr. Lennex considered his greatest career accomplishment the completion of the sewer system around Devil's and Round lakes in Lenawee County. The project ended the dumping of raw sewage into the lakes and preserved them as resort areas.

His leisure-time passion was skiing, for which he traveled frequently to northern Michigan and the Rocky Mountains. Steven Lennex said his father's ashes will be scattered on a ski run at a Colorado resort.

At his home in Bedford Township's Green Hills subdivision, Mr. Lennex was one of the original subdivision trustees and helped with planning and construction of the swimming pool there. Relatives said he later was instrumental in persuading the Ohio Amateur Athletic Union to allow swimmers from Erie, Bedford, and Whiteford townships to compete in Ohio.

Mr. Lennex was a member of St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Temperance for more than 40 years, serving on numerous committees and as church council president, usher, greeter, and sacramental minister. He assisted in planning and building the church, an addition, and a bell tower.

Mr. Lennex is survived by his wife of nearly 53 years, the former Norma Jean Henry; sons, David, Steven, and Joseph; daughter, Deborah Lennex; sister, Joan Torrence, and five granddaughters.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today at Boyer-VanWormer-Scott Funeral Home, 5055 Secor Rd. A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow in St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Temperance.

The family requests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or St. Luke's building fund.



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