On a lark (or paying tribute to a stranger)

I purchased a slightly worn copy of The Heart of Our Cities by Victor Gruen from Amazon. The book shipped from Mt. Pleasant and was from the library of Ralph J. Stephenson. It was signed, stamped (twice) and sealed (raised seal) by its owner.

I was curious whether or not the owner had a web trace and did a quick search. It turns out that Ralph J. Stephenson had a sizable imprint. He was a veteran of World War II and a well-known structural engineer. He was inducted into the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame posthumously at Ferris State University in 2006.

Known to many as “Mr. Construction,” Ralph J. Stephenson, P.E., amassed a long list of achievements during his 50 plus years in the construction and engineering industries. Working at several companies before opening his own consulting practice in 1962, Stephenson worked on many projects, including Burdick Street Mall in Kalamazoo, one of the first downtown malls in North America, and Northland and Eastland shopping centers, among the first regional shopping centers in the world. He pioneered most of the techniques used in the Critical Path Method, co-authoring the book Critical Path Method. He also wrote more than 100 papers on construction management, and his last book, Project Partnering for the Design and Construction Industry, is still on bookstore shelves today.

Two other notes…Ralph J. Stephenson was married for 58 years. The book, The Heart of Our Cities, was dedicated by Victor Gruen to his wife.

To Lazette
Whose sudden death, in July 1962, robbed me not only of a beloved and most wonderful wife but also one who gave inspiration to all my work, including this book.

Your book will be well-cared for Mr. Stephenson until it’s my turn share it.

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