To the servicemen and servicewomen in the Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland District, he was “The Colonel.” To a smaller group, he was “Grandpa Bob.” To all of us at Dawson & Associates, he was a trusted friend and advisor.
Colonel Robert Friedenwald, a senior advisor here for more than 10 years, passed away last week. He was 78.
A graduate of the University of Colorado, Bob served in the Army Corps of Engineers for more than 27 years, retiring as a full colonel in 1985. One of his crowning achievements was his assignment as District Engineer in charge of the Portland District, overseeing, among other things, the cleanup of Mount St. Helens after the 1980 eruption.
Bob’s efforts to expedite the mountain’s recovery earned him a Legion of Merit from the Army as well as commendation from the State of Washington.
He also served as Executive Director of the Civil Works Directorate in the Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Other assignments included the Far East and Europe.
After retirement, Bob joined Dawson & Associates and served our clients with high distinction. With Bob, you always knew that no matter how vexing the problem, he would figure out a solution.
Bob’s “can-do” attitude was legendary, although as Colonel (Ret) Terry Connell, a longtime friend, recalls in this humorous anecdote, sometimes Bob had more energy than he probably needed:
“About three months after assuming command of Portland District, Bob and the Chief of Operations were visiting field projects in Central Oregon on a hot summer day. In a remote area, they came upon a small fire about 100 feet off the highway, a potentially frightening thing in that area. Stopping the car they sought with their limited materials to extinguish the fire. This included running back and forth with a construction helmet from the roadside ditch where there was a smattering of water.
“The effort took some time and caused both men to start sweating profusely.
“After putting out the fire, they congratulated each other and departed. About a quarter of a mile down the curved road, they spotted another fire and farther down the highway, yet another blaze.
“Only then did they realize the fires were intentionally set by Oregon highway officials as controlled burns to clear this portion of highway from possible damaging forest fires.”
The memorial service will be Sunday, August 11, 2 PM at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the Robert Friedenwald Memorial Fund at the Confluence Project, 1610 C Street, #203, Vancouver WA 98663.
Robert K. Dawson Founder