1986 ASCE President Bay dies at 94

Robert D. “Bob” Bay, former principal of Black and Veatch and ASCE president in 1986, has died. He was 94.

A decorated soldier and consummate engineer, he was an icon in his home state of Missouri. When the Corps of Engineers constructed the Chain of Rocks Lock and Canal in St. Louis, the largest twin locks in the world at the time, Bay, on his first professional assignment, was involved from start to completion.


Bay, Ph.D., P.E., Pres.86.ASCE, was a World War II U.S. Army veteran in the Pacific theatre, and rose to major general of the Corps of Engineers in the Army Reserve. He earned his Ph.D. from Missouri University of Science and Technology and had a storied career with Laclede Steel before joining Black and Veatch.

“Bob was in the first class of our Academy of Civil Engineering at S&T and the first president, and he had career accolades far too numerous to recount,” said Joel Burken, Curators’ Distinguished Professor & Chair in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department at the university.

Bay, a Life Member of ASCE and Society president for 1986, championed a program of “Commitment to Excellence” for his presidency.

Bay’s working connection to his alma mater spanned six decades and two name changes from the original Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, staying relevant to the department and to the MSM/UMR/S&T campus. He was awarded the S&T Chancellor’s medal.

At Laclede Steel, he started as product development manager, and later became Principal and Director of Technical Services, responsible for all research, product design and development, quality control, the metallurgical and chemical departments, and customer service. Here too, he was jointly responsible for a number of patented technologies, including the design and implementation of the composite floor joist system for the World Trade Center.

Bay worked at Black and Veatch as engineering manager for the Environmental Division and Director of Development and steered the completion of hundreds of projects annually. He oversaw designs for major water and wastewater facilities nationally and in Cairo, Egypt. He also led in the nationwide effort to restore public confidence in engineering after the 1981 Hyatt Regency disaster in Kansas City.

During the war, he was progressively assigned from construction engineer to chief office engineer, with responsibility for construction supervision, field surveys, and contract negotiations. Bay also received the Distinguished Service Medal, the second highest military honor. 

In St. Louis in 1952, he was jointly responsible for the patented design of the 11-million-gallon-capacity Clear Water Basin at the Chain of Rocks Plant, a revised pumping station, and upgrading other supporting treatment facilities.

Over the last 25 years, he was active with his church, where he served as a deacon, president of the men’s brotherhood, and in mission work to Ecuador, Romania, and Kenya.


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