Joseph A. “Bud” Ahearn, 81—who headed major military building programs as a U.S. Air Force major general, was vice chairman of design-builder CH2M and was a founding sponsor of global pro bono building group Engineers Without Borders, which now has 19,000 volunteers—died July 11 in Greenwood Village, Colo., of natural causes.
A University of Notre Dame engineering graduate with 34 years of military service, he managed major global base construction and operation and helped develop the service’s first environmental compliance programs.
According to one biography, Ahearn’s management of the recovery of remains of 240 U.S. Marines killed in the 1983 barracks bombing in Lebanon is credited as a template for the military’s handling of mass casualties in later combat operations.
Joining CH2M in 1992, he was transportation business group president and managed firm work on the $11-billion DOD base relocation in South Korea. Jacobs acquired the firm in 2017, five years after Ahearn’s final retirement.
A former national president of the Society of American Military Engineers, Ahearn also was a National Academy of Construction inductee and American Institute of Architects honorary member, among numerous industry recognitions.
“I’ve been a long-standing proponent of studying the art and science of leadership,” Ahearn said in a Notre Dame interview, noting that strength in engagement, influence and teamwork “are every bit as significant over the lifespan as any technical skill you might pick up.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Eugene Lupia, a former Air Force and CH2M colleague, said Ahearn “was leading and mentoring up to his last day.”
Donations in memory of Gen. Ahearn can be made to either Engineers Without Borders USA or Notre Dame Engineers Grand Challenge Scholarship Program contact. Please state the contribution is in memory of Major General Joseph A. Ahearn, USAF (retired)
Family correspondence can be sent to:
The Ahearn Family
C/O Dave Bird
309 Quito Place
Castle Rock CO 80108