US Army Maj. Gen. Merdith W.B. “Bo” Temple, a retired Corps of Engineers deputy chief, who led its major transformation to tackle an estimated $73-billion global military building expansion begun more than a decade ago, died on Nov. 1 in Richmond, Va., after 13 years of battling cancer, said an online obituary confirmed by industry sources. He was 67.
Temple was "a relentless, positive driving force against a really bureaucratic system and inertia,” retired Army Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin told ENR in a 2010 story relating Temple’s key role in execution of the Defense Dept.’s MILCON Transformation program. The goal was to push efficiency in military design and construction as it launched a multiyear period of major facility expansion and modernization in the U.S. and abroad.
Temple improved project time-to-completion by 30% while reducing costs by 15%, and expanded the Corps industry partnerships programs “in ways that allowed the Army to leverage commercial standards and construction techniques,” according to one biography. For that work, Temple was named an ENR Newsmaker in 2010.
Formerly acting chief of engineers and Corps commanding general, Temple also managed Corps civil works, where he had oversight of the $14-billion post-Hurricane Katrina construction program in New Orleans and vicinity as well as $4.2 billion in Corps construction under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He also had commanded the Corps North Atlantic division and served in Iraq.
Related to Katrina lessons learned, Temple said “disaster amnesia everywhere across our country,” which “needs to be tempered with reality. We can’t change the culture, but we can change how people and politicians think about these issues.”
Temple joined Dawson & Associates, a Washington policy consulting firm after retiring from the Army in 2013 with 37 years of service. He also had been a board director of design firm Dewberry since 2013.
One online tribute said Temple’s “determined leadership was enhanced by his quiet manner, ready smile and supportive disposition, which stirred in those he commanded a sense of ‘I must do better.’”
He received an OPAL Award for lifetime achievement in government from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2010 and the U. S. Army Engineer Association's 2014 Gold Order of the de Fleury Medal for contributions that “exemplify boldness, courage and commitment to a strong national defense.” He also was a member of the National Academy of Construction.
Temple was a civil engineering B.S. graduate of Virginia Military Institute and M.S. graduate of Texas A&M Uni=versity.