Richard S. Holmgren, who led the firm that was a key corporate precursor of engineering giant MWH Global, Broomfield, Colo., died on Oct. 31 in Santa Ana, Calif., at age 84.

Holmgren, an MIT-educated civil engineer, joined James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers Inc. (JMM) in 1958 as a sluice-gate designer on a California water treatment plant and went on to serve as its chief operating officer, president, CEO and chairman, retiring in 1993.

While he was CEO in the late 1980s, the firm passed the $100-million mark in revenue.

JMM merged with U.K.-based Watson Hawksley in 1993 and then with Harza Engineers, Chicago, in 2001 to form MWH.

MWH Executive Chairman Robert Uhler says that, as COO, Holmgren was "instrumental" in implementing a new employee stock ownership program two years ahead of schedule that kept many younger staff members at the firm.