It is with sad and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our last founding father, Frank DeDecker, on Thursday, September 21, 2017.
Frank was born April 2, 1926, was raised in Detroit, and graduated from De LaSalle High School in 1944. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from 1944 – 1946. Following his discharge from the Navy, Frank enrolled at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) to study engineering. He was a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. At MSC while taking a survey class, he met his wife, Jean, who was a landscape architecture student. In 1949 Frank received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from MSC, married Jean, and began his career at Sugden & Sivier. He later joined a Detroit firm that was designing sewer and water main relocations for the John Lodge Freeway extension, where he worked with Vernon (Vern) Spalding.
In 1954 Frank began a partnership with Vern to form Spalding DeDecker & Associates, a civil and environmental engineering firm, and devoted the remainder of his career to its growth and success. With a verbal agreement, a handshake, and an oath to focus on quality in workmanship and integrity in client service, SD&A was born. Getting its start in a small store front office on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, Spalding DeDecker has grown, and now has over 70 employees providing engineering, surveying, and construction engineering services for municipal, land development, transportation and water/wastewater projects. In 1955, in addition to his work with Spalding DeDecker, Frank was elected and served as trustee for the Village of Warren until 1957. Frank was a member of the American Consulting Engineers Council, the American Water Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors. Frank provided his engineering talent, expertise, leadership, and vision to the firm from 1954 – 1994, when he retired. His final official project was designing the truck exit ramp for the Ambassador Bridge for the Detroit International Bridge Company. In retirement he enjoyed traveling, woodworking, and trading stock and options on the internet.
Throughout his career Frank received many awards recognizing his commitment, leadership, and integrity to the field of civil engineering. Most notably, in 2008 he received the Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Engineering at Michigan State University. Frank was a strong supporter of MSU. He was a life member of the MSU Alumni Association, member of the Hannah Society, and an annual donor to the Agnes McCann Memorial Student Endowment Fund. Frank and Jean also enjoyed many MSU-sponsored travel programs.
Frank is survived by his wife of 68 years, Jean, his nine children, 19 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. His legacy lives on at the firm that bears his name through his children Cathy, John, and Mike and his granddaughter, Beth, who are an integral part of the daily operations of Spalding DeDecker today. They continue to work to uphold that original oath that Frank made to quality and integrity when he founded the company back in 1954. While we mourn the great loss of Frank, we celebrate his life, his contributions to the field of civil engineering, and his personal and professional accomplishments. His spirit and vision remain as we remember the man he was, the company he helped found, and the legacy that he leaves for all who come in contact with Spalding DeDecker.