Paul Albert Rechard of Laramie died on February 4, 2019 at the age of 91, surrounded by his family. Paul was born in Laramie on June 4, 1927 to Ottis Howard and Mary Rebecca Bird Rechard.
Paul graduated from high school in 1943 and attended two years at the University of Wyoming before he enlisted in the Navy at age 17 to train as a radio operator. After his discharge in April 1946, he continued at UW and graduated with a BS in 1948 and MS in 1949 in Civil Engineering. His thesis dealt with irrigation practices, a topic that had intrigued him since he started working at the UW dairy farm at age 11 and Encampment valley ranches at age 13. While attending college, he belonged to Sigma Nu Fraternity, and later was on the fraternity house board.
Paul's first job was with the Bureau of Reclamation conducting river operation studies, flood studies, and resource projects on tributaries of the upper Missouri River. In 1954, he became Director of Wyoming`s Natural Resource Board and Interstate Stream Commissioner. During this period, Paul, along with western states, sought Congressional authorization of the Glen Canyon and Flaming Gorge dams. This work led to a move to the Upper Colorado River Commission in Salt Lake City in 1958.
In 1964, Paul returned to UW as a full professor and established the Water Resources Research Institute. He was its Director, taught hydrology, and established an interdisciplinary degree program in water resources. He also developed the Wyoming snow shield to more consistently measure snow precipitation. The shield has been adopted world-wide. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1982 and began working full-time as President of WWC Engineering, a company he co-founded one year earlier. When he retired in 2001, the company employed ~100 people and consulted on a wide range of projects from permitting of coal mines and environmental cleanup issues to municipal water and highway design.
Paul was a Fellow of American Society of Civil Engineers and greatly enjoyed the comradery of the Wyoming Engineering Society. For many years, Paul organized a bus for engineers wishing to attend the annual convention to facilitate this comradery. Paul was Tau Beta Phi’s Eminent Engineer in 1993, selected as UW Outstanding Alumnus in 1998, and inducted into the UW Engineering Hall of Fame in 2010.
Paul enjoyed ranching activities, and shortly after his discharge from the Navy enthusiastically helped a rancher remove a bear by roping him while riding on the bumper of a truck. He was a life-long fly fisherman, along with his father and older brother, Ottis William (UW `43). His love of the outdoors and water resources was nurtured in the Snowy Range where his parents lived on the North Fork of the Laramie River every summer while growing up.
Paul started skiing in sixth grade and became an avid skier. He was on UW’s first ski team in 1947. He taught his future wife, Mary Lou Roper (UW`49), to ski while they were dating. After they graduated, Paul married Mary Lou in Casper on June 26, 1949.
After returning to Laramie in 1964, he was active in Lions Club and the Presbyterian Church as Elder and choir member. Paul enjoyed rooting for the Cowboys and Cowgirls and his infectious smile could be seen at most games (including Cowgirl/Boise State game a week before he passed). He had watched athletic events with his parents as a boy and had season tickets ever since he returned to Laramie. Paul was also a life-long Mason. After retirement, Paul enjoyed serving on boards including the Ivinson Hospital Foundation, Laramie Monolith Ranch, and Territorial Park.
Survivors include son Rob Paul Rechard of Albuquerque, his wife Patricia, their daughter, Kara, and their son, Kyle; and daughter Karen Ann Davis of Gillette, her husband Mike, their two sons, Ryan and Danny. Paul dearly loved motoring around Wyoming and cruising around Europe with his four grandchildren.
In memory of his wife, Paul established the Mary Lou Alumni Scholarship and the Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Civil Engineering for Water Resources. With his brother, he established the Ottis Howard Rechard Award in Mathematics, to honor their father, Dean of the College of Arts and Science between 1945 and 1961. Please consider giving to these scholarships at the UW Foundation in Paul’s name.
The life and resurrection of Paul will be celebrated on Friday, March 8th at 11 at the Laramie United Presbyterian Church. Montgomery-Stryker is in charge of funeral arrangements.