Ralph Lichliter Jr.
Obituary: Bud Lichliter was key figure in the plumbing industry
- Article by: LARRY OAKES
- Star Tribune
- April 25, 2012 - 7:37 PM
Aspiring plumbers in the Minneapolis area must go through an apprenticeship program that includes five years of classes in the Bud Lichliter Training Center at Dunwoody College of Technology.
Naming the center after Ralph "Bud" Lichliter Jr. was a fitting tribute, leaders in Minnesota's plumbing trade say, because Lichliter devoted many decades of his life to maintaining the state's rigorous plumbing standards and making sure every new plumber understood and practiced them.
Lichliter, of New Hope, who also served as a gunner on 30 bombing missions in World War II, died Sunday at age 89.
He was chief plumbing inspector for Minneapolis for 26 years and an instructor for 59 years for the apprenticeship program run by Plumbers Local 15 at Dunwoody. He also served for many years on the State Plumbing Board, which devises and maintains the state plumbing code and the profession's licensing and training rules.
"I don't think there's a plumber in the state who wasn't influenced by him in some way," said Jack Hettwer, coordinator of Local 15's apprenticeship program, which requires working apprentices to attend classes at Dunwoody two nights a week for five years to be licensed. "He could quote the plumbing code and tell you exactly why various changes to it happened."
Lichliter's son, Greg, said his dad grew up in south Minneapolis, the son and grandson of plumbers. After graduation from Washburn High School in 1941, he served in the Eighth Army Air Force as a top turret gunner on 30 bombing flights from England over France and Germany, for which he was awarded the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross.
He later was recalled into the Air Force to fly bomber training missions between Spokane, Wash., and Alaska during the Korean War.
"He was very proud of his service and often wore his Eighth Air Force patch," Greg Lichliter said. He went to work for the city as a plumbing inspector in 1959 and was chief plumbing inspector from 1962 until his retirement in 1988. In that capacity he helped oversee construction of the Metrodome and Amfac Hotel, his son said.
In 2000, Dunwoody and Local 15 dedicated the new $2.5 million plumbing training center in Lichliter's name and with a bronze plaque of his likeness, calling him a "cornerstone" of the plumbing apprenticeship program.
When he wasn't working, he enjoyed traveling with his family, especially to national parks and Hawaii, and he always maintained a bountiful garden, Greg Lichliter said.
Survivors, in addition to his son, include his wife, Judy, daughter, Kristi, and sister, Joan Hannibal. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Joseph Parish Center in New Hope, with a visitation an hour before the service.
Larry Oakes • 612-269-0504
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