Richard D. Stehly, a concrete-testing expert who worked on the Metrodome and Target Field, died Sept. 18 at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, a day after he suffered a heart attack while playing hockey with friends. He was 60.
The civil engineer was an early researcher in the 1970s on reusing fly ash in concrete for commercial buildings, and part owner of American Engineering Testing of St. Paul.
"The average person never met him, but they probably live, work or drive on structures he had an impact on," said Kevin MacDonald, president of the Minnesota chapter of the American Concrete Institute. He said Stehly was very skilled at explaining construction complexities in common language, and he did so in televised comments after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse when he noted that the disaster was an isolated incident, not a common problem.
"The way he explained things made even me feel better, and I already knew the information," said MacDonald, a vice president of engineering services for Cemstone, of Mendota Heights. "He was the social face of engineering. We don't have very many in our industry that are good at doing that sort of thing."
Stehly was elected in March as president of the 20,000-plus-member American Concrete Institute and testified at congressional hearings on fly ash disposal in July.
He also lectured for years at local community colleges and spoke for the institute on best concrete practices in several dozen countries. He was part of the U.S. Green Concrete Council.
Stehly's passing "is a tremendous loss for the concrete industry and for anyone who had the privilege of knowing him and working with him," said Ron Burg, the institute's executive vice president, in a news release.
Ed Hunter, project manager for the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, said he met weekly with Stehly, who tested the work and solved construction problems for almost three years as the Twins' new stadium was being built.
"You meet all kinds in the construction business, and he was one of the very best," Hunter said. "Everyone on the Target Field project had the utmost respect for him. He was a very strong mentor for a lot of people."
Stehly, who was divorced and had no children, often took his niece and two nephews on sailing, skiing and car racing outings, said his brother, Mark Stehly, of White Bear Lake.
"He gave of himself a lot more than he took," Mark said.
Stehly also is survived by two other brothers, John and Bob, both of Minneapolis.
Services have been held.