Robert R. Werner

NO. 17426 .  1 Jun 1925 - 6 May2014

Died in Chagrin Falls, Ohio 


ROBERT REHM WERNER, age 88, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, died May 6, 2014, after a brief illness. He was born June 1, 1925 to Minerva (Rehm) and Louis Wolf Werner and grew up in Yonkers, New York. He was their only child. His parents lived frugally on his dad's teaching salary so that the family could travel. By the time he graduated high school he had traveled with his parents to all the states (48 at the time), Canada, Mexico and Europe. He kept this love of travel to the final days of his life. In the last two years he traveled with one or another of his children to France, Italy, Scotland, Egypt, Turkey and Central America. Two months before he died he was zip lining in Honduras.

After graduating high school he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and went to Europe with the 86th Infantry Division and was wounded in combat in Germany. He won an appointment to West Point (signed by General Eisenhower). Graduating in 1950, he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. He married his high school sweetheart, Leila (Wilson) Werner on June 7 at West Point following graduation. He made the Inchon Landing with the 62nd Engineer Construction Batallion in the Korean War, and later served in Japan, Germany/France, Greenland, and Korea again after the Pueblo Incident. In 1964 he was assigned to the Office of Chief of Engineers and returned for a second tour, focusing on water resources and environmental impact in planning. He held a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A & M, was a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas, and was awarded a PhD in Economics from South Dakota State University.

He retired from the Army as a full Colonel in 1973, and wanting to test some of his ideas in civilian life, joined Dalton Dalton Little and Newport, consulting engineers, to head up their Planning and Environmental Systems Group. In 1982 he left Dalton and founded SEMCOR, Inc. a strategy consulting firm, and later SEMCOR, Europe.

Throughout his life he was a good synthesizer, able to bring multiple disciplines and viewpoints to solve problems. Over his many decades he had a continuing interest in engineering, planning, strategy, peace and religion. His book, Designing Strategy: The Art of Scenario Analysis, 2010, reflected his vision and perspective. He was an avid tennis and Bridge player, and achieved Bronze Life Master in Bridge. After his children were grown, he became the patriarch of the family in the best sense of that word. He kept a far-flung family together through summer reunions, daughter winter getaways, guys' golf, holidays and adventures. Everyone willingly came not only because it was great fun, but because the Colonel said so. The interest, love and acceptance he consistently showed to each member of his large extended family made him a role model for all of us.

He is survived by his loving wife, Leila of 63 years; his adoring children, Jacqueline Werner-Gavrin and her husband, Marc, Robert R. Werner, Jr. and his wife, Teri, Mary C. Smith and her husband, Chris and Judith L. Werner and her husband, Dan Borden; and his devoted grandchildren, Anneka, Elizabeth and Ari Werner-Gavrin; Suzanne Werner; Aaron and Kevin Smith; Paul, Garrett and Ryan Nugent. A Memorial Mass will be held at The Church of the Resurrection in Solon, Ohio on Monday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m. A Full Military Honors Funeral will be held at West Point on Tuesday, June 3 at 10:00 a.m. Memorial Gifts may be made to Covenant House, 461 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY, 10001.

Published in The Plain Dealer on May 14, 2014