Aurora, CO – September 2, 2010 – Doyle G. Abrahamson, PLS/MS, and Vice President, Surveying for Merrick & Company, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, August 28, 2010, while traveling on business in Florida. He had been with the firm for 31 years and was instrumental in the development and success of Merrick’s surveying practice. He has been a long standing surveying resource in Colorado and was a recognized expert in Colorado survey law.
Abrahamson was a founding member of the Central Colorado Chapter of Professional Land Surveyors (PLS), Colorado, and, during his many years on the organization’s legislative committee, helped to formulate Colorado survey law. He was a past president and life time member of PLS, a former chairman of the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping, and was selected as the 1991 PLS surveyor of the year. Abrahamson was licensed in 15 states and had long-standing working relationships with such companies as Xcel, the Denver Regional Transportation District, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission. He gave back to his profession in many ways, including teaching refresher courses for licensure testing, on behalf of PLS, for over 15 years.
Surveying was Doyle’s passion, both at work and away. Abrahamson and his son, Justin, also a surveyor with Merrick, were part of a team to retrace and re-monument the original base line monuments set in 1859 marking the original dividing line between the Kansas and Nebraska territories in what is now Colorado. Multiple climbs to the Rocky Mountain Continental Divide were required by the team to locate monuments along the 40th parallel on both the east and west sides of the Divide.
Doyle is survived by his wife, Cindy, son Justin, stepsons Paul (Skip), and Matt Davis, his parents Howard and Maude, a sister, Jean Marie, a twin brother, Darrel (& wife Phyllis), and another brother, Tom (& wife Betty), numerous nieces, nephews, relatives, colleagues, and friends.
Funeral services (provided by Nero Funeral Home of Bottineau, ND) will be held on Saturday, September 4, 2010, at 10:00 am, at Peace Lutheran Church in Dunseith, ND. Burial will follow at the Little Prairie Cemetery. A celebration of Doyle’s life will be held at Grace United Methodist Church, 4905 E. Yale Ave., Denver, on Monday, September 13 at 2:00 p.m.
The Legacy He Left
Doyle grew up in North Dakota on his family’s homestead located just south of the Canadian border. He often talked about walking three miles, uphill, to Hilltop School, a one-room schoolhouse serving the area’s educational needs. In 1970, he earned a degree in Civil Engineering Technology from Lake Region Junior College in Devils Lake, North Dakota. His later education included the U.S. Army, land surveying; the University of Arizona Advanced Cadastral Survey (instructor/student); and Metropolitan State College of Denver, Advanced Cadastral Survey (instructor/student). Doyle’s greatest education came from his daily involvement in the projects on which he worked and the clients with whom he interacted.
In 1979, Bruce Walker, Merrick’s prior CEO, hired Doyle to head up Merrick’s survey department. It wasn’t long before Doyle put systems in place to gradually make the survey department a well-functioning, profitable part of Merrick’s business. Eventually, Merrick was involved in a considerable number of land development projects and REA Company transmission line surveying and engineering and Doyle had 15 survey crews along with office staff.
Ed Lecuyer, Merrick’s co-founder, recalls Doyle’s first assignment was to get registered in Texas to provide oversight on some projects there. Mr. Lecuyer said, “Doyle was always there to tackle the great surveying challenges and he did it successfully and professionally.”
Roger Nelson, PLS, a 16-year veteran of Merrick, distinctly remembers Doyle as the consummate mentor and professional. “A knowing grin would appear on Doyle’s face when an opportunity arose to teach a fellow surveyor. Too often I was on the receiving end of that knowing grin early on in my career at Merrick,” said Roger. Doyle would begin, “Mr. PLS, how would you handle the situation?” Then, Roger would eagerly respond as Doyle smiled and led him down the path of learning by asking probing questions regarding the foundation of his quick answer. According to Roger, this was Doyle’s way to develop sound decision making abilities.
Over the years, Roger witnessed this same instructional dance with younger surveyors. Doyle quietly taught many lessons to surveyors over the years without expectation of anything in return but knowing that he had advanced another surveyor’s knowledge. Roger said, “Doyle always gave selflessly of his time to others that sought his professional opinion and advice.”
According to Ralph W. Christie, Jr., PE, chairman, president, and CEO of Merrick, “I personally have received many compliments from Merrick clients about Doyle’s professionalism and reliability. They knew when Doyle did something, it was done right.”
Over time, Doyle said he saw the biggest change in the industry in technology. When he first started, the survey department had an Olivetti 101 computer that couldn’t handle state plane coordinates. He commented, “We still thought we had the world by the tail, because before that, we had trig (trigonometry) tables.”
Doyle took on demanding personal challenges with the same passion as he took on projects at Merrick. On August 19, 2005, Doyle climbed Longs Peak in spite of his life time of diabetes, earlier knee damage, and vertigo. Longs Peak, which is in view of Doyle’s home in Estes Park, rises to 14,259 feet above sea level. Doyle had said, “In years to come when I have a hard time just getting into my recliner chair, I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that Grandpa climbed that mountain.”
In 2006, Doyle and his son Justin were part of a team who made multiple climbs in the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains to retrace and re-monument the original base line dividing the Kansas and Nebraska territories in what is now Colorado. They made preliminary climbs to locate monuments along the 40th parallel on both the east and west sides of the divide. Locating these monuments was an effort to find the “Summit of the Rockies” cross set in 1859, which was placed there by the original surveyors. In the article, “The Path to the Proper Summit of the Rockies,” in the July 2007 issue of The American Surveyor, John B. Guyton, LS, said of this venture in which Doyle participated, “Once in a lifetime an opportunity may present itself to retrace the footsteps of the original surveyors of a line so significant that it shaped the course of our country’s growth.” Doyle was proud to be a part of that adventure. Other American Surveyor articles in which Doyle appeared include Jerry Penry’s "Rocky Mountain High" and Guyton’s "A Line Runs Through It."
By 2010, Doyle had spent 39 years in professional surveying. He was a recognized expert in Colorado survey law and, quite often, served as an expert witness. He was licensed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. His other accomplishments include:
• U.S. Mineral Surveyor, US Department of the Interio
• Past President & Life Member of the Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado
• Member of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping
• Member of the International Right-of-Way Association
• Professional Surveyor of the Year, Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado, 1991
• Legislative Committee & Past Committee Chairman, Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado
• Advisory Committee, Westwood School of Technology