DC Association of Land Surveyors Founding President Lewis E. Lantz Passes

DCALS founding president is gone – the former Surveyor of Washington, Lew Lantz.

He died Tuesday July 31, 2012 – less than six months after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Lew was operated on this past March at GW University Hospital, after which doctors held out ‘guarded’ hopes — and for a while thereafter he progressed nicely. Following his operation, he spent a couple weeks recuperating at a care facility in Bethesda, then went home hoping for full recovery. But as more months passed, his condition slowly worsened.

Lew Lantz was a West Virginia native – born November 23, 1936 at Hastings, Wetzel County – but the family moved to Hagerstown when Lew was one. His father was an electrical engineer for Potomac Edison – and Lew, later as a teenager, worked summers as a pole lineman. After graduating high school in ’54, Lew served 4-years in the US Army, with a Recon squadron of the famed 7th Cavalry.

Lew Lantz joined the District of Columbia government in June 1962, as an entry-level engineering-tech in the Bridge Construction Division, working under Wil Compton and Ralph B. Sheaffer at the old DC Department of Highways & Traffic – DCH&T. Lew worked out in the field, on bridge construction projects all over the city.

One day in ’63, after about 18-months on the job, Lew was balancing precariously on a bridge girder high along the Potomac River, when a woman in a building nearby flung open her window and screamed out that John F. Kennedy had been shot! Every person alive that day remembers where they were, and what they were doing at that moment. Lew Lantz remembered that he very nearly went in the river.

Lew worked his way through college . . . 5-days a week doing bridge construction for DC, but nights and weekends spent at University of Maryland. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering, Class of ’67 — then went on to earn a second degree, in Business Administration, in 1976.

It was Wil Compton who brought Lew Lantz in from field construction, choosing him in 1969 as assistant chief of DCH&T’s Right-of-Way Engineering Branch — and when Compton left to become DC Surveyor in ’73, Lew was promoted to Branch Chief. By 1982, Lew was Chief of the Contract Engineering Branch, taking over when Ralph Sheaffer, like Compton before him, went on to become Surveyor of Washington. Lew stayed with DCH&T throughout its reorganization into part of DCDPW in 1984, then left in ’86 for the "greener pastures and fresher air" of the District’s Waste-Water Treatment Plant at Blue Plains.

Lew Lantz served as a contracting officer at DC-WASUA from 1986 to 1993 — writing specifications, making recommendations and preparing contracts for bids. One of his many projects was the proposal for DC-WASUA to become an entirely separate, independent authority.

In April ’93, Lew followed the path of his two former DCH&T bosses, Wil Compton and Ralph Sheaffer, over to the Office of the DC Surveyor. He was appointed by the Mayor as official Surveyor of the District of Columbia, and served in that capacity, as head of the DC Surveyors Office, until his retirement in August 1997. All told, Lew Lantz worked 36-years for the DC government.

Some time after his retirement, in early 2001, when a handful of Washington land surveyors began attempting to form a professional organization, Lew was asked if he would consider leading a new ‘start-up’ DC Surveyors Society. Honored, he accepted. That organization became DCALS – the District of Columbia Association of Land Surveyors – founded September 6, 2001 at Union Station in Washington DC . . . with Lewis E. Lantz III as first president.

DCALS officers who served with him in that period say a better choice could not have been made. He guided the organization with commendable skill throughout its founding year, establishing precedents for how things should be done, and left the society in fine condition for his successors. Many of DCALS’ early Board meetings were held at his home in Wheaton . . . and ‘envelope-stuffing’ of the society’s mailings took place on his dining room table.

After his term as president ended, Lew and his wife Judy were regular attendees at quarterly DCALS dinners. But the society’s Tenth Anniversary celebration, almost a year ago this past September, turned out to be the final DCALS get-together for Lew Lantz. Not long afterwards, his illness was discovered.

Although a few original Charter Members are gone, Lew is the first DCALS past-president to be lost. He was also a member of the DC Highway Alumni Association.

The family is welcoming friends, relatives, acquaintances and former co-workers this Friday, August 10 at Collins Funeral Home, # 500 University Boulevard West, in Wheaton, from 3-5 and 7-9 pm. The funeral service of Lewis E. Lantz III will be held Saturday afternoon, at 1:00 pm.

Below is a link to Lew’s death notice, published this past Sunday, August 5 in the Washington Post.


Lewis E. "Bud" Lantz, III, 1936 – 2012 (Age 75) 
On Tuesday, July 31, 2012, Silver Spring, MD. Beloved husband for 35 years of Judy Reinhart Lantz; father of Paige Houston, Centreville, VA and Gregory Caswell, Manassas, VA; brother of Edwina Lantz Carlson, Vienna, VA and Samuel Lantz, Columbus, OH; grandfather of Taylor Jane Houston. Bud is also survived by other loving family and friends. Relatives and friends may call at Collins Funeral Home, 500 University Boulevard, West, Silver Spring, MD, (Valet Parking), Friday, August 10, 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. and again on Saturday, August 11 at 1 p.m. for the funeral service. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial gift checks payable to the "Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering" and mail to: Gift Acceptance; Riggs Alumni Center, Fourth Floor; University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.