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Wegner, Waldo W. 

Two entries for Waldo Wegner with two separate authors.

Published onNov 08, 2021
Wegner, Waldo W. 

(January 17, 1913 - June 2, 2001)

Quick Facts

Wegner was a prominent student-athlete and, later, administrator at Iowa State University where he developed and led the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS).


Entry #1 authored by David Holmgren

Waldo Wilbert Wegner was born on January 17, 1913 at Everly, Iowa, a son of Ernest F. Wegner and Amanda C. Thiessen Wegner.   He grew up in Everly, graduated from high school there, grew to be 6” 4” tall, and weighed 200 pounds.  He developed an interest in basketball early in life, but his high school had no formal basketball team. 

He entered Iowa State in 1931 and majored in civil engineering.  He tried out for both baseball and basketball and made both teams although he could not play during his freshman year.  He began playing in 1931 and in 1934 became Iowa State's first basketball All-American player.  In 1935, his senior year, Wegner was co-leader of the team which won the Big Six basketball title with a 13-3 season record.  Wegner compiled a team-high 10.6 points per game average.  His greatest contribution was in the Oklahoma game in which he tied the game at the end of regular play and then scored six of the nine points in overtime that led Iowa State to victory and the conference championship.  He lettered in both basketball and baseball that year.

While at Iowa State, Wegner was also involved in other campus activities, including Cardinal Guild, Cardinal Key (men's honorary), Tau Beta Pi (engineering honorary), Chi Epsilon (civil engineering honorary), Knights of St. Patrick, Athletic Council, Engineers Council, Varsity “I” Club, was treasurer of his fraternity, Sigma Pi, and was chosen to be a life member of the Memorial Union.  In addition, he worked in the Ames City Manager's Office to help finance his education.  He graduated from Iowa State in 1935 with a B. S. degree in civil engineering. 

After graduation, he attended the University of Chicago for a year and took courses in budgeting, operation, and administration of public utilities in conjunction with an apprenticeship with the American Public Works Administration.  He then began a career in engineering and administration in Iowa, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C.  He worked several jobs for the Works Project Administration in 1936-1937, was Assistant City Engineer in Cedar Falls, Iowa from 1937-1941 and Assistant City Manager of Mason City, Iowa from 1941-1942.  During this time, he married Harriet Genevieve Olson at Sac City, Iowa on July 5, 1938, and they had a daughter, Ann. 

World War II interrupted Wegner's career for several years.  He joined the United States Navy in September, 1942, entered as an ensign in the Civil Engineer Corps, served abroad from December, 1942 to April, 1944, and was discharged in December, 1945 with the rank of lieutenant.  He also served in the Naval Reserve for 37 years and retired with the rank of captain.

After returning from the service, Wegner resumed his engineering career.  He  returned to Mason City and served as City Manager from 1945 to 1948, then as City Engineer and City Manager in Chariton, Iowa from 1948 to 1949.  Following that, he worked in private industry for Loomis Brothers, Inc. as Civil Engineer and Vice-President from 1956 to 1961 and for both the Missouri Valley Ready-Mix Company and the Johnson Ready-Mix Company of Omaha, Nebraska from January to August,  1962 as Chief Engineer and General Manager.  Wegner then returned to the public sector working as the Director of Public Works and Village Engineer for the Village of Edina, Minnesota from 1962 to 1963.

In October, 1963, Wegner returned to Iowa State almost thirty years after his student and basketball career there.  He was appointed Director of the newly organized Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) which was formed to assist owners and managers of Iowa industrial firms in their decision making processes.  Wegner established working relationships with Iowa groups and agencies such as the Consulting Engineers Council, the Iowa Engineering Society, the Iowa Development Commission, and the Small Business Administration.  He organized a series of conferences for processors of plastics, processors of frozen food, and coal users.  He also established continuing education for owners and managers of mid-sized firms on topics such as finance, production, marketing, management, product liability, mini computers, and money management.  He produced a slide program on interesting industries of Iowa which he presented to thousands of people.  He also moderated a series of 13 television programs entitled Business and Industry Speak, which was broadcast on three television stations in Iowa. 

Wegner was active in many other professional activities as a Registered Engineer in both Iowa and Minnesota, member and president of the Iowa Engineering Society, vice president of the National Society of Professional Engineers, vice chairman of the Iowa District Export Council, both vice chair and chair of Mid-Continent Research and Development Council and director of the National University Extension Association (NUEA.)  In addition, he was a member of the Small Business Administration Council for Iowa, the World Trade Council of Iowa, and the Alumni Association Executive Committee at Iowa State.

Wegner won a number of honors and awards over the years.  At Iowa State, he was named Outstanding Alumnus in 1956, was recipient of the Anson Marston Award in 1964,  and recipient of the Superior Service Award by the ISU Alumni Association in 1978.  He was given the Past Presidents Award by the Cedar Rapids Engineers Club in 1959.  He was named a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1975 and Iowan of the Month by Business and Industry Magazine in December, 1976.  In addition, he was listed in Who's Who in the Midwest that year.  He won the Advancing the Profession Award by the NUEA in 1978.  He also won a number of awards connected to the various businesses he had worked in and by communities where he had lived.

Wegner retired as director of CIRAS in 1978 but continued living in Ames.  His wife, Harriett, died in 1978, and he married Catherine Isabelle Muller in Bettendorf, Iowa on May 19, 1979.  In 1992, they designated a sizable part of their estate for a professorship in Civil Engineering plus two scholarships. 

Waldo Wilbert Wegner died in Ames on June 2, 2001 and was interred in Lone Tree Cemetery in his hometown of Everly, Iowa.

Selected Sources

The main source of information on the life and career of Waldo Wilbert Wegner was found in the Waldo W. Wegner Papers RS 16/2/11 Iowa State University Center for Industrial Research and Service Records, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.  Although the collection is relatively small (one folder), it encompasses his life and work very well.  It includes newspaper clippings, resumes dated 1975 and 1991, special award nomination papers, his own handwritten autobiography, and obituaries in the Ames Daily Tribune, June 4, 2001 and the Des Moines Register, June 4, 2001 plus a news story on Wegner on the sports page of the Register the same day.  There are also two ISU student research papers on Wegner, by Julius Michalik and Heather Effland, both written in1994 that included interviews with Wegner. 

Issues of The Bomb of Iowa State from 1932-1935 chronicle his athletic career.  There are especially many photos and information about Wegner's senior year activities in the 1935 issue. 

Other information was found online.  Family and genealogical information plus marriage and military records were found in Public Member Family Trees at  

A footnoted biographical article was found on Wegner at 

Interment information was found at  

Entry #2 authored by Brad Kuennen

Wegner was born January 17, 1913, to Ernest and Amanda (Thiessen) Wegner of Everly, Iowa. Wegner enrolled at Iowa State College (now University) in engineering. He joined the basketball team, not due to any past experience, but because he read an open invitation to try out for the team in the school paper. Standing 6’4” in height, Wegner would become an outstanding center for the Cyclone team. He was Iowa State’s first All-American in basketball and a key member of the team that won Iowa State’s first Big 6 Conference title in 1935. Through three seasons of varsity basketball, Wegner played every minute of nearly every game.

By the time he graduated with his BS (1935) in civil engineering, Wegner had made the most of his Iowa State career. In addition to his starring role on the basketball team, he was a member of the Cardinal Guild, the Knights of St. Patrick, Engineering Council, Baseball, Sigma Pi, and the Varsity “I” Club. Wegner would follow up his undergraduate education with a year of graduate studies at the University of Chicago.

Wegner enjoyed a long career as an engineer and city administrator before returning to his alma mater. Immediately after graduation, Wegner worked various jobs for the Works Progress Administration of Iowa. He then served as assistant city engineer in Cedar Falls (1937-1941) and Mason City (1941-1942), served as a commissioned officer in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps during World War II (1942-1945), and then returned to Mason City as the city engineer (1945-1948). He briefly served as City Manager and City Engineer (1948-1949) in Chariton. He then moved to Cedar Rapids where he was a field engineer (1949-1956) for the Portland Cement Association and vice president and civil engineer (1956-1961) with Loomis Brothers, Inc. In 1962, he briefly served as chief engineer and general manager of a concrete plant in Omaha and prior to accepting his position at Iowa State he was serving as Director of Public Works and Village Engineer (1962-1963) for Edina, Minnesota.

When Iowa State University was looking for a person to lead the newly funded Center for Industrial Research and Service, Wegner’s varied background and familiarity with Iowa industry made him a perfect fit. In 1963, he accepted the offer to serve as the founding director of the Center for Industrial Research and Service. Initially administered by the College of Engineering, CIRAS was set up to assist Iowa’s developing industries by offering engineering and other technological support. Under Wegner’s leadership, CIRAS became an important resource for the state of Iowa and during his tenure, one report claimed that he and his staff solved over 11,500 major problems for business owners in Iowa.

With Wegner as director, CIRAS encouraged developing segments of Iowa’s industry and shared information about Iowa’s industries with the citizens of the state. CIRAS organized a series of conferences for processors of plastics, processors of frozen foods, and coal users. This led to the creation of professional associations for plastics processors and coal users in Iowa. Wegner also produced a slide program on Interesting Industries of Iowa that was presented to across the state.

As Director of CIRAS, Wegner built relationships with Iowa engineering and business organizations. He reached out to the Consulting Engineers Council, Iowa Engineering Society, Iowa Development Commission, Small Business Administration, Farmers Home Administration, and Iowa Business Development Credit Corporation. Several loan agencies relied on CIRAS staff to provide expert analysis of business operations of companies applying for loans. Wegner administered the Iowa program of the State Technical Services Act of 1965 which was passed by Congress to “promote commerce and encourage economic growth by supporting state and interstate programs to place the findings of science usefully in the hands of American enterprise.” In 1978, Wegner was the principal investigator for the proposal that led to the establishment of the Iowa Small Business Development Centers. Decades later, these centers continue to assist Iowa small business owners with guidance and access to educational resources. Wegner retired from his position on June 30, 1976.

Wegner was active in a number of statewide and national organizations. He served as President (1957) of the Iowa Engineering Society, National Vice-President (1961-1963) of the National Society of Professional Engineers, and was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the Iowa District Export Council. He was a member of the National University Extension Association and served that organization in a variety of ways over the years. Locally, Wegner served on the Iowa State Athletic Council, the Iowa State National Cyclone Club, the Alumni Association, and the Ames Rotary Club. Wegner received the Superior Service Award from the ISU Alumni Association in 1978 and was the recipient of the first Advancing the Profession Award from the National University Extension Association, also in 1978.

Wegner married Harriett Olson of Sac City, Iowa, in July 1938. They had a daughter, Ann. Harriett died in 1978 and Wegner married Catherine Sayre the following year. Waldo Wegner died in Ames on June 2, 2001, and was buried at Lone Tree Cemetery in Everly, Iowa.

Selected Sources

Waldo W. Wegner biographical file, Center for Industrial Research and Service records, RS 6/2 (see files in 6/2/2 and RS 6/2/12), Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.

Wegner, Waldo W., and Iowa State University Center for Industrial Research and Service. Proposed Small Business Development Center for State of Iowa, 1978.

“ISU to give superior service awards to 5 staff members.” Ames Daily Tribune, v. 110, no. 269, p. 9. May 10, 1978.

“Wegner given national award.” Ames Daily Tribune, v. 110, no. 251, p. 17. April 20, 1978.

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