Garabed (Garo) Ardash Harutunian, a Fellow and Life Member of ASCE, was awarded the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASCE Texas Section during CECON 2020. It is with a heavy heart that the ASCE Texas Section shares of Garo’s recent passing on March 4, 2021. His dedication to the civil engineering profession and service to his community will not be forgotten. His kind heart, smile, and encouraging words will be deeply missed by the ASCE Texas Section members.
Garo was born in Baghdad, Iraq on November 12, 1942. He was baptized in the “old church” of Baghdad and received his First Holy Communion at the Saint Joseph Church in Baghdad. As a youth, Garo attended French Carmelite and Jesuit school. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Al-Hikma University of Baghdad in 1964, a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in 1968, and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) in 1970.
Upon graduation from UT Austin, Garo started his engineering career by joining Freese and Nichols in Austin and then Bryant Currington. Garo became a registered Professional Engineer in 1973 and obtained his Professional Surveyor License in 1980. In 1977, he became the cofounder of Triad Engineering and then became one of the directors and co-founders of Harutunian Engineering in 1988. Garo also founded Kurkjian Engineering, which he operated until the fall of 2014 when his battle with cancer forced him to retire. Garo honored his Armenian heritage by using Armenian words to name streets of his civil engineering projects.
Garo was a long-time member of ASCE and particularly the Austin Branch where he served as Branch President from 1998-1999. He also served ASCE Texas Section as Vice President for Technical Affairs. His tireless volunteerism earned him numerous awards, including the Austin Branch Civil Engineer of the Year (2000), ASCE Texas Section Service to People Award (2001), Professional Service Award (2005), John A. Focht, Jr. Citizen Engineer Award (2010), and the ASCE Texas Section Lifetime Achievement Award (2020). Garo was also awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the City of Austin in 2014.
Outside of his career and service to ASCE, Garo was active in the Catholic Church. He was very involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Saint Mary Cathedral in Austin, where he helped the poor and donated toys for children during Christmas time. Through the Catholic Church, Garo was also involved with the Knights of Columbus organization. Garo served the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Austin, Saint Mary Cathedral and the Saint Mary Cathedral Knights of Columbus Council Number 14055 with honor, grace and a humble heart. He was loved and respected by his fellow parishioners of Saint Mary Cathedral and his brother Knights of Saint Mary Cathedral Knights of Columbus Council Number 14055. In October 2019, the academic scholarship awarded by the Saint Mary Knights of Columbus Council Number 14055 to a deserving student graduation from the Cathedral School of Saint Mary was renamed the Garabed Ardash Harutunian Honorary Scholarship.
Garo loved engineering and it showed in all he did. Over the course of his successful career, he worked on numerous engineering projects throughout Texas, Iraq, Scotland, and Colombia. He found that his membership in ASCE provided him the opportunity to network, make lifelong friends, learn, and exchange solutions to solve engineering problems.