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Stanford Report, September 6, 2000

Lew Palmer Lane, '51, retired construcation manager, dies


Lewis Palmer Lane II, a member of the Class of '51 and a retired university employee, died on Aug. 17 at his home in Tucson, Ariz., after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 71.

Lane was buried next to his parents in Redlands, Calif., following a service there on Aug. 23.

Lane was born and raised in Long Beach, Calif., and attended Stanford on a Navy scholarship. In 1951, he earned a bachelor's and in 1956 a master's degree in civil engineering. He earned a Stanford "S" playing on the varsity soccer team. Lane served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955.

In 1997, Lane retired as a construction project manager from the utilities division in Facilities Operations, where he had worked for 10 years. Before that, he worked on campus for utility contractor Wenrick and Associates from 1963 to 1978 and for Bechtel Corp. from 1984 to 1987. He managed many underground projects, including the original Lasuen sanitary sewer main, the West Campus and Campus Drive storm drains and the San Francisquito Creek fish ladder. "I've worked on hundreds of projects," Lane said before retiring. "But if I do my job right, no one will have ever heard of me."

Bob Hockey, a colleague from Facilities Operations, said that Lane postponed his retirement because he enjoyed his work on campus so much. "Lew loved construction, and was one of the smartest technical and design professionals one could ever meet," he said. "His varied career led him to being a master at balancing value for Stanford's dollars and fair play for contractors. Lew ran his life and work in the most organized manner; he disliked surprises and risks."

Lane's daughter, Susan Lane, said her father loved his alma mater. "He kept the framed retirement card on the wall of his office [at home] where he could see it every day," she said. "He was a very good man, and I believe that both he and Stanford are better for the time spent together. He never cared about material or financial wealth; he cared about doing a good job and being proud of that."

When the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989, Susan Lane said her father went around campus checking underground pipes and projects to make sure everything was safe. "Not because it was his job," she said, "but because it was something that needed to be done. Any contracts he worked on were completed to spec, were inspected thoroughly and are safe and solid for generations to come."

Lane is survived by his former wife, Marilyn Lane, of Tucson; his sister, June Phelps, of Pacific Palisades, Calif.; his children Susan of San Diego, and Laura and Lewis Lane III of Tucson; his daughter-in-law, Veronika Lane, of Tucson; his stepson, David Simpson, of Sonoma; and four grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made in Lane's name to the U.M.C./Cancer Center Assistance Fund, 1501 North Campbell Ave., P.O. Box 245082, Tucson, AZ 85724. SR