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Ralph H. Kummler

November 1, 1940 December 7, 2009
Ralph H. Kummler
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Obituary for Ralph H. Kummler

Dr. Ralph H. Kummler, age 69 of Commerce Twp., passed away unexpectedly on December 7, 2009 at Sinai-Grace Hospital. Ralph was born on November 1, 1940 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Rudy and Trudy Kummler. He met and married Jean Helge in 1962 and the same year he received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute. With the constant support of his loving wife, Ralph continued his education and in 1966, with Jean at his side, he received his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 1966. He worked as a staff engineer and principal investigator for the GE Space Sciences Laboratory in Valley Forge, Penn. from 1965 to 1969, specializing in environmental engineering. In 1970, he and Jean moved their growing family to Michigan when he joined the Wayne State University Chemical Engineering Department as an associate professor, and was appointed full professor in 1975. He served as chairman of Chemical and Metallurgical (now Materials) Engineering from 1974 until 1993 and as the associate dean for research from 1997 to 2001. He also was director of the Hazardous Waste Management Programs at WSU. Kummler was appointed interim dean in May, 2001, and became permanent dean in August, 2004.

Dr. Kummler published or presented more than 200 papers in chemical and environmental engineering, served as president or chairman of the Detroit Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Michigan Chapter of the Air Pollution Control Association, the College of Engineering Faculty Assembly, the Wayne State University Club, the Kirkwood Lake Preservation Association, and is a Fellow of the Engineering Society of Detroit. He was the 1990 ESD Affiliate Council's Gold Award winner, a 1994 and 2004 ESD Distinguished Service Awardee and the 1999 Horace Rackham Humanitarian Honoree. He served as a member of and consultant to the USEPA SAB. And he served on the Board of Directors of the East Michigan Air and Waste Management Assoc. He served on the ESD Board of Directors, and as a North Central Accreditation Visitor.

He led numerous research and planning studies of environmental issues in the state of Michigan, including combined storm overflow studies on the Rouge and Detroit Rivers, Industrial Waste Control, Landfill Gas Emission Studies, Air Pollution Dispersion, Auto Exhaust Testing and an Environment and Safety Analysis of the city of Flint Department of Public Works. He consulted for many public and private entities on environmental issues. He led faculty teams at Wayne State that created the Rouge River Archives, the graduate certificate and master of science programs in Hazardous Waste Management, and the certificate program in Environmental Auditing.

Dr. Kummler served on the International Joint Commission's Detroit-Windsor/Port Huron-Sarnia Air Pollution Advisory Committee and is the past chair of the Detroit River Binational Public Advisory Committee and the Michigan Detroit River RAP Interim Partnership. He was an international environmental advisor to Czechoslovakia, Egypt and Mexico. Kummler served on ESD's Board of Directors for six years, chaired the membership committee, served on the EPA Board and publications committee, was the technical editor of ESD's Journal of Environmental Engineering and Management, and chair of the ESD Publications Committee. Governor John Engler appointed him in 1996 (reappointed in 1998 and 2001) to the Michigan Environmental Science Board. As Dean he fundraised for the Marvin 1. Danto Engineering Development Center, and oversaw its design, construction, dedication and implementation.

He championed the creation of the Alternative Energy Certificate and MS Programs, the Collaboration with Next Energy, Sustainable Engineering, Systems Engineering, encouraged ROTC programs, the Center for Academic Excellence, and moved the Department of Biomedical Engineering to a shared oversight with the School of Medicine. He created and Cochaired 11 biennial Cairo International Conferences on Energy and Environment in Egypt, and opened negotiations with many Chinese universities to create pipeline programs. He stepped down as Dean of Engineering on August 19, 2009 for a year leave of absence and had planned to rejoin the faculty in August of 2010.

Although Ralph received numerous accolades throughout his professional career, above all else he believed his greatest achievements were quieter and more personal in nature. He adored Jean, treasuring every moment of their 47 wonderful years together. He was a very devoted father and never missed an opportunity to be involved in his sons� lives. He coached their little league teams and was the Scout Master for Troop 1699 in Birmingham. An Eagle Scout himself, he supported each of his sons as they too became Eagle Scouts. As his family grew with his sons� marriages and the joyous arrival of each of his 5 grandchildren, Ralph had never been happier. Ralph was a member of St. Peter�s Danish Lutheran Church, where he was President of the Church Council, and later joined Cana Lutheran Church in Berkley before transferring to All Saints Lutheran Church in Hartland ten years ago. He and Jean enjoyed their home on Lake Sherwood, spending hours on the lake enjoying the water, swimming and touring in his pontoon. Never far from his side was Cleo, his faithful Beagle buddy.

Ralph is survived by Jean, his loving wife of forty-seven years; sons, Randy (Ann), Brad (Mackenzy), Jeff (Kim); grandchildren, Ryan, Krista, Brady, Camden and Branden. He is also survived by his sisters, Judy (Jerry) Restaino, Barbara (Tony) Traficant and many loving extended family members and dear friends who come together to mourn the loss of a great man.

A Funeral Service will be held at All Saints Lutheran Church, 12685 W. Highland Road, Hartland, on Friday, December 11, at 11AM. Friends may visit at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty, Milford, Wednesday 6-9PM, Thursday 3-9PM and after 10:30AM at the church on Friday. Memorials may be made in his name to the Ralph and Jean Kummler Scholarship, #477004 at Wayne State University, College of Engineering, 5050 Anthony Wayne Dr., Detroit, MI 48202. For further information please phone 248-684-6645.

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