Former ASFE President, Kenneth E. Darnell’s Passing

On April 27, 2022 Kenneth E. “Ken: Darnell, P.E. of Loudon, Tennessee passed away.  Ken was a significant contributor to our Association and served on the Board of Directors and as the President of ASFE in 1995-1996. He recognized the importance of mentorship.

During his Presidency, he was instrumental in starting the Fundamentals of Professional Practice program which was for many years a rite of passage for rising stars in geoprofessional firms across North America.

Here is what a few of Ken’s friends and colleagues shared:
Ken was an extremely clever guy, but just humble enough that you had to love him. Since I worked closely with Ken on the ASFE Board of Directors when he was the President, there is one particular impact that Ken had on our firm and many other ASFE firms at that time. That was back in the day that everyone was hung up on Quality and TQM. Ken had the ability to cut right to the chase. In this case, his reaction was to introduce us to W. Edwards Deming. The quality guru. Of any management consultant, Deming is the one person I think about when I’m really perplexed, i.e. “what would Deming have said?” because he spoke in such simple terms. Just like Ken did.” ~ Richard T. “Dick” Reynolds, PE, F. GBA, Past President (1996-1997)

He was, all in all, a true professional. His ready smile and infectious laugh could obscure the fact that he was a master of geotechnical engineering, extraordinarily intelligent, and wise. As significant as his accomplishments might have been, however, he was quick to deflect praise and give credit to others whenever he believed it was their due . . . which was often.” ~ John Bachner, CEO Bachner Communications, Inc. and EVP of ASFE/GBA (1975-2015)

I worked closely with Ken over the years, and he consulted with us as Terra’s first, Engineer Claim Consultant. He sorted out difficult engineering claim issues for us and simplified complex discussions. He was so smart- an intellectual- but he would never say so and would chafe at the moniker. I really liked Ken. He was such a wonderful person.” David L. Coduto, President, and CEO of Terra Insurance Company.

Ken was a mentor to me for many years. He was a strong influence in my professional career and also a good friend. Countless times I benefited from having him as a sounding board and listening to his sagged, southern wisdom. His encouragement was one of the main reasons I became more deeply involved with GBA (ASFE). The values and behaviors that Ken exhibited were also reflected in GBA.

Our organization benefited from Ken’s leadership and involvement. His contributions were many. I feel very fortunate to have worked closely with him in the consulting business and in giving back to the profession. I’m a better person and professional for having known him.” Jay Martin, P.E., F.GBA GBA Past President (2010-2011)

More information about Ken Darnell can be found in his obituary: HERE