The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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LaMont Matthews Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

July 1, 2015


“A Hometown Company with a Global Reach”  July 1, 2015  Location: Matthews residence, North Albany, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Matthews discusses his family background, his upbringing in Dayton, Oregon, his experience of the war years, and his decision to attend Oregon State College and major in engineering. In reflecting specifically on his undergraduate experience, he notes his living arrangements, campus traditions that were prevalent in the early 1950s, his academic progression, and his first contacts with the CH2M engineering firm.

The bulk of the session is devoted to Matthews' memories of a career at CH2M Hill that spanned nearly fifty years. In this, he describes the firm's earliest Corvallis offices as well as the culture of the company at the time of his arrival. He likewise recalls his impressions of and interactions with the founders of the company: Fred Merryfield, Holly Cornell, Burke Hayes, and Jim Howland.

Matthews next provides an outline of his job responsibilities as he advanced within the rapidly growing company, noting his work as an engineer and project manager, and describing his ascent through the managerial ranks. He likewise recalls the changes that he observed as the company expanded, commenting on the relocation of the firm's headquarters from Corvallis to Denver, reflecting on its early use of computers, and describing the broad ownership philosophy that engendered strong feelings of loyalty from CH2M Hill employees.

The interview winds up with Matthews' memories of stepping down from management and ultimately retiring from CH2M Hill. He concludes the session with remarks on his activities in retirement - including his passionate involvement with Court Appointed Special Advocates - notes on family, and an appreciation of his connection to OSU.