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Arthur Witters, Builder of USAF Academy, Dies

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Arthur G. Witters, among the first construction program graduates of the University of Florida, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and a key figure in managing design, construction and early operation of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., died on April 16 in Orlando at age 91. The cause was pulmonary fibrosis, says Richard C. Witters, his son and president of design firm Witters & Bank, an Arlington, Va., engineering firm.

Witters (center) shows model to Lt. Gen. Hubert Harmon (right), the academy’s first superintendent, and Dwight Eisenhower in 1954.
Witters (center) shows model to Lt. Gen. Hubert Harmon (right), the academy’s first superintendent, and Dwight Eisenhower in 1954.
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Arthur G. Witters

After earning his degree in 1941 and World War II service as a decorated fighter pilot, Witters studied architectural engineering at Iowa State University, where he developed the Air Force Academy's design concept for his master's thesis. The former West Point instructor later became the academy's first installations director.

Witters had a pivotal role in selecting the academy site and in setting the scope for the planned facility's master plan and design, executed by Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, once Congress approved construction funds in 1954. He was awarded the Legion of Merit upon the academy's completion.

Witters retired in 1965 as USAF architectural branch chief and deputy construction director. He later served as an advisor to Secretary of the Air Force and also was an executive at several industry firms, including Day & Zimmermann and Gilbane Building Co.

Witters also is the author of “Off We Go,” a 2009 memoir on the academy’s construction, and with his late wife, Beverley, recently endowed an annual University of Florida program that aims to boost links between its architecture and construction disciplines, says Richard Witters.


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