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LCC chooses former track field star as 2018 alumnus of the year

Lou Mace, right, and his wife, Jeanne.

Lou Mace, a former Lower Columbia College track star who later helped engineer many dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, has been named the college’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year.

The college made the announcement Wednesday.

Mace graduated from R.A. Long High School in 1953 and attended LCC from 1954 to 1955. He was a track and field athlete for LCC and set a state junior college pole vault record in 1955, according to an LCC press release.

Mace later earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Oregon State University, then went to work on hydroelectric projects on the Columbia and Snake rivers. He established his own company, which eventually was bought out by S.J. Groves Construction.

With Groves, he was involved in notable Northwest projects, such as building the Interstate 205 bridge, widening Interstate 84 in Portland and building five major dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. One of these projects included the $250 million second powerhouse at Bonneville Dam the largest contract ever awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at that time, according to LCC.

Mace eventually became president of S.J. Groves Construction and supervised operations in South America, Canada and Saudi Arabia. He was inducted into the Oregon State Engineering Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2014, he was inducted into the LCC Hall of Fame for his track and field achievements.

Since fully retiring in 1991, Mace and his wife, Jeanne, divide their time between California and Idaho.

In a statement released by the college, Mace says, “A colleague of mine once told me that the definition of ‘luck’ is ‘when preparation meets opportunity.’ Lower Columbia was central in my preparation. Without the continued education and guidance received at LCC, I would not have been so fortunate and lucky.”

LCC President Chris Bailey said Mace “represents the concept of a local kid, who, through hard work and perseverance, made a big difference in the world. His life work also shows the value of a community college education.”

The LCC Foundation will honor him at its Horns & Halos Gala in September.

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