William E. Strange Jr.

William E. Strange Jr., 75, of Charles Town, W.Va., former chief geodesist of the National Geodetic Survey, died May 10. “Bill, known as the ‘Father of CORS,’ will be remembered for his insight and vision of a nationwide system of GPS stations, which established the CORS network we know today,” said NGS Director Juliana P. Blackwell. According to a brief autobiography posted to RPLS.com on Jan. 16, 2005, Strange received a Bachelor of Science in geology from Baylor University in 1954. After a short time working at Convair Aircraft and some graduate work in geophysics, geology and mathematics at Texas A&M and Baylor, he went on to the University of Wisconsin and later the University of Hawaii where he conducted graduate work and taught geophysics with a focus on gravity. In 1965, Strange headed the Gravity Division of the Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., before entering the private industry in 1966 where he worked for contractors on NASA programs on satellite geodesy and space geophysics. He joined the National Geodetic Survey in 1974 as chief of the gravity program. One of his jobs was to integrate the satellite Doppler and early VLBI (very long baseline interferometry) and satellite laser work with conventional work into the original NAD83 and its later upgrade, which took into account GPS. From the late 1980s until his retirement, he worked on GPS and its use in a geodetic reference system. His last few years were dedicated to getting CORS under way. Following his retirement in 1998, after more than 30 years as a geophysicist/geodesist, he remained active in the geodetic community. He is remembered as a modest man with an amazing mind.


Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS), Livermore, Calif., purchased a significant ownership interest in Destura, s.r.l, Concordia Sulla Secchia, Modena, Italy. Destura designs and manufactures software and hardware electronic and mechanical products for the electronics, automotive, agriculture and telematics industries. Prior to the purchase agreement, Topcon was one of Destura’s largest customers. TPS has committed to buying the remaining ownership interest by 2014. In conjunction with the purchase, TPS will acquire a large tract of land and several industrial buildings to be used as a training facility and field test site for Europe.

Additionally, TPS announced the formation of a new survey business unit created to focus exclusively on the survey market and named Denny Welch as senior vice president and general manager. Welch is a 10-year Sokkia veteran and former vice president for Sokkia Corp. He reports directly to Ray O’Connor. Brice Walker is named vice president of survey and sales in the new business unit. Walker is a former regional sales manager with TDS, Nikon and Spectra Precision. The optical survey operations are relocated to Sokkia’s headquarters in Olathe, Kan.


Also, TPS announced the formation of a new construction business unit created to focus exclusively on the construction market. Jamie Williamson, senior vice president and general manager, heads the TPS Construction Business Unit. Williamson has been with Topcon for 14 years and served as TPS senior vice president of sales and marketing until 2008 when he became senior vice president and general manager of the TPS Survey and Construction Business Unit. Murray Lodge continues as vice president of construction sales in the new business unit.

Also, TPS named Mark Contino vice president of product marketing for Topcon’s five business units. Contino reports to Ray O’Connor. Contino continues to develop and expand the Topcon University training program. Topcon regional managers Joel Frost and Mark Larranaga and Sokkia regional manager Pat Moran are named senior regional sales managers covering the United States.

Merrick & Company, Aurora, Colo., hired Matt West, PLS, as director of surveying. In this role, West oversees the strategic expansion of Merrick’s surveying practice. His responsibilities include operational leadership, strategic planning, business development, technology innovation and career mentoring. West is a member of the American Wind Energy Association, Society of Military Engineers, National Society of Professional Surveyors and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping.


Pacific Crest Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., appointed Don Speedy to head of business development and sales for North America. Speedy has more than nine years of experience in business development and OEM GNSS, GIS and survey sales. He is responsible for driving strategic partnerships in OEM GNSS and data link communications while maintaining regional relationships. Prior to joining Pacific Crest, Speedy was at Hemisphere GPS, Raven Industries and Thales Navigation.

Kuker-Ranken Inc., Seattle, hired Jason Halttunen as geomatics sales and support in the Washington and Northern Idaho territories. Formerly a Leica Geosystems regional representative, Halttunen has nearly 15 years of experience in the land surveying industry. He brings with him advanced knowledge of all Leica products.

James W. Sewall Co., Old Town, Maine, appointed Joseph H. Osborne to utilities solutions manager. Osborne brings 20 years of experience in GIS and related technology solutions for government and the utilities industry. He plays a strategic role in expanding Sewall’s traditional client base in utilities, including gas and electric distribution/transmission, water/wastewater and telecommunications.