Cover photo for Richard B. Konzen's Obituary
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1931 Richard 2024

Richard B. Konzen

October 21, 1931 — March 26, 2024

College Station

Richard B. Konzen was born October 21, 1931 in Earlville, IA to Nicholas and Gertrude Konzen. There were 11 children in the family, six boys and five girls. He attended St. Joseph Catholic School for 10 years and graduated from Earlville High School in 1949. He graduated from an electronics radio and television school in 1950 and worked at Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, IA until he entered the U.S. Navy in February 1951. He was an electronics technician and radioman in a weather squadron on Guam the last year and a half of his tour of duty. In February 1955, he was honorably discharged and entered Iowa State College that fall to study engineering. He left college early in 1957 and worked until he entered the University of Iowa to study Civil Engineering in the spring of 1958. 

In July 1960 he married Rosemary H. Wallace and together they had two children. The first, Karla, was born in March 1961 but the second, a son, died shortly after birth.

Richard received his B.S. in Civil Engineering in May of 1961. He was employed at the University of Iowa in the Environmental Health and Safety Division and studied for an M.S. in Sanitary Engineering, which he received in February 1964.

Richard then went to work for the U.S. Public Health Service as an Industrial Hygiene Engineer in the Salt Lake City, UT Field Station. In July 1966, he returned to Iowa State College to initiate an environmental health and safety program there.

In September 1968, Richard entered the doctoral program in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Iowa, College of Medicine. He received his doctorate in August 1970. He moved once again and took a position as Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University that fall to teach industrial hygiene and safety engineering. During the ensuing years he was promoted to Associate Professor and became Program Director of the Industrial Hygiene and Safety Engineering Division in the Industrial Engineering Department. Richard’s greatest pleasure was derived from his mentoring and interaction with the many students at the undergraduate and graduate levels he was privileged to teach. Over the years, he provided financial and program support for over 130 graduate students. He retired as Associate Professor Emeritus in the Nuclear Engineering Department in August 1991.

His wife Rosemary died in January 1979 and he remarried in 1982 to Jacque M. Cysewski. She too passed away in July 1990.

Professionally, Richard was very active in the American Industrial Hygiene Association, a national professional association, being Secretary on the Board of Directors for four years and was elected a Fellow in the Association. He was on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Industrial Hygiene for six years and Secretary of the Joint Committee of the ABIH/BCSP for Certification of Technologists for five years. He was a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas, certified in the Comprehensive Practice of Industrial Hygiene and was a Certified Safety Professional. He was also a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, American Public Health Association, National Society of Professional Engineers, Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, American Academy of Industrial Hygiene, and Institute of Noise Control Engineers. He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus, having been Grand Knight of Council 3205 and Faithful Navigator of Assembly 2041 in College Station, TX. He was a founding member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, also of College Station, TX.

Richard is reunited in Heaven with his first wife, Rosemary; second wife, Jacque; parents, Nicholas and Gertrude Konzen; brothers, Elmer, Edward, William, Lawrence, and Joseph; and sisters, Virginia, Anna Jane, and Kathleen. 

Left to cherish his memory is his daughter, Karla L. Konzen of Richmond, TX; stepsons, John Cysewski, Chris Wilhelm, Steve Cysewski, and Tom Cysewski; and sisters, Marie O'Neill and Alice Tauke.

Richards philanthropy at Iowa was incredible. He made his first gift to Iowa in 1964. Since 1981, he made a gift to Iowa single every year until his passing. He contributed money annually to both the College of Public Health and College of Engineering as he was equally proud of the impact both of those colleges had on him. In 2013, Richard established two scholarships: the Richard B. and Rosemary W. Public Health Scholarship and the Richard B. and Rosemary W. Engineering Scholarship. His support through the establishment of these two scholarships improved the lives of 68 students by providing scholarship funds to assist them at a time they needed it most. Any future gifts made in Richard’s honor would be greatly appreciated and impactful. Please include the scholarship name in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to:

The University of Iowa Center for Advancement, PO Box 4550, Iowa City, IA 52244-4550.

To order memorial trees in memory of Richard B. Konzen, please visit our tree store.

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