Morten Renslo’s Life
Written August 2020 by his Sons
Born: August 18, 1923 in Baerum, Norway (borders West End Oslo)
Died: August 18, 2020 at 97 years old in Walnut Creek Kaiser Hospital, California
1939 to 1943: Sinsen High School, Oslo, Norway
Graduated June 1943
1946 to 1948: Schous Technical Institute, Oslo, Norway
1948 to 1952: The Federal Institute of Technology, Vienna, Austria (Technische Hochschule in Wien)
Diploma: Masters, Structural Civil Engineering, Graduated 12/12/1952
Specialty: Steel, Reinf. Concrete and Wooden Structures in Industrial and Hydro Works
1952 to 1954: O.F. Frederiksen Consulting Firm, Oslo, Norway
Multi-story dwellings, industrial structures, wharves, tunnels in reinf concrete, steel,wood
1954 to 1956: Bechtel Corporation, San Francisco, CA, Power & Industrial Division
1956 to 1958: Kaiser Engineers, Oakland, CA; Squad Leader on design and layout of major structures for
Steel mill design & layout in Jamshedpur, India
1957 to 1958: W.B. Gilbert Consulting Firm, San Francisco, CA
Design of multistory dwellings, churches, & schools in wood, steel, and reinf concrete
1958 to 19??: Senior Engineer w broad experience in hydro and industrial work design and layout
-American River powerhouses and arch dams, Sacramento Municipal District,
-Round Butte fish gates and fish facilities, Portland General Electric Company,
-Douglas County fish gates and facilities, Washington, Wells Hydroelectric Project,
-Utah Ham’s Fork Dam spillway structural design,
-Mult other hydroelectric projects: prep, cost estimates, bid specs, operation manuals…
19?? to 1985: Bechtel Corporation, San Francisco, CA
-? participant in South Korea Power Plants x 3 construction beginning ~1954
-Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Pennsylvania, ~10 year project
Design supervisor of majority of building structures except core reactor
-Saudi Arabia, City Construction participation
-Other projects? (multiple worldwide projects per Bechtel Corporation)
1944 Diplomas from the Norwegian Resistance Movement (H7):
Commando Championship, Clay Competition, Terrain Champion (cross country racing via compass),
Military Staff Accommodation, Swimming Relay Accommodation, Battalion Masters Captain
Prof Affiliation: American Society of Civil Engineers
As evident from his achievements, Morten was a well accomplished civil engineer and directly participated or had a supervising role in multiple major engineering and construction projects across the United States and in many other countries. According to his wife, Hilda, and work contacts
(remembrances of past co-workers or those he supervised), he had a reputation for being enjoyable to work with. “Everybody liked him” says Hilda. From his work writings, we noticed he also thought well of his staff. He always saw the best in others and would encourage those working around or under him with positive reinforcement, emphasizing their strengths.
This nurturing behavior was evident at home too. From an early age, even though we complained about his “extra assignments” he actually made them fun somehow. When other kids were out playing in the summer, we still had to spend some of our days doing math problems for Dad which he would check over, compliment us on, and then instruct us a bit on how to improve. We also benefited (not initially recognized as such) while growing up on how to build just about everything around our home. Some of these included: Patio concrete repairs and upgrades, trailer patio and roof, main roof maintenance and repairs, jacuzzi and patio installation, kitchen remodeling, and endless outdoor landscaping projects. Although it was clear that he loved concrete (he had us mixing it perfectly for him in large wooden box bins he made for us to stand in while he added just the right amount of “lamp black” for color), his favorite summer past time may have simply been cutting our long wild grass with the large European scythe.
Morten’s true favorite pastimes included camping with family, hiking, tennis, running, and of course skiing in the winter.
Although he was an expert cross-country skier, he preferred downhill skiing probably because cross country skiing was like walking for him used so often to get around during winters when he was young. His son, Gary, even learned how to ski by Dad holding him with his skis between Dad’s skis while safely traversing the downhill slopes. What a great tutor! We learned endurance too. For years, Dad took us cross-country using downhill skis to the ski resort. After a few years of many tiering cross-country trips from the parking lot to the resort, we wondered how those people in the gondola over our heads were getting to the resort before us. Turns out, our Dad wanted us to appreciate the joy of a ski lift when we finally got there! We have many happy memories taking the ski runs with Dad, enjoying stopping for lunch on a mountain log in the snow while he took mom’s delicious sandwiches from his rucksack.
Dad also taught us a love of swimming, both encouraging us on the swim team and by taking us far out into the ocean waves. We learned how to drive under and jump over the breakers, concurring any fears of the powerful ocean waves with Dad always close by as we body-surfed to the shore.
Our vacations in the trailer were the highlights of the summer. A week in the mountains hiking the trails to a lake or mountain top and a week at the beach enjoying the cool surf breezes and often a day at Disneyland. It couldn’t have been a better adventure for three boys with boundless energy and a desire to explore.
While Dad was very independent, he enjoyed years of square and round dancing with mom. They practiced dancing calls during the week listening to cassette tapes of their favorite square-dancing songs. When Dad was building the house extension, he left the floor with plywood for many months and invited couples to practice at the house before the big dances. Dad always wanted to be great at what he does, and dancing was no exception. Another favorite pastime for Dad was the game of bridge. Mom and Dad played for many years, studying the best bidding conventions and playing in bridge tournaments in the local leagues.
His determination and dedication to any task or goal was extraordinary and he was always a great example of how hard work brings rewards. He made the commute every day without fail from Orinda to San Francisco (he never seemed to stay home ill), worked a full day, and then, when most of us are exhausted, he went running on the 4-mile ridge trail around the Lafayette reservoir. This was his daily routine for many years and likely a major reason for his long life.
From Dad, we learned any challenge was a problem to solve. Be it a challenging school project, building a woodshed or retaining wall, repairing a car, or landscaping the yard, he showed us that you can use sound reasoning and knowledge to be successful in any effort. He was very independent and disliked putting work on others to help him. One time, when placing a heavy header beam to support a new roof, he first built a lever system to hoist the beam into place. He always had a solution.
He also had eight grandchildren who enjoyed his company and his lessons. He passed along his building expertise to them as well with lots of landscaping projects! He helped his grandson Jet learn about investing with concepts developed for college students. He shared his life experiences and wisdom and was always excited to see his grandkids, saying a cheerful “Hey Hey!” when he greeted them at the door.
We loved spending time with Dad at any time throughout his life. He was calm and caring and a great source of help and support for just about any life related questions or concerns, always finding the positive note in any area of concern. He wasn’t one to talk about love but he instead showed us how much he loved us every day. He was the foundation, supporting a strong, happy, and growing family.
---------------out of time…. But there’s so much more!
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