Obituary: Past President Harry Tow Has Passed Away

Members in the News

Sad to learn that CWEA and WEF Past-President Harry Tow has passed away in May.  Announcement from QK (formerly Quad-Knopf),  the engineering firm Harry helped found.

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we share the peaceful passing of QK co-founder Harry Tow, PE, AICP. He was 94 years old.

Throughout his 48 years at Quad, Quad Knopf, and now QK, Harry shared his insight and wisdom with those of us who had the privilege to work with him. He was an incredible mentor, friend, and positive influence, and was devoted to service of his community through his consulting work, literally for as long as possible.

Over the last 60+ years, Harry established an extraordinary record of service to our Central Valley community as a city official, professional engineer and planner, business owner, mentor, and church, and community leader. He has been recognized for his professional skills in civil engineering, environmental planning and city management, as well as his personal contributions in leading young adults and passion for creating economic growth in the Central Valley.

As an ASCE Lifemember (ASCE member since 1974), Harry was a tireless ambassador for the engineering community.  He served on many boards and engineering committees with professional organizations where service to the ASCE organization was leveraged ten-fold by his professionalism and involvement with other services to his profession.

Harry had been on the water engineering front decades before the California water crisis and was a key member of the State Water Resources Control Board (the “old” statewide unpaid board, which included representatives from industry, districts, environmental community, etc. and preceded the present structure).

Continue reading on the Quad Knopf website…

Here is a past profile of Harry from the CWEA website.

Harry Tow
CWEA Life Member
CWEA President 1975
WEF President 1984
Previous: City of Visalia City Manager, 1958 – 1972
Current: Consultant at QK Inc., 

Harry Tow

Harry Tow joined CWEA when he was City Manager with the City of Visalia, where he started in 1958. “I was city manager at the time, had been a wastewater treatment plant designer, and worked as a glorified operator, working as shift superintendent, so it was an opportunity to continue to meet and converse with people who were in the same profession or had the same professional background.” 

In 1972 Harry entered private consulting practice and is still working with QK Inc. (formerly Quad Knopf, Inc.). “Maintaining contact with the profession and with what’s going on through CWEA are both helpful and essential.”  

Harry became CWEA President in 1975, and was WEF President in 1984. Both of these positions gave him the opportunity to meet with members of both associations by attending conferences or traveling to visit the various member associations. “It was interesting and certainly professionally very rewarding to be able to talk with the various associations up and down the state. The two experiences were useful to converse with, and learn from, people throughout the state and throughout the country.” 

In Harry’s opinion, the greatest breakthrough in water treatment since CWEA’s inception 90 years ago is not a single technological breakthrough, but rather in the increasing professionalism of the people in the water industry through the years. 

“The professionalism of everyone in the water industry, not just the engineers, but the operations people, maintenance people, the laboratory people. That has been, I think, a most significant development, and one which CWEA has greatly assisted through their training programs and through their work with the state in terms of certifying people. The association has been exceedingly valuable in that regard.” 

He feels this is a more significant advance than all the other technology changes he’s witnessed in treatment process or physical process changes. 

“The people process of professionalizing the entire group of people that work in the industry has been significant, and the CWEA has been a major factor in that.”  

Harry’s advice to anyone wanting to succeed as a water professional is two part: “Get all the education you can, and stay involved in the professional societies, including CWEA.”  

Harry also expresses his appreciation to the CWEA for all their courtesies extended to him over the years.