Jerry Parola, former Vice President, retires

  • Aug 13, 2018
  • Roselle, IL
Jerry Parola Retires

Former Vice President Jerry Parola, Case Foundation Corporate Executive, retires after 48 years of service in deep foundation construction mostly with Case and Hayward Baker (HBI). He celebrated his retirement with coworkers at Fox & Hound Bar and Grill in Schaumburg, Illinois on June 6.

Humble beginnings

Jerry grew up in the small town of Taylor Springs, Illinois, graduated Hillsboro High School, and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign where he received his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1962, M.S. in Civil and Structural Engineering a year later, and his Ph.D. in Civil and Geotechnical Engineering in 1970. In undergraduate school, Jerry was a varsity football letterman with a full scholarship. In graduate school, Jerry was a research assistant, teacher, and consultant.

Jerry married his high school sweetheart Sharon as a junior in college, and they've been married for almost 60 years… "And still going!" Jerry says. They raised two boys and now have five grandchildren.

In 1979, Jerry started a piling division with Case, which was strictly a drilled shaft contractor at the time, assuming the role of Vice President. In 2005, Keller switched his division to HBI in Chicago where Jerry would work until retirement as VP of Case and Chief Engineer for HBI:

"I was 65 at that point already debating retirement and didn't want to run the division. Interesting projects kept surfacing, and I enjoyed mentoring young engineers. I looked up one day and didn't know where all the time went!"

Defining moments in Jerry’s career include work on the famous Chicago S-curve on Lake Shore Drive (1982), the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida (1984), Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago (2005), the Chicago Spire (2007-08), the University of Chicago Library (2009), challenging projects from 2010 to present including a University of Chicago research center, the Wrigley Field plaza building, the HBI Vice President Raymond Franz, the Chicago Financial Polk building, and numerous others.

The Great Chicago Flood of 1992

In April 1992, Jerry was instrumental in developing a plan to stop water flow from the north branch of the Chicago River into freight tunnels that laced the city of Chicago.

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(L to R) John Kenny, Jr., Mayor Richard M. Daley, US Vice President Dan Quayle, and Jerry)

A contractor had been installing driven piles at a Kinzie St. Bridge abutment and penetrated the service tunnel beneath, flooding all basements 8 feet or deeper. The city was operating on generators due to loss of power, and sandbags and concrete to try and slow the leakage. Jerry proposed installing 5-foot-diameter drilled shafts through the top of tunnel, and the idea was approved:

"I had 150-ton cranes trucked down Lake Shore Drive with Chicago Police escorts as well as concrete trucks to ensure a continuous tremie pour. It was the most cooperation I've ever had on a project in my life." Jerry dealt directly with Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was relying on private industry. "It looked like a warzone, and the media was hovering around like crazy trying to get stories."

With about 80 crewmen including divers for tunnel clean-up, Case sealed three shaft holes in six days working 24-hour shifts by installing three concrete seal plugs and three secondary stone-filled shafts to reduce water flow for diver clean-up prior to the concrete plug installations. Mayor Daley held a private appreciation dinner for Case the following week: "The city supported us 100 percent."

Work (still) ahead

Jerry isn't leaving forever—he'll remain with HBI part time as a Senior Engineer.

"My dad told me that as you age, time passes more quickly," he explains. "I told him that didn't make sense. Now, it seems like time flew by in the blink of an eye." He will miss the challenging projects and people, but he's going to use this family time to follow sports, hunt, and fish at his lake house across the border in Wisconsin. He lives in Grayslake, Il. with Sharon.

"Jerry will be sorely missed. His enthusiasm and energy have been infectious with our staff throughout the Midwest. He has been an important mentor for many of us and is a unique source of knowledge on topics as wide-ranging as piling, earth retention, childrearing, and all things athletic. We wish Jerry the very best."

Raymond Franz, HBI Vice President