ALBERT H. STEVENSON
THE FOURTH CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE USPHS COMMISSIONED CORPS
CHIEF ENGINEER: 1966 – 1971
Albert Henry Stevenson, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1914, has served his engineering profession with distinction in local, state and Federal settings; in Alaska Native and American Indian communities; as well as in international assignments. In addition to his public sector work, he has worked in private sector engineering and as an engineering consultant. His formal and continuing volunteer professional efforts span 70 years.
He received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Union College in 1936 and a master’s degree in sanitary engineering from Harvard University, under the renowned Professor Gordon Fair, in 1937.
After two years as a district engineer with the New York State Department of Health he joined the Malcolm Pirnie Engineering Firm in 1939 working primarily on public water supplies.
He began his career as a Commissioned Officer in the Public Health Service in 1941; the same year he married Alexandra Korsmeyer in Scarsdale, New York.
His early work in the PHS involved environmental health control measures near Army camps and analysis of emergency water supply and sewerage projects to assist war impacted communities. In 1947 he was transferred to Cincinnati to help in the development of what would become the Robert A. Taft Sanitary Engineering Center where he served as Deputy Officer in Charge. His work covered broad management of the Research Center, including staffing of professional researchers, initiation of a national air sampling network, coordination of advanced sanitary engineering and radiological health training, and direction of the first substantive U. S. study of bathing water quality and health.
In 1954 he was promoted to the rank of Captain and transferred to the headquarters of the Federal Civil Defense Administration in Battle Creek, Michigan as the agency’s chief sanitary engineer. There he was also involved in the Yucca Flats study to determine the effects on utilities from detonation of atomic weapons.
In 1956 he began his assignment to the Indian Health Service in what would be the period of dramatic growth of engineering and environmental health programs for the American Indian and Alaska Native. Among other significant accomplishments in his service during a 10 year period, was his work in facilitating the passage of and subsequent implementation of Public Law 86-121, the Indian Water Supply and Sanitation Facilities Act of 1959. The resulting “self-help” program was largely responsible for the rapid reduction of the infantile death rate and enteric disease burden among the beneficiaries.
Stevenson was promoted to Assistant Surgeon General with the rank of Rear Admiral in 1966 to serve as the fourth Chief Engineer of the PHS, a post he held until 1971. As chief engineer, he carried out a variety leadership tasks including global assignments in Viet Nam, India, Mexico, France, and Japan. Additionally in 1969 he became the Associate Administrator of The Consumer Protection and Environmental Health Service. He retired in 1971 after 30 years of service as a PHS Commissioned Officer.
Upon his retirement from the PHS he rejoined Malcolm Pirnie Engineers as Vice President for International Operations which had him involved in major environmental engineering projects in Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait. He retired once more in 1984 to work as an independent consulting engineer.
RADM Stevenson recently reported that his travels have taken him to all six continents including 126 countries, territories, and Antarctic bases. He still avidly pursues interests in current domestic and foreign affairs, duplicate bridge, competitive croquet, and dancing. Most importantly, he maintains frequent contact with his three children and other close relatives covering four generations.
During his career, RADM Stevenson served as President of the Commissioned Officers Association, President of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, and on a variety of Governmental Global and Domestic Councils and Commissions including the US - Japan Water Control Panel. His many honors include the award of the PHS Meritorious Service Medal and his induction into the Blackfeet Tribe as an Honorary Chief. He has also been elected as a member of the prestigious Explorers Club and has been listed in Who’s Who in America.
3 March 2008