LEWES – Jeffrey Bross, the former president of local engineering firm Duffield Associates and a leading expert in his field who worked on many notable Delaware projects, died unexpectedly Aug. 16. He was 76.
[caption id="attachment_233023" align="alignleft" width="197"] Jeff Bross | PHOTO COURTESY OF DUFFIELD ASSOCIATES[/caption]
Though born in Washington, D.C., Bross grew up in Wilmington, graduating from Dickinson High School and the University of Delaware. His engineering career began at Edward H. Richardson Associates in Newark, but he later moved to Omaha, Neb., where he became the city’s engineer. He returned to the First State in 1980 when he joined Duffield, becoming a partner and then president and chairman of the firm’s board, leading it to significant growth.Duffield was acquired by national engineering firm Verdantas in 2021, but Bross continued to serve the new firm as a senior consultant until his passing.Guy Marcozzi, a longtime friend, colleague and successor at the helm of Duffield, described Bross as “a positive thinker, who was enthusiastic and extremely bright.”“He was not only smart technically with math, but he was great with words. He had a great knack of explaining complicated things to different audiences,” he told Delaware Business Times.Verdantas Vice President Deirdre Smith, who also worked with Bross for many years at Duffield, said that she was “grateful to have called Jeff a colleague, mentor, partner, and friend.”“Jeff was a leader in the engineering community who served our profession, the business community, and our broader community in Delaware with extraordinary passion and commitment for over 40 years and will be dearly missed. He was highly regarded as a thoughtful, practical, and collaborative problem-solver, someone the business and regulatory communities turned to for guidance and solutions to the state’s most important engineering challenges,” she said.Marian Young, a co-founder and president of competing environmental consulting and remediation firm BrightFields, recalled that Bross was an early supporter of her and co-founder Mark Lannan when they sought to form their firm 20 years ago. They wanted to acquire their former employer WIK Associates, but needed to find financial backing and he offered to back them if they ultimately didn't find the money. It was indicative of the kind of person Bross was, she said.
"Knowing that Jeff was willing to fund us if something went wrong just gave us that backstop," she recalled. "We went on to compete I think pretty strongly with him and Duffield, but he never in any way treated me like a rival. He was always just such a collaborative person and such a smart guy who was a problem-solver."
Among Bross’ career achievements was being selected Delaware's Engineer of the Year in 2006 by the Delaware Council of Engineering Societies and receiving the distinguished Samuel S. Baxter Memorial Award in 2010 from the Water Resource Association of the Delaware River Basin.He was the principal-in-charge for many of the largest economic development projects in Delaware over the past few decades, including the University of Delaware STAR Campus, Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium, the Port of Wilmington, AstraZeneca’s Fairfax expansion, Agilent Technologies’ Little Falls office campus, the former Wilmington Trust operations center, Fort DuPont’s redevelopment, and many more.“There’s no question that Jeff was the bridge between clients articulating their goals and him turning it into the practical steps to get there, and then working with the public and the regulatory process to thread the needle,” Marcozzi said. “I think he's the best ever in Delaware. People before him didn't have to navigate this complex process.”
[caption id="attachment_207589" align="alignright" width="300"] Duffield Associates, headquartered off Limestone Road in Pike Creek, merged with other engineering firms to create a national firm. Verdantas. | DBT FILE PHOTO[/caption]
Marcozzi credited Bross with the vision to grow Duffield Associates from a mid-sized geotechnical engineering firm into the largest engineering firm in Delaware at the time of its acquisition. Under his leadership, the Pike Creek-based firm added civil engineering, regulatory consultancy and environmental compliance services.“Those were all Jeff’s ideas. So, he helped us expand our services to match what our clients were looking for,” he added.Outside of the office, Bross volunteered for a number of causes, including serving as chair of the Delaware Clean Water Advisory Council, chair of the Delaware EPSCoR State Committee, chair of the National American Council of Engineering Companies, and as president of the Committee of 100.At the time of his passing, Bross was serving as a board member of the Wilmington nonprofit Faithful Friends Animal Society (FFAS), which operates a no-kill animal shelter and a community veterinary clinic.“His dedication to our cause and unwavering support for our animal friends at Faithful Friends Animal Society has left an indelible mark on our organization. Jeff was also co-chair of our Building Compassion Capital Campaign which brought us our recently completed state-of-the-art animal shelter,” said Jane Pierantozzi, executive director of the FFAS, in a statement. “As we mourn the loss of our dear friend, let us also celebrate the incredible impact he had on the lives of both animals and humans. His memory will forever remain in our hearts and the wagging tails, and happy purrs.”Bross is survived by his wife, Ann; three children, and six grandchildren, among others.
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