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Construction executive and founding ABC member Westra dies at 92

Dewey Westra, a longtime construction executive and a founding member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin has died. He was 92.

Westra founded Westra Construction in the late 1940s with his father. The company grew to become a large general contractor, ranking seventh among Wisconsin general contractors for its total revenue by the time Westra retired in 1991. Westra Construction went out of business in 2005. The Westra family founded another company, Beaver Dam-based WDS Construction, which is still operating.

Outside his position at the firm, Westra was a founding member of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ Wisconsin chapter. Westra was one of five directors listed on the trade group’s charter when it was founded in Wisconsin in 1972. He would go on to serve as ABC of Wisconsin’s president in 1980 and 1981. Westra also served on ABC’s national board of directors between 1979 and 1982.

In 1984, Westra was the first recipient of ABC of Wisconsin’s Wes Meilahn award, an honor named for another founding member of the trade group. Westra also represented the construction industry as an ambassador to China as part of the People to People program.

John Mielke, ABC of Wisconsin’s current president, said Westra led the trade group’s initial efforts to offer continuing education and training — a big component of ABC’s work today.

“He was literally a founding father to our organization. He was the first treasurer,” Mielke said . “We owe a debt of gratitude to Dewey’s efforts.”

Outside his work, Westra was a member of the Gideons, and for 20 years distributed bibles in Ethiopia and volunteered for a bible-translating service in Arizona, among other things.

About Nate Beck, [email protected]

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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