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Donald Frank Rees passed away on April 18 at the age of 91. An acclaimed engineer and businessperson, Rees was a pioneer of the trenchless industry for his many innovative engineering achievements.
After serving in WWII, Rees joined his father’s road surfacing business. Not long after, he expanded the business by taking public works underground as well as at street level. Under his guidance, the company developed innovative methods of restoring old, and in some cases bomb-damaged, sewage systems. Traditional repair techniques were used to dig up roads, causing delay and disruption. So Rees and his colleagues developed ‘No-Dig’ tunneling techniques based on the Rees Mini-Tunnel. They also pioneered the use of close circuit television cameras in subterranean investigations. As a leader in its field, the company’s services and products were sought after not only across the UK and the Channel Islands, but in the United States, South America and Southeast Asia.
As one of the people responsible for coining the word “No-Dig”, Rees helped found the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT). He worked to establish the ISTT’s future, serving as an ISTT Guarantor for nearly 20 years, submitting thought-provoking contributions long after retiring to Portugal.
Rees served as a liveryman and later Master of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, a Fellow of the Institution of Public Health Engineers and a Companion of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has garnered several industrial awards, including Design Council Awards for the Mini-Tunnel and CCTV Camera System, the Queen´s Award for Industry and an OBE for his services to British exports.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Mary. His six sons and their families survive Reese, including 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.