Alumnus Richard Pepper Passes Away

Pepper was a renowned leader in the construction industry and a longtime benefactor to Northwestern

Northwestern Engineering alumnus Richard Pepper ’53, a renowned leader in the construction industry as an executive at Pepper Construction and a longtime benefactor to Northwestern University, passed away on January 28, 2021, at age 90.

Pepper, who graduated from the McCormick School of Engineering with a degree in civil engineering in 1953, assumed leadership of Pepper Construction from his father in 1957. Together with his wife, Roxelyn (Roxy) ’53, Richard grew the company into a nationally recognized construction firm with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion. The company is headquartered in Chicago and operates offices in Indianapolis, Columbus, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Barrington, Illinois.

The Peppers, who met and married as undergraduate students, were longtime volunteers and benefactors of Northwestern University. They made several contributions to Northwestern Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, including helping launch the department’s master’s program in Executive Management and Design Construction, where members of Pepper Construction have taught as adjunct faculty. They also endowed several research labs to support education and innovation in the field. In recognition of their support, Northwestern dedicated the department’s wing in the Technological Institute in honor of the couple’s Pepper Family Foundation.

In 2020, the Peppers endowed the chair position within the civil and environmental engineering department.

Roxelyn and Richard Pepper outside the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.“My colleagues and I in civil and environmental engineering are deeply sadden by the news of Richard Pepper’s passing. Richard and Roxy have made many contributions to the department, which we’re reminded of daily when we walk through the A-Wing in Tech named after them,” said Kimberly Gray, professor and Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Family Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering. “I am also extremely grateful to be the inaugural recipient of the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Family Chair. All the future holders of this endowed chair will celebrate Richard’s memory.”

The Barrington, Illinois, based couple’s other gifts to the University include support for Northwestern’s baseball stadium, Rocky and Berenice Miller Park, and for the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders. In 2001, the University jointly awarded the Peppers Northwestern’s Alumni Medal, the highest honor awarded to University alumni.

Read more about Richard Pepper, including opportunities to pay tribute, at the Pepper Construction website.

McCormick News Article