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Ohio Northern University honors distinguished engineering alumni

Mar 3, 2014

Ohio Northern University’s T.J. Smull College of Engineering honored Harold Marker and Jack Ridge with Distinguished Alumni Awards on Feb. 26.

Marker, who graduated from ONU in 1952 with a civil engineering degree, founded Thomas & Marker Construction Co. in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1965 after working for 12 years for a large commercial construction firm. He became the sole owner in 1983, and the company continues to grow with offices in Bellefontaine and Columbus.

With more than 100 associates, Thomas & Marker has earned a reputation for its ability to complete highly technical and complex projects. The company has constructed a number of projects at ONU, including the Freed Center for the Performing Arts, James F. Dicke Hall, and the King Horn Sports Center. Marker currently serves as chairman of the board, while three generations of the Marker family provide strong leadership for the business.

Marker’s community involvement includes serving as a long-standing trustee of the Sloan Industrial School, a member of the First United Methodist Church, former director of the Colonial Federal Savings and Loan, and past director of Quincy Castings Inc. He was recognized as the Kiwanis Citizen of the Year in 2007. Marker and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 62 years. They have three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

As an ONU student, Ridge, who graduated in 1960 with a degree in mechanical engineering, benefited from the personal attention he received from his professors. His engineering education, he says, taught him how to attack problems.

He began his career working in the aerospace and petroleum industries. He then opened his own engineering consulting firm in Findlay, Ohio, called Ridge & Associates. His interest in developing a job-costing program to improve his firm’s operations led him to partner with two other individuals to launch a software development company.

During its 20-year history, Solomon Software became one of the industry’s primary market leaders in accounting software, serving more than 60,000 businesses worldwide. Solomon eventually merged with Great Plains Software and was then acquired by Microsoft in 2001. After four years as an integral part of Microsoft Business Solutions, Solomon’s software development and technical support was outsourced by Microsoft to the newly created Plumbline Solutions in 2004. 

Today, Ridge serves on Plumbline’s board of directors. He also provides facilities consultation and oversees community outreach for Six Disciplines Corp. in Findlay. He shares his strong Christian faith with others through his volunteer work with Champions for Life prison ministry, Besor Ravine Ministry and student-led campus ministries.

Ridge and his wife, Judy, have two children, Jacquie and Jim, and seven grandchildren.

Established in 2010, The T.J. Smull College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes those who have distinguished themselves through outstanding personal qualities and significant contributions to his or her chosen field. To be eligible for the award, an individual must be a graduate of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering; be distinguished in his or her profession, business or other worthy endeavor; have received recognition from his or her contemporaries; have made a significant contributions benefiting his or her community, state, nation, the University or the college; and be a person of such integrity, stature and demonstrated ability that the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the college will take pride in and be inspired by his or her recognition.