As we celebrate our 85th year in business, let’s take a moment to reflect on our beginnings and where we started. George J. Schaumburg wasn’t just the founder of Schaumburg & Polk, Inc., he was a man with deep-rooted ties to the community and of great service to our country. First, as a leader of a Civilian Conservation Corp unit at Tyrrell Park in Beaumont, then as acting Corps Engineer of the XIX Army Corps where he personally supervised the preparation for the Normandy Invasion during World War II. Later, he served the City of Beaumont and held various community positions.
George J. Schaumburg was born in 1909 in Reading, PA. He attended Lehigh University at Bethlehem and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1931. While at Lehigh, he was president of the student chapter of the Lehigh Valley Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was also a member of Tau Beta Pi honorary engineering fraternity, and Cadet Colonel of ROTC where he graduated with highest military honors. After graduation, he moved to Port Arthur, TX to work for the Texas Company, later called Texaco, while serving as an Army Reserve Officer.
In April of 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt created new legislation known as the New Deal. Part of this deal included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment to combat the Great Depression. About 3000 camps were established across the United States with 96 located in Texas, including Beaumont. More than 50,000 CCC enrollees served in Texas. They worked six days a week under National Park Service and Army supervision. The CCC constructed parks from the ground up across the state, creating the Texas State Park system.
As an Army Reserve Officer, Schaumburg was tasked with leading military supervision of the unit at Tyrell Park unit in Beaumont. Under Schaumburg’s supervision, the company performed many environmental projects and manual labor projects when operations first began on November 24, 1935. Some of the most notable accomplishments include the Henry Homberg Golf Course, the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, and Tyrrell Park Horse Stables.
Under the military structure led by Mr. Schaumburg, the CCC began the grueling efforts to create the park. The lack of technology and supplies led to improvisations such as, creating a makeshift frame around a flatbed truck in order to collect, transport, and deposit road building materials. With only shovels and rakes, it is hard to imagine the amount of labor hours required to collect materials and build a road.
In 1937 he established the firm George J. Schaumburg, Consulting Engineers which practiced civil, mechanical, structural, architectural, and railroad engineering for private, municipal, and industrial clients.
In 1942 George Schaumburg returned to active duty to use his engineering expertise during World War II, serving as Executive Officer and Acting Corps Engineer of the XIX Army Corps. He personally supervised the preparation of the Normandy Invasion engineer plans for the XIX Corps, First United States Army, including the planning of engineering and supplies for the support of over 200,000 troops.
He was also involved on Omaha Beach on D-Day plus Four, planning and organizing the construction of bridges and the conversion of country roads into six 800-mile military highways extending from Omaha Beach, through Belgium and Holland, to the Elbe River in Germany. “When we decided on Omaha and Utah beaches, it was my duty to figure how many troops, equipment, explosives and materials we would need to build bridges and roads for the invasion forces.”, he told The Enterprise in June of 1984.
Later in the war, Schaumburg’s men were responsible for rebuilding the Maas River bridge coursing through northwest Europe. The bridge, which had one span of 200 feet, was the longest built during World War II.
Mr. Schaumburg retired from active duty in 1945 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Bronze Star and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm decorations.
He returned to work as a City Engineer for Beaumont before resuming his consulting engineering practice in 1947, which provided civil engineering services in the Southeast Texas area. According to his daughter-in-law, Ann, “he planned most of the west end of Beaumont and Orange”. Mr. Schaumburg retired in 1973, when the company reorganized under it’s new name, Schaumburg & Polk, Inc. He continued to stay active in the company even after retirement. Mr. Schaumburg passed away in 2008 at the age of 98.
Mr. Schaumburg was committed to serving his community and staying active in professional organizations. He was a Fellow and Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a past President of the Southeast Branch of the Texas Section. He was active in organizing the Student Chapter of the Southeast Branch at Lamar University, Beaumont Texas.
He was active on various committees of the Texas Section including the committee charged with updating the ASCE Texas Section Standard Forms of Agreement between Owner and Contractor. Mr. Schaumburg was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, past chairman and member of the Consulting Engineers Section of the Texas Society Professional Engineers, and American Society of Military Engineers.
Mr. Schaumburg was very active in the Rotary Club of Beaumont and after fifty years of service was made a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. He was also a founding director of Gateway National Bank of Beaumont now a branch of Capitol One. He was a member of the Trinity-Neches Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Executive Board Member of the Community Chest (now the United Way) serving as Budget and Admissions Committee Chairman and Vice President. Mr. Schaumburg has been listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in Engineering, Men of Achievement in Texas and The Texas Gulf Coast: its History and Development.