About Richmond Chapter

Special Member Recognition

Among the local companies that are active today many were founded by Early Richmond Chapter ASHRAE members. Catlett-Johnson (now EMC Company) - Richard H. Catlett and J. Morley Johnson Frank Howell Company (Manufacturer's Representative) - Frank F. Howell Air Conditioning Suppliers Inc. (HVAC Parts Distributor) - Founder Garland B. Alexander Simmons, Rockecharlie, and Prince, Inc. (Consulting Engineers) - Emmett L. Simmons and Thomas A Rockecharlie It should be noted that nine of the Richmond Chapter past presidents have worked for Catlett-Johnson Corporation (EMC) during their career and six were actively working for the firm during their year as president. In addition, five of the Richmond Chapter past presidents worked for Simmons, Rockecharlie, and Prince, Inc during their year as president. Throughout the years the Richmond Chapter has had many dedicated individuals, however a few have accepted the challenge and responsibility to serve beyond the Chapter level. Therefore, we are proud to recognize the following individuals who have served on the Regional level: Frederick J. Weiss - Region III Chairman from 1967 to 1970 James R. Bruce - Region III Vice Chairman for Research from 1981 to 1983 Herbert F. White - Region III Vice Chairman for Membership from 1987 to 1990 Thomas A Rockecharlie, II - Regional Historian from 2002 to 2003 Jaipeed Karnik - Region III Vice Chair 2015-2018 Christopher E. DeSoto - Region III Vice Chairman for Research Promotion 2018-2021 The history of our Chapter could not be completed without recognizing a very special individual, George C. Nash. George joined ASRE in 1946 while living in Baltimore and moved to Richmond in 1952. Over the years, he has served in many capacities but most importantly he has always brought a warm and friendly smile to every meeting and many a laugh to our special events. In December 1988, the Chapter established the George C. Nash Service Award. Recipients of the Award to date are Louis H. Hite, James R. Bruce, Edwin L. Bell, Jr. and Catlett-Johnson Corporation (EMC).

Chapter History

The Richmond Section was chartered on June 10th, 1940 as a section of ASRE (American Society of Refrigeration Engineers) to satisfy the need to pool knowledge in air conditioning and refrigeration. This young organization was first started with twenty charter members and the territory included the entire state of Virginia. It should be noted that in the early years we were classified as a Section in lieu of a Chapter and that there was no President, but rather a Chairman. During 1959 a proposal was made by national headquarters that the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers merge with the Society of Heating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. This seemed to be the most logical action to be taken, as most of the work of the two societies was closely interwoven. A referendum was taken of all the members of both societies and in 1960 the present American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers was brought into being in Richmond. At this point, the Richmond Section was expanded to cover a portion of West Virginia in addition to the state of Virginia. The early members probably did not realize the impact that their efforts would have on their industry and/or on their community both collectively as well as individually. Not only were they instrumental in setting a standard of excellence which would carry on to future generations, but many were the founders of firms which still strive today to meet the challenges of our growing and changing industry.

Supporting ASHRAE

Over the years, the Richmond Chapter has hosted several Chapter Regional Conferences (CRC's). The 1979 CRC was held in Williamsburg and chaired by Samuel M. Carmack, Jr. It is still talked about by many of the guest Chapter members. In the 1990 CRC was chaired by John C. Hildebrand, III and was an overwhelming success enjoyed by all of the guest Chapters as well as the Society President, A. Damon Gowen. An added highlight for this conference was our very own animated talking bear, which was created by Donald L. West and donated by Kings Dominion. The bear greeted all of our guests at the registration desk and gave an abbreviated overview of ASHRAE, as well as the itinerary for the convention. The 2002 CRC was chaired by John Castelvecchi. The event was held downtown along the banks of the newly restored canal system. The Welcome Reception featured a cruise along the James River aboard the Annabel Lee Riverboat.


Based on membership size, the Richmond Chapter falls right in the middle as compared to Chapters society wide. Since the early days, our members have realized the importance of comradery and fellowship. Monthly meetings have been held by the Chapter since the beginning. In the late 90s' due to tax laws, which changed how people could handle expense accounts, it had been noted that attendance had been dropping steadily. The biggest reason given for people not attending meetings was that they did not have time for the night meetings since they had so many things going on at home. For this reason, The Chapter decided to begin holding monthly meetings at lunch instead of at dinner. The lunch meeting proved to be more economical and convenient for the members than the dinner meetings. The Richmond Chapter was the first in the Region if not Society to switch to this format. Attendance has generally averaged 40 people each month since then. In 1958 we held our first annual June Golf outing at the Par 3 Golf Course, which served as a time to relax and reflect over our accomplishments for the past year. This event was stepped up to the Half Sink Golf Course (now the Crossings) in 1983 thanks to the efforts of the Special Events Chairman, Louis H. Hite and to date this event is one of the most well attended outings for industry in our area. Louis H. Hite also founded our first annual BBQ Festival, which was held to raise funds for our Frederick J Weiss Scholarship Fund. This event has enabled our Scholarship Fund to be self-supporting and remains our top fundraiser. Louis Hite continues to serve the chapter as Chairman of Special Events such as Winter fest, the Annual Golf Tournament, and the BBQ Festival. Our Ladies Night in January has been a special event over the years with couples braving even the worst weather conditions for an evening of pleasure. However, with the emergence of women into the engineering field, we have changed the name of the event to 'Winter Fest' in recent years. It should be noted that Margaret S. Drake was the first woman member of the Richmond Chapter.

Supporting Education

Recognizing the need to support the future members of our chapter, The Richmond Chapter founded the Frederick J. Weiss memorial Scholarship. In 1998 the Chapter lost its Secretary when Robert 'Bobby' Blue died unexpectedly. The Chapter immediately established a second scholarship in his honor. Through this effort, the Chapter has been rewarded two fold as many of the program's recipients are now active in our industry. Three of the past winners are Terrence W. Kerner, George R. Souleret and Margie S. Underwood who have served as Committee chairpersons. In 1981 the University of Virginia Student Chapter was chartered under the leadership of our then Education chairman, Oscar T. Walker and in conjunction with our faculty liaison Dr. James Taylor Beard. The student Chapter remains active and normally joins us for a minimum of one meeting per year depending on curriculum schedules. Recently, with opening of an Engineering school at Virginia Commonwealth University, the chapter has been working with the college to charter a VCU chapter as well.


The Society established the Presidential Award of Excellence in 1970 as a barometer of Chapter performance and an incentive to improve performance. The Richmond Chapter under the leadership of James R. Bruce received this award for the first time in 1978-79 and has received the award every year since with only one exception. John Castelvecchi received the 'Top Dawg' Regional Award for Research Promotion in 2001. James Willis repeated this feat in 2011. Dr. Taylor Beard was recognized by Society in 2001 for serving as the Faculty Advisor for the UVA Student Section since its inception in 1981. He was one of only a handful of Advisors in the country to receive this award for continuous service.

Technical Training and Development

In the tradition of keeping abreast of the newest technology, The Richmond Chapter has sponsored many seminars over the years. Few have been received and attended more positively than when Robert S Spratley coordinated the 'Applications of Heat Pumps' which was held at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) and attended by 873 during the 1962 year. Some of our other Seminars were 'Heating and Cooling of Metropolitan Areas Utilizing Water Systems' in 1963 and 'Energy Conservation by Gas Cooling' in 1989. When the Chapter eliminated the technical session held before each monthly meeting, when it changed to a luncheon format, it opted to hold a fall and spring seminar outside of the regularly scheduled meetings. The seminars are a half-day long and topics have ranged from Laboratory Ventilation Design, to Control Systems, to Air Distribution Design. Holding the technical seminars outside of the monthly meetings allows the Chapter to hold a lunch meeting that includes a speaker and still be done in about 90 minutes. We are also very proud of our accomplishments in the area of Research Promotion where we have continued to raise higher levels of funds over the years with a new high five total of $18,165 being reached in 1990-91 by the Co-Chairman, Thornton Clary and Bruce Tibbetts. This reflects the level of dedication and commitment of our membership and the industry within our area. The Chapter owes a special note of appreciation to our major contributors: Philip Morris, Virginia Power, Reynolds Metals, Air Conditioning Equipment Sales, and the Richmond Chapter itself. Once a year we have a field trip, which gives us the opportunity to tour various facilities, and/or interesting HVAC & R related projects. One of our highlights was the tour of the Best Products thermal storage facility in 1987 which was one of the first such systems on the East Coast. John C. Harmon who has attained international recognition in the area of thermal cold storage designed this project. In recent years the Annual Chapter field trips have included visits to The Richmond Coliseum Ice Making Plant, The VCU School of Engineering, Whitehall-Robins, Memorial Regional Medical Center in Hanover County, and the Supervalu Food Distribution Warehouse in Mechanicsville. At present, the Richmond Chapter's fiscal year includes seven technical meetings. Out of all the programs presented over the years, the most well attended regular meeting was in September 1980. John C. Hildebrand, III, Program Chairman, scheduled the presentation of the first major nuclear power accident. This had occurred the prior year at 'Three Mile Island Nuclear Facility' located in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
ASHRAE and certain product names/logos/images used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of ASHRAE and/or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates in the U.S. and/or other countries 2021. This Website Is Maintained By The Richmond, Virginia Chapter Of ASHRAE. It Does Not Present Official Positions Of The Society Nor Reflect Society Policy. ASHRAE Chapters May Not Act For The Society And The Information Presented Here Has Not Had Society Review. To learn more about ASHRAE activities on an international level, contact the ASHRAE home page at http://ashrae.org. Website last updated July of 2022
Website Last Revised August 25, 2022