The roofing industry is saddened by the loss of Rene Dupuis, who passed away on May 23. Dupuis was known for his sharp mind and insightful contributions and research into the industry.

Dupuis, 77, founded Structural Research Inc. in Middleton, Wis. in 1978. He quickly became known for his problem-solving skills and was renowned as a designer and researcher worldwide. He provided research, education and expertise to thousands with more than 100 published works and hundreds of technical presentations. 

"Rene was a mentor and friend. But even more, Rene was a great advocate of the roofing industry, where so many of us work and thrive," said Randy Adams, chairman and CEO of R. Adams Roofing Inc. in Indianapolis. "His keen mind, and wit built relationships here in the U.S.A. and internationally. The roofing industry was the benefactor of his work, and he will be greatly missed."

Dupuis was raised on a farm near Mosinee, Wis. He graduated from Mosinee High School in 1960 before serving his country with the U.S. Navy, participating in the Cuban Missile Crisis Blockade. In 1964, he married his high school sweetheart, Rita Mijal.

They moved to Madison, Wis., where Dupuis would obtain his engineering education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison; a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering (1967), Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (1968), a Master of Science in Civil Engineering (1969) and a doctorate in Civil Engineering (1973). After teaching engineering for a short period at State University of New York, he moved into private engineering practice.

Dupuis carved a path into the roofing industry not only with his keen mind, but also his professionalism. He was considered a consummate gentleman who always extended courtesies to all in the roofing industry, whether they were longtime veterans or a new member to the roofing community.

Glenn Langer, chairman of Langer Roofing and Sheet Metal in Milwaukee, recalled working with Dupuis since the '70s, and admired Dupuis' willingness to work both on and off the roof in order to better understand the industry.

"He had the background in order to understand the technical portion of the roofing industry, but he was really a roofer's advocate, he brought the technical side down to where most of us roofers could understand it, and to me that was the sign of a good technical individual," said Langer. "I'm much older than Rene is, but I respected him and the fact that he could bring himself down to the level of the average roofing contractor."

Outside of his work, Dupuis was a soccer coach for his children and served on the Middleton City Council for 10 years as the alderman for his district in the 1980s. He was also an avid pilot, and for many years enjoyed flying himself to various places for his engineering work. He became a doting grandfather in 2004 and life was never quite the same for him. He had a new purpose, to teach and watch over his grandchildren with as much or more love and intensity than he had his children.

Dupuis is survived by his daughter, two sons, two grandchildren, a brother and sister, and numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. Following his passing, the Dupuis family has opened a scholarship fund at the University of Wisconsin – Department of Civil Engineering in his name. The scholarship will be an endowment to maintain the scholarship for as long as the department exists.

A memorial mass will be held at St. Bernard Catholic Church, Middleton, on June 13. Memorials may be made to The Rene M Dupuis Scholarship in Civil Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Civil Engineering.