Ralph J. D’Amato, Jr., ASLA
Department of Veteran Affairs National Cemeteries (retired), Rockville, MD
Nomination in Leadership/Management by the Potomac Chapter
For almost sixty years, Ralph D’Amato has focused on cemetery master planning, detailed grave layout, landscape architecture, and engineering for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries and for private and religious cemeteries throughout the country. His career was unparalleled as a management and design influencer and innovator in the national and private-sector advancement of cemetery planning, design, and construction. In 1963 Ralph changed the equation significantly by convincing VA leadership to have landscape architects as the prime contractors on large cemetery design projects and to be included in and have a strong say in every cemetery design team where smaller site work was involved. Ralph also persuaded the VA leadership to take up several major technological improvements which were more economical in their land use; to permit the organization of memorial sites and concentration of remembrance and related facilities; to adopt the use of vaults for placement of caskets; and to pioneer the use of treated wastewater effluent for irrigation (in 1998), at the time a very unusual practice. He continues to advance landscape architecture by leading interdisciplinary project teams, while generously mentoring emerging professionals on cemetery planning and design, as he has done throughout his long and distinguished career.