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Obituary: Ralph J. "Whitie" Hubert

Ralph J. "Whitie" Hubert, 83, founder and chairman of Gaithersburg, Md.-based Hubert Construction LLC and co-owner of Tarara Winery LLC, died at his home in Leesburg April 7, 2008. He had prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease.

Hubert was born in Avon Lake, Ohio, in 1924 and was raised on a fruit farm that included a vineyard. He attended college at Bowling Green University before joining the Marines during War World II. Following his military service, during which he participated in several Pacific amphibious landings, he attended John Carroll University for a year before transferring to Catholic University, where he was a wrestling champion and the university football team quarterback. It was there that he received his nickname "Whitie" from a football coach who had trouble remembering his name and identified him by his light blond hair.

Between his junior and senior years of college, Hubert took a bicycle trip from Paris over the Alps to Rome. Returning to the U.S. in 1949, he met his future wife, Margaret, on the English Channel. He graduated Catholic University with an architectural engineering degree in 1950 and married Margaret in 1951 in Washington, D.C.

With just $1,000 in start-up capital in 1959, following the birth of his fifth child, he founded Glen Construction Co. Inc. with then-partner Frank Darcey. In 1969, he bought out his partner. For several years, Glen was included in Engineering News Record's list of the top 100 contractors in the nation.

By the 1980s, Glen was building more than 2 million square feet of commercial space per year, including many of the area's landmark buildings such as the J.T.L. Tycon Towers office building in Tysons Corner and the Radisson Mark Plaza in Alexandria. During this time, Hubert served as president of the Metropolitan Washington Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and was national president and fellow of the American Institute of Constructors. In the late 1990s, Hubert reduced his involvement in Glen Construction and sold his interest to his son, Michael Hubert. In 1998, realizing that he missed working in the construction industry, Hubert founded Hubert Construction LLC. In 2002, he won the D.C. Metropolitan Subcontractors' Association Pinnacle Award for lifetime achievement in the building and construction industry.

Like many World War II veterans, Hubert developed an interest in flying. He received his pilot's license and owned several airplanes, one of which met its' demise in a crash landing. Hubert managed to walk away from that crash and from multiple other moving vehicle incidents, some of which he left while the vehicles were on fire.

In 1985, Hubert and his wife, Margaret, bought a 475-acre farm on the Potomac River in Loudoun County and named it Tarara. There they built a home and winery, planting 50 acres of grapes, fruit trees and nursery stock. They opened Tarara's tasting room in 1989. Hubert was actively involved with the Virginia Wineries Association, encouraging state support of Virginia's nascent wine industry, which is now the nation's fifth largest.

Hubert is survived by his wife of 56 years, Margaret, five children: Karen Harvell of Atlanta, Ga.; Martha Hubert of San Francisco, Calif.; Steven Hubert of Bethesda, Md.; Janet DuBois of Minneapolis, Minn.; and Michael Hubert of Gaithersburg, Md.; and nine grandchildren: Andrea, Daniella, Casey, Jaime, Andrew, Melanie, Peter, Richard, and Erica. He was predeceased by his grandson Neil.