Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Grandfather Appears to Have Died Yesterday

An article from today's St. Louis Post Dispatch.  I will write a remembrance when more information arises, and the shock has worn off.

I.E. Millstone missing; man seen jumping from bridge

I.E. Millstone, the philanthropist and construction icon, went missing on Saturday, family members said.

Millstone, of Ladue, who is considered the unofficial patriarch of the St. Louis Jewish community, is 102 years old.

Cpl. Al Nothrum, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol, said a witness reported seeing an elderly man jumping off the Daniel Boone Bridge into the Missouri River about 1:15 p.m. Saturday. Nothrum said police searched the river — at times using helicopters — to no avail.

Cpl. Lou Amighetti, a spokesman for the Missouri Water Patrol, said the search was called off at 6 p.m. Saturday. It will resume Sunday, he said. 

"It's standard procedure to call off a search after so many hours," Amighetti said. "We will be back out there into next week using sonar and other technology."

Amighetti said the high water along the swollen Missouri River complicated the search. 

A Millstone relative said Saturday that the family had been in contact with authorities. 

Beth Millstone Roman, a niece of I.E. Millstone, said in a statement: "I.E. Millstone is extremely loved by his family. We are not sure what is happening. We are still hoping for the best."

I.E. Millstone's construction company built dozens of St. Louis landmarks: the "Meeting of the Waters" fountain in front of Union Station, the double-decker Highway 40 (Interstate 64) through downtown, Northwest Plaza and the Busch Stadium that opened in 1966.

Millstone spoke on May 3 at the grand opening of the Staenberg Family Complex at the Jewish Community Center, near Creve Coeur. 

"He was one of about 10 speakers, and the only speaker who spoke without notes," said Rabbi Howard Kaplansky of United Hebrew Congregation in Chesterfield, where Millstone was a member.

Kaplansky, who has known Millstone since 1971, said Millstone appeared healthy and upbeat at the event.

"He was very cogent; people were riveted." 

Millstone's old company, now Millstone Bangert, based in St. Charles, is part of the construction team that is rebuilding Highway 40. The company did not build either span of the Boone Bridge.

Kaplansky said Millstone's construction reach was international. "World leaders sought his counsel," Kaplansky said. "Golda Meir (the former prime minister of Israel) brought him to Israel to consult on public housing."

Len Toenjes, president of Associated of General Contractors of St. Louis, said Saturday that Millstone's impact here was big. In November, the group, along with KMOX Radio, presented Millstone with the Keystone Heritage Award to celebrate his contributions to construction.

"He was just a creative guy," Toenjes recalled. He specifically recalled Millstone's pride in his work on Busch Stadium. Toenjes interviewed him about the project for a column he wrote in an industry publication in the mid-1990s. Millstone was not long into the story when he pulled out the original contract from the project, Toenjes said.

"He had the perfect blend of the toughness and intelligence you need to be successful in the construction industry — and the intelligence to be always be a gentleman," Toenjes said. "If indeed he's gone, it's not just a loss to the construction industry, it's a loss to the fabric of St. Louis."

Millstone's first wife, Goldie; his second wife, Helen; and both of his two children are deceased. 


Signore Direttore said...

When a man is as indominable as your grandfather, it's really hard to offer condolences. It seems he remained in firm control until the end. He inspires awe more than mourning. What a mensch.

Laura Fenn said...

I remember you talking about your grandfather with a such sense of awe, and he sounded like an incredible inspiration.

I saw this news on another site and thought I'd come here to offer my condolences. Wishing you and your family strength through this trying time.