June 20, 2019
In Memoriam: Leonard Kirberg
March 18, 1943 - June 19, 2019
Len Kirberg, civil engineer, innovative industry leader and past Chairman, CEO and President of Horner & Shifrin, Inc. from 1988 to 2004, passed away on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at the age of 76. Leading the fourth generation of company management, he was known for extensive revitalization and growth of the established firm. After employment with McDonnell Douglas Corporation from 1967 to 1968, he served 38 years of his professional career at Horner & Shifrin.
Leonard Carl Kirberg was born in St. Louis on March 18, 1943 to Karl and Lorraine Kirberg. From an early age, he loved to build things with his father. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and attended Lindbergh High School. Len then went on to the University of Missouri – Rolla (now Missouri University of Science & Technology), earning a BS in Civil Engineering in 1966, a Professional Development Degree in Engineering Management in 1978, and an Honorary Professional Degree in Civil Engineering in 1986. He was a Licensed Professional Engineer in Missouri and Illinois. By the peak of his career, he had expanded his creative achievements from model trains to Metrolink.
Len is remembered by his loving family, his clients, staff and professional colleagues alike as a steady hand at the helm, a resourceful team builder and an approachable, sympathetic leader. He made friends easily and tempered his relationships and decisions with calm analysis, practicality and a warm sense of humor. He counseled his staff and employees that the key to marketing professional services was to build relationships with clients as fellow human beings, and the work assignments would follow. He was a good listener, unassuming in manner and trusting of his colleagues and staff. Many measured Len’s success by his ability to encourage staff and help them to reach their full potential.
Surviving him are his wife of 52 years, Mary C. Kirberg (née Stolsek), his siblings Kent (Pat), Mary Ellen (Scott), Gary (Shari), Sue (Steve) and brothers-in-law Fred (Bev) and Frank, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Despite his wide-ranging responsibilities, Mr. Kirberg found time to take an active role in a number of technical, business and professional development organizations. He was President of the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis (1991-1992) and served on the board of directors and as chairman of several committees. He was President of the St. Louis Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (1984-1985), an organization that presented him with its Professional Recognition Award in 1988. He was President of the St. Louis Chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers (1981-1982), receiving awards as Young Engineer of the Year in 1976 and Engineer of the Year in 1992. He served as President of the Consulting Engineers Council (now American Council of Engineering Companies) of Missouri (1994-1995), an organization that named him New Principal of the Year in 1987. He also contributed his talents to the American Public Works Association, the Water Environment Federation, the Society of American Military Engineers, and the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers. For the 1996-1997 term, he was elected President of the Academy of Civil Engineers at the University of Missouri – Rolla.
In addition, he participated in many civic organizations, including St. Louis Ambassadors, St. Louis Counts and the Boy Scouts of America – St Louis, Circle Club, and the Downtown Rotary Club, where he served as President of Rotary’s Skyway Farm. A proud member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, which named him “Man of the Year” in 1965, he was involved in numerous charitable expansion and fundraising projects. He was particularly proud of a committee he chaired, which succeeded in raising more than $2,000,000 for the renovation of the Alpha Delta chapter fraternity house.
As a final gift, at Mr. Kirberg’s request, his body will be donated to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for the advancement of medical science.
When asked what the most significant thing was that attracted her to Len, Mary said simply, “It is his compassion, his ability to feel what another person is feeling.” Perhaps it is this quality, coupled with some good common sense and a lot of hard work over many years, that propelled Len Kirberg to the top, not only in his profession but in the opinion of those who know him. Mary concluded, “He was my best friend and soul mate.”
A memorial service will be held at a date to be announced.
Read the St. Louis Business Journal feature article from 2000 on Len’s contribution to the growth of Horner & Shifrin.
Read obituary details and sign guestbook from Schrader Funeral Home.