Levin’s firm worked on major local buildings


Eugene D. (Gene) Levin, longtime president of the West St. Louis Glass Company, which installed glass at scores of major St. Louis buildings of all kinds, and widely praised for his kindness and people skills as an employer, family man and friend, died Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, after what his wife Carole described as a “valiant battle with lung cancer.” He was 70 and a resident of Creve Coeur.

Mr. Levin and his brother Arnold Levin took over the operation of the West St. Louis Glass Company, which had been founded by their late father, Max Levin. Mr. Eugene Levin had started working at the company while still in college; he became president of the firm in 1971, and retired in 2007.

The West St. Louis Glass Company was widely praised in the construction industry for the variety and quality of its work. Among the many iconic buildings in which the St. Louis Glass Company installed glass are: the Missouri Historical Society (Jefferson Memorial) — the atrium, with 16-foot glass walls, and the entire back of the Missouri History Museum; One City Center in downtown St. Louis; the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries-Emerson Center; the new downtown Westin Hotel; the St. Louis Zoo, including the glass protecting the penguin area; the Boathouse in Forest Park; the St. Louis Science Center — with the glass walkway which spans across I-64/Highway 40.

Mr. Levin and his company installed the glass entrance and doors to the Stiffman Sanctuary at Congregation Shaare Emeth. When one of the famous stained glass panels installed by the world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly was broken, the replacement glass was installed by Mr. Levin’s company.

Noni Hessler, a glazier who had worked for Mr. Levin said, “Gene was known for the high quality of his work. If you worked for Gene Levin, you did quality work; you learned it from him.”

Eugene David Levin was born in St. Louis on April 12, 1939, the son of the late Max and the late Ruth Levin. He was a graduate of University City Senior High School, where he was a member of the varsity football team under the legendary Coach Clarence Muhl. He earned a bachelor of science in business administration from the Washington University School of Business in 1961.

Mr. Levin married the former Carole Cohen on May 18, 1980. The Levins had two children, a son, Daniel M. Levin and a daughter, Melissa “Lissie” Levin.

Funeral services for Mr. Levin were held last Tuesday at Congregation Shaare Emeth, where Rabbi Jeffrey B. Stiffman, Emeritus, along with Rabbi Jim Bennett and Cantor Seth Warner officiated.

In his remarks, Rabbi Stiffman noted Mr. Levin’s having “fought so hard against a very mean disease.” Rabbi Bennett recalled that Mr. Levin had met his wife at Dierberg’s.

“Gene remembered Carole from high school, and went home to announce his intention to marry her. When Daniel and Melissa arrived, the family was complete. . . Gene always demanded of others what he demanded of himself. He was a passionate sports fan and loved good food and new restaurants, and he loved his family and his life’s work at his business.”

In his remarks, Daniel Levin recalled his father as “a kind and gentle family man. He loved Mom and Lissie and me with all his heart. He never missed one of my football or Lissie’s lacrosse games; he came to every school performance or show.”

He also recalled his father’s love of the West St. Louis Glass Company. “Way back when I was in the third grade, we had a science project. I forget the details, but we had to put materials in a shoebox and explain what they were and how they were used. I chose glass. I went with Dad to the shop to pick out the glass samples to put in the box. One piece stood out more than any other. Dad gave me a sample of Azure Light glass. It was blue and shiny and it came in a plastic box half filled with concrete. In the mind of an 8-year-old this thing was cooler than transformers, dinosaurs and space aliens combined. I learned so much about glass and the glazing business from that one project, I still remember most of it today.”

Burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Congregation Shaare Emeth, the Glaziers Apprenticeship Fund in Memory of Eugene Levin, 5016 Wilson, St. Louis, Mo. 63110, the American Lung Association, or the charity of the donor’s choice.