In Memory of Lew Brunner, Former AISC Vice President

Lewis (Lew) Brunner passed away peacefully at his home in Wheaton, Ill., surrounded by family and friends on September 14, 2015, at the age of 92. He was a recognized leader at AISC, joining the Institute in 1980 as its director of marketing and later becoming vice president of membership services. Prior to his retirement in 1995, he served briefly as director of meetings and conferences.

Brunner was born and raised in Hulmeville, Penn. He graduated from Pennsylvania Military College with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corp, stationed in Italy. His career began at U.S. Steel Corporation, where he held various management positions and was responsible for promoting their full range of products nationally to the construction industry.

Brunner joined AISC during a time of reinvention for the Institute. AISC had recently moved its headquarters to Chicago from New York City and grew from purely a technical institute into a broad-based, inclusive organization that championed its members’ needs with effective marketing, certification and education programs. As director of marketing, Brunner oversaw AISC’s expanding regional engineering staff and developed a long-term marketing plan to increase structural steel’s share in the marketplace before moving into the role of vice president of membership services.

“Lew taught me a lot about the steel industry and about AISC,” said Scott Melnick, who Brunner hired in 1989 as editor of Modern Steel Construction and who later became vice president of communications. “He was a great resource and liaison between the steel producers and the Institute. A lot of what AISC does today, including our membership activities and conference programs, is a direct outgrowth of programs he initiated.”

As vice president, one of Brunner’s great achievements was expanding AISC’s annual steel conference from a technical conference to a combined industry event that brought together designers and manufactures to share their expertise and exhibit their products. For the first time at the conference, engineers could be exposed to the tools used to realize their designs. As Brunner put it, “We had people designing things who never saw how you made them. The opportunity to walk through and talk to the people who made the machines really enhanced our ability to design things you could put together.” In 1992 he was named director of meetings and conferences and planned logistics for the conference up until his retirement.

Brunner enjoyed tennis, skiing, golf, travel, cars, airplanes, history, architecture and conversation. He is preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Helen Newbold Brunner, and survived by his four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.