Herbert Koenig, Jr. ’63: Life Is Good

There is a bit of a Delta Chi fairytale in the life of Texas boy, Herbert Koenig, Jr. ’63. He met his wife of 51 years, Mary Alice Burrell, at a fraternity-sorority party. In 1964, they became part of a group who married their college sweethearts and continue to return to reunions together (watch for an article on this in the coming months). Additionally, they had three sons who have all become successful in their respective professional fields. As Herb says, “Life has been very good to me.”

The year was 1958. Herb, a Texas native (a consistent point of ridicule with his Delta Chi brothers), was accepted to study mechanical engineering at Michigan. He found a home at Delta Chi.

“I lived in the house my sophomore and junior years,” Herb describes. “At that time, the house provided three meals a day during the week. As I remember, meals on Saturday were lunch and dinner. Sunday there was no dinner service. We had very few single rooms with most being for two members. All of us slept in one of two dorms; no one slept regularly in their own rooms. Fraternity houses were a convenient living condition as all day-to-day needs were covered. The brothers in the fraternity were a rather close-knit group with a large percentage returning each year. There were some apartments but the majority of students lived in dorms at that time. Living in the house was a part of an education, learning to get along with others and doing things together.” Herb lived in an apartment during his last year with Brothers Barry McGuire ’65 and Jim House ’64.

One interesting event in the undergraduate life of Herb and his brothers was a Michigras parade float built in 1962. As Herb recalls, Mike McGuire ’58 and Lane Kendig ’62 led the group that built a model of a tank on a half-ton pickup truck. They removed the hood to incorporate some of the structure. The tank was painted pink. During the parade, Kendig played the part of Fidel Castro, standing in the tank’s turret.  This was at a time when Fidel Castro was actively moving Cuba into a model based on communism. As one can imagine, there was some controversy over Delta Chi’s choice of parade design.

As memorable as some Delta Chi activities and events were in the life of Herb and his brothers, one truly stands out at the most significant — the opportunity to meet a sorority sister who would become his wife. “The number-one memory I have of my days at Delta Chi is that I met my wife of 51 years at a TGIF party held between DX and her sorority. Together we enjoyed many parties and outings because of the fraternity organization. A number of us still make the reunions as we are still married to our college sweethearts.”

Indeed, every five years, this group reunites. Frank Morrey ’64 serves as lead organizer, and Brothers Keith Hellems ’62 and Howard Gandelot ’64 are also very active as members of this group. Brothers from this group are spread out over the country; thus, Christmas is really the main time for contacting one another and staying in touch.

Following graduation, Herb took a position with Sundstrand Hydraulics in Rockford, Ill., where he worked in their engineering department accumulating test data on their new gear pump line and, later, on their hydrostatic transmission group. Overall, this was a good experience, and he enjoyed living in Rockford. Mary joined him there following their wedding.

In 1965, Herb and Mary moved to Houston where he would work with a company started by his Grandfather Koenig.  “I served as the purchasing agent and credit manager during most of this time. The last two years before the company was sold, I worked in the sales department handling some trouble calls, tradeshows and distributor contact with company salesmen.”

When the family business was sold in 1978, Herb started a manufacturer’s representative company with a focus on machined parts, hydraulic cylinders and gears among other products utilized in manufacturing processes. In 1983, he purchased Liftmoore, Inc., a manufacturer of truck-mounted cranes. This has been a success for Herb and his family, with the company growing from eight to over 90 employees over the past 31-plus years.

Business success has clearly been a theme of Herb’s life. However, his greatest pride lies in the lives, choices and successes of his three sons. “Our oldest son works for Siemens in Florida and is over their combustion design group. He has a Ph.D. in engineering. Our middle son has worked with me for over 20 years and now runs all aspects of the operation. Our youngest son graduated with a statistics degree, earned an MBA and obtained his CPA license while working. He worked for several national accounting firms before going with an international company.”

For several years, Herb was a private pilot — a hobby he discontinued once his boys got older (and the costs got too expensive). Over the years, he has played a lot of golf. More recently, he has become a member of the local Model A club and owns two Model A vehicles. One is an AA truck and the other a four-door passenger car. Both were built in 1929 and are drivable today. Today, most of his spare time is spent in their yard. “We live on a one-and-one-third acre lot in Houston with several large flowerbeds that I tend. After years of running an organization, I enjoy the solitude of watching flowers and trees grow.”

Another hobby Herb and Mary enjoy is traveling. They have been to Europe multiple times including several trips to visit Herb’s German cousins. Their most recent trip included a six-day cruise on the Danube. They have also taken a ski trip to Colorado every year since 2000. Most of their trips have been across the U.S. and are often combined with tradeshows displaying their company’s products.

“Life has been very good to me, and I am very thankful to live my life in this country,” Herb says. “I want my brothers to remember me as someone who did his part to contribute to our society in a positive way.”

Brothers interested in reaching Herb (or Liftmoore) can do so by emailing him at [email protected] or calling 713.305.8654.