Eugene Luntey, 101, former chair, CEO of Brooklyn Union Gas, remembered
Also served LIU, Brooklyn Museum, BAM, Polytech in high positions
Eugene “Gene” Luntey, former chair and CEO of Brooklyn Union Gas, former chair of Long Island University and a board member of numerous Brooklyn institutions, died on Sept. 8 at the age of 101, according to the Shelter Island (N.Y.) Reporter.
For many years, since his retirement from Brooklyn Union Gas — a predecessor of Natural Grid — he had lived both in Shelter Island and in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Born in 1921, Luntey grew up in Buhl, Idaho, and graduated from the University of Idaho in 1943 with a degree in chemical engineering, according to the Reporter.
After serving in the Navy during World War II, he and his wife, Beverly, moved to Brooklyn in 1948 after he accepted a position with Brooklyn Union Gas as a junior engineer. According to his Linkedin page, his take-home salary was $298 a month.
In those days, most of the gas being used in the city was manufactured in huge gas plants. When natural gas, piped in from other regions of the country, came to the city in the early 1950s, Luntey aided in the transition, designing, installing and maintaining the facilities.
“He became increasingly active in the natural gas industry in the United States, eventually becoming chairman of the New York Gas Group as well as a member of the New York State Energy Development Authority,” the Reporter said in an interview in 2011.
Luntey became chair and CEO in 1975, and served in this position until 1986, when he took mandatory retirement, his Linkedin page detailed. In the 1980s, he sought to buy the gas system of the troubled utility Long Island Lighting Co. (LILCO), according to The New York Times.
LILCO turned his bid down. However, in 1998, LILCO’s natural gas business and electrical distribution merged with Brooklyn Union Gas to form KeySpan Energy, which was later taken over by National Grid.
In addition to his activities at Brooklyn Union Gas, in the 1970s, the Reporter said, Luntey created Fuel Resources Inc. This company invested in gas and oil fields throughout the U.S. Then, in 1981, he developed the Methane Development Corp., a joint venture with Getty Synthetic Fuels to gather methane gas from the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.
In 1983, Luntey joined the board of trustees of Long Island University and became the first chancellor of its Brooklyn campus. Between 1993 and 1998, he served as chairman of the board for the university’s Brooklyn and Brookville, N.Y., campuses.
He also served on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Polytechnic University (now NYU Tandon School of Engineering). He also led fundraising efforts for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the now-defunct Long Island College Hospital.
He received honorary doctorates from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Polytechnic University and Long Island University.
The day before his death, the Reporter said, he told his doctor, “I’m not sick, I’m just old.” He was predeceased by both his first wife, Beverly Weber Luntey, and his second, Betty Brodie. He is survived by five children, 10 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.
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