Last Modified: Thursday, November 22, 2012 8:39 PM
Ernest Lee Levingston, a prominent Lake Charles engineer who died Monday, Nov. 19, built his contract engineering firm from one person — himself — to its present force of 220 employees, a colleague said.
Levingston Engineers Inc. has grown from the primarily contractor engineering drafting firm he founded in 1961 to a full-service consulting engineering company, Mark Nixon, chief executive officer of Levingston Group LLC, said.
The company provides civil, electrical, mechanical, control systems, structural and process engineering, Nixon explained.
“He was actually a man of great insight,” Nixon said. He foresaw a great future in the consulting engineering business when most companies had their own staff engineers.
“He started contract engineering in this area,” he said.
Levingston started adding accounts one or two at a time. The present company has 48 engineers on staff, 136 design and drafting employees plus administrative and clerical employees, Nixon said. It now has 57 projects under way and works on an average of 300 projects a year.
“It was his integrity that allowed him to build our business,” Nixon said. “His work was something you could hang your hat on. He always considered the needs of his customers, but he considered even more the people who worked for him. He developed relationships with the staff, and he believed if he was loyal to them, they would be loyal to the company.”
“He was one who allowed you to use your abilities to better the company,” Nixon said.
Levingston sold the company to long-time employees Nixon and Dan Leveque in 2008.
Levingston was 91. He was born in Pineville and grew up on a Johnson Bayou farm, where he performed all the chores expected of farm boys. He attended McNeese College and worked full-time for his grandfather’s construction company, T. Miller and Sons. He attended Tulane University. He served in the SeaBees naval construction in the South Pacific and as an officer in the Navy hydrographic office in Washington.
When he returned to Lake Charles he worked in the engineering department of Cities Service Refining Corp. in Lake Charles before moving his family to Baton Rouge in 1957, where he worked for an engineering firm and earned his bachelor of science degree from Louisiana State University. He returned to Lake Charles and started his practice as a licensed professional engineer. The first desk in his office on Pujo Street was made out of a door.
He and his wife, the former Kathleen Bordelon, recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. They had three children, the late David Levingston, James Levingston and Jeanne Levingston Owens.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at First United Methodist Church of Lake Charles. Burial in Graceland Cemetery will be directed by Hixson Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home and 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the church.