Eugene H. Luntey
Eugene Luntey was born and grew up in Buhl, Idaho, population of 2,500, and delivered newspapers and worked in the only drug store in town during high school. He graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1943 and received a scholarship to the Institute of Gas Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
But it was World War II and the government had other plans for him. He joined the Navy, and for the next two and a half years, worked for the Office of Scientific Research and Development, on rockets to be fired from naval aircraft. He joined the Navy as an ensign and trained as an airborne electronics officer. After two and one half years of training Navy pilots in radar and electronic navigation, including dropping torpedoes, he returned to the Illinois Institute of Technology.
In 1948, Luntey accepted a position at the Brooklyn Union Gas Company in New York as a junior engineer. During his time there, he worked nearly every engineering job possible including supervising, installing and maintaining the mains and services for the entire borough. He participated in the “conversion” where sections of the pipeline systems were isolated so that natural gas could be turned in to that section to replace the old “manufactured gas” which had been used for one hundred years. During this time he became a licensed engineer with the State of New York. Luntey remained with Brooklyn Union for his entire 38 year career eventually becoming assistant vice president, vice president, executive vice president and finally, for the last eleven years, president and chairman.
Luntey was very active in the natural gas industry in the United States and around the world. He served as chairman of the New York Gas Group, as well as president of the Society of Gas Lighting. He was a member of the New York State Energy Development Authority, chairman of the Gas Research Institute and chairman of the American Gas Association. As a member of the International Gas Union, he made trips to China, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and other countries to discuss mutual problems. He signed the first Technology Exchange agreements with Tokyo Gas and Osaka Gas companies which provided for the exchange of engineers for training in developing technologies.
Luntey also worked extensively in the public service arena. He served on the local Civic Association and the Port Washington Board of Education. He was deputy mayor and chief police commissioner of Sands Point for 25 years and, in New York City, he mentored the Rockefeller Fellows of the New York City Partnership, and served on the boards of the Regional Plan Association and NYC Planning committees. In Brooklyn, he served on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Polytechnic University and headed fund-raising efforts for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Long Island College Hospital. In 1983, Luntey joined the Board of Trustees of Long Island University. He became the first chancellor of the Brooklyn Campus and went on to serve five years as chairman of the entire university.
Luntey has received honorary doctorate degrees from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Polytechnic University and Long Island University. In 1993, U of I recognized him as an outstanding alumnus with the Silver and Gold Award. That year, he also gave the commencement address to the graduating engineers, fifty years to the day from his own graduation from the same stage in the same building.
Luntey and his wife Betty currently reside on Hilton Head Island in the winter months and on Shelter Island, New York, in the summer.
How many people do you know get a fishing trip on the Snake River in Idaho as a 90th birthday present? Probably only one and that would be Gene Luntey, who loved every minute of it. It was a gift from his son, Kirk.