If there was ever a true royal figure for Monroe County, Twyla Luhr was the one.
Her down-to-earth demeanor and fondness for the simple things in life certainly commanded respect from the entire community and beyond.
Luhr, matriarch of one of this country’s largest contractors in heavy construction and marine services, and benefactress to countless worthwhile causes throughout the county, died Friday. She was 88.
As co-owner of Luhr Brothers, Inc. in Columbia, Twyla carried on the success of the company her late husband, Alois, and his brother Eugene founded back in 1938. Her husband passed away in 2005.
“Twyla was a very kind and generous employer who treated her employees like they were her own family,” Mary Mees of Luhr Brothers’ Columbia office said on behalf of the entire staff. “She will be dearly missed.”
And while Luhr Brothers works mostly with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on large levee-related projects across the country these days, the Luhrs never forgot their home county.
Twyla readily admitted on numerous occasions that her “heart was in Valmeyer,” where she was born, attended school and was married to Alois back in 1942.
Indeed, she was buried at St. John Cemetery in Valmeyer, following funeral services held Tuesday.
But Columbia, where the family’s company is stationed near the Mississippi River, and Waterloo, where Twyla and Alois had lived since 1957, were equally important communities for the Luhrs.
They gave back to the community in a big way, contributing to the construction and funding of many athletic facilities, organizations, parks and buildings across the county.
The Waterloo Chamber of Commerce recognized Twyla in 1997 for these and other community efforts.
A longtime sponsor of the Valmeyer Lakers, she was also inducted into the Mon-Clair Baseball League Hall of Fame in 2008.
Twyla was most recently recognized for donating towards to the construction of concession and restroom facilities at Konarcik Park in Waterloo, as well as athletic fields at the new Waterloo High School.
“Her monetary gifts can only partially define her generosity to the youth of our district,” said Waterloo school superintendent Jim Helton. “From the twinkle in her eye, Twyla was genuine, honest and hard-working, with high standards for herself and others.”
“Our school community will miss her… she set an extraordinary example.”
Among some of the other accomplishments for which Twyla was so proud include being a 65-year member of the Valmeyer American Legion Auxiliary; a charter member of the Bell Choir at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Waterloo; and an active supporter and contributor to the American Cancer Society’s annual fundraisers such as Relay For Life.
She was an avid golfer, card player and supporter of local athletics.
“I can’t help but feel like Monroe County has lost their best friend,” said local resident and business owner Jane Kolmer. “Mr. and Mrs. Luhr’s successes through hard work and perseverance, coupled with their generosity and kindness, deserves an appreciation and admiration that few will ever realize. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Luhr, for making our home a better place.”