June Marie Kummer, who worked alongside her late husband and Missouri S&T graduate Fred S. Kummer to build a general contracting business into the world’s largest design-build firm for health care and financial facilities, died Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, in St. Louis. She was 93.
In 2020, she and her husband donated $300 million to Missouri S&T, the largest single gift ever to any public or private university in Missouri and one of the largest ever to any university, to establish the Kummer Institute for Student Success, Research and Economic Development. The institute supports S&T’s efforts to encourage more students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), elevate the university’s reputation and research profile, and strengthen the economy of the Rolla region and the state.
“We have lost a true visionary and pioneer, a true champion of S&T and of the entirety of higher education,” says Missouri S&T Chancellor Mo Dehghani. “The privilege of working with June Kummer and her husband to help bring their passion for advancing S&T’s mission to life on behalf of all of our students has been a pinnacle of my career in higher education. June and Fred’s generosity is unparalleled. Their 68-year marriage is a beautiful example of a loving partnership between two strong, ambitious and intelligent individuals. We send our sincere condolences to the entire Kummer family.”
Dehghani notes that the Kummers have been among Missouri S&T’s most generous donors over the years. They provided the lead gift for the Kummer Student Design Center, which houses Missouri S&T’s 19 student-run design teams. They also supported the expansion in the 1990s of Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Hall and, in the early 2000s, of Toomey Hall, which houses S&T’s mechanical and aerospace engineering programs. In recognition of June’s passion for landscaping and gardening, the Kummers provided a gift to name the Fred and June Kummer Garden at S&T’s Hasselmann Alumni House.
June Baumer was born and raised in St. Louis, where she attended Hadley Technical High School. After earning a degree in architecture from Washington University in 1951, she worked for the William B. Ittner architecture firm before marrying Fred Kummer in 1953. In 1954 the couple moved to Rolla, where Fred earned his degree in civil engineering in 1955 at Missouri S&T, then to Crestwood, Missouri, where, with their growing family, they established a construction firm that became the nine-division Hospital Building and Equipment (HBE) Company. In addition, they established the Adams Mark hotel chain.
In a 2021 interview with Missouri S&T Magazine, June explained the central role that teaching and learning played in their marriage. “I learned a lot about engineering from Fred, and he learned a lot about design from me,” she said.
While June worked on HBE projects, her main focus was raising their children and pursuing her love of gardening. In addition to those that surrounded their home, the large vegetable and herb garden and various fruit trees supported her other passion: cooking. A leader in the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri, which honored her service by naming a peach-pink lily the June Kummer Daylily, June was described by one journalist as the “eternal horticulturist.” She also held leadership positions with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the National Garden Club.
Three years after donating $300 million to S&T, the impact of the Kummer gift continues to expand across the S&T community, creating opportunities for students and faculty in each of the university’s three colleges. The gift enabled the establishment of the Kummer College of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development in 2022, the launch of research centers focused on artificial intelligence, advance manufacturing and resource sustainability, appointment of academic leaders, ongoing investment in capital projects, increased investment in undergraduate scholarships and doctoral fellowships, extended opportunities for Missouri’s underserved students to learn about STEM, support for faculty research, and more.
June is survived by daughter Caroline Croswell and son-in-law Tom Crosswell, son Fritz Kummer and daughter-in-law Tess, and daughter Melanie Brewer and son-in-law David, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Village Lutheran Church, 9237 Clayton Road, Ladue, Missouri. At the family’s request, memorial donations may be given to Forest Park Forever, 5595 Grand Drive, St. Louis, MO 63112, or online at www.forestparkforever.org/donate or BJC Hospice, 1935 Beltway Drives, St. Louis, MO 63114, or online at www.bjchospice.org.
About Missouri University of Science and Technology
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.