Kenneth Dale Yost, P.E., dies at 61

Todd A. Rehg, P.E.
Assistant Public Works Director
City of Kirkwood, Missouri

  Kenneth Dale Yost

Kenneth Yost, Public Works Director for the City of Kirkwood, Missouri, was one of five city officials fatally wounded in a shooting at the Kirkwood City Council meeting on February 7, 2008. The other public servants killed in the shooting included two City Council members and two police officers. The mayor was critically wounded and is currently hospitalized.

Ken was born on March 23, 1946. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1968. He received a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1976. His first job was as a design engineer for Continental Oil Company in Ponca City, Oklahoma from August 1968 to January 1969. He served as a Lieutenant and Captain in the U.S. Army during Vietnam under the Corps of Engineers from February 1969 until he was discharged in February 1972. At that time, he went to work as a design engineer for bridge structures with Sverdrup & Parcel. He designed bridges until July 1973 when he took a position with the City of Kirkwood as the Assistant City Engineer. In October 1984, he was promoted to Public Works Director.

Ken was very active in the community. He held several memberships which included ASCE since 1976, APWA since 1984, and NSPE since 1985. He was Chairman of the St. Louis Metro Chapter of APWA in 1991 and Director of the Missouri Branch of APWA in 1992 and 1993. In 1998, Ken was honored with the APWA St. Louis Branch's Engineer of the Year award. In 1999, he was named MSPE-St. Louis Chapter's PEG Engineer of the Year award recipient. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood since 1986 and he and his wife, Cathy, went on several mission trips to the Gulf Coast to help with relief efforts from Hurricane Katrina.

Ken and Cathy celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2007 with a week-long Alaskan cruise. They were an inseparable pair, and were often seen together having lunch during the work week. They have a son, David, who is engaged to be married. Another son, Paul, passed away in 2002.

Ken was always helping out around the community. He would look for ways to better the community and make things easier for the residents of Kirkwood. But Ken never wanted to be in the spotlight. He would do his work quietly, with great wisdom, compassion and dignity.

Ken was instrumental in starting the regional recycling program. Kirkwood is one of the few municipalities in the St. Louis Metro area that has a recycling center for dropoff recycling. From 1991 to 1992, Ken was responsible for planning, presenting and implementing the City of Kirkwood's solid waste and yard waste programs, complying with State Solid Waste Management Law which eliminated yard waste landfill disposal, and requires an overall landfill reduction of 40% over eight years. He was appointed to the Executive Board of the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District by the St. Louis County Council in July 1992.

I had the pleasure of working with Ken for the last ten years. In that time, Ken was a great boss, full of knowledge and history of Kirkwood and public works. He had been mentoring me for the last several years to try to prepare me for becoming a public works director. His knowledge of engineering practices as they relate to public works was instrumental in helping me prepare for taking on the ominous task of being a director. I hope I can do half of what he has accomplished over his career and keep his legacy alive through my experiences in public works.

Todd Rehg can be reached at (314) 822-5821 or rehgta@kirkwoodmo.org.

"I knew Ken for over 30 years both when I was at Sunset Hills and in Des Peres. He was one of the most soft-spoken, easygoing directors I ever knew. Nothing seemed to make him mad. He was always willing to sit down and talk to someone about their problems. He was always a professional, a gentleman, and a person you would want to be around. He will be missed." - Denis Knock, P.E., Public Works Director, City of Des Peres

"I knew Ken Yost since 1980. He was a perfect gentleman and always willing to help. He was a very soft-spoken person and always had 'his hand of friendship and help' available to other engineers. He was very active in the local Branch of the APWA Missouri Chapter." - Vijay K. Bhasin, P.E., Bhasin Associates

"Ken was instrumental in the establishment of our regional solid waste management district, which was created to expand waste reduction and recycling in the region. I think it was a good fit for him both intellectually and in terms of his personal values. Districts were given a broad grant of authority when established by the legislature, but only very vague guidelines operationally. Consequently, everything we did we had to figure out from scratch with no assistance, which is the kind of endeavor Ken always enjoyed. The success we have had is due in large measure to Ken's wisdom and experience as a guiding hand throughout our existence. He served as District chair, helped lay the framework for our grant program and performed the time-consuming job for the annual grant review and allocation year in and year out, and provided key leadership during periods of organizational growth and change. He was a calm force in turbulent periods, and always kept us focused on solutions and improvements in the face of adverse situations. Ken was one of our original board members, and his almost 15 years of dedicated service was just a tremendous contribution to the growth of a regional recycling industry that has expanded our economy, protected our environment, and strengthened our communities. It was an honor and privilege to have worked with him, and gotten to know him both personally and professionally. He was a tremendous mentor to me and all of us at the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, and he will be greatly missed." - David Berger, Executive Director, St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District