Noted architect, avid Texas A&M supporter Preston Geren Jr. dies

Preston Geren, Jr.

Preston Geren, Jr.

Preston M. Geren, Jr., an avid supporter of the Texas A&M College of Architecture whose family history is deeply tied to the Texas A&M architecture program, passed away peacefully Wednesday, June 12, 2013. He was 89.

A member of Texas A&M’s Class of 1945, Geren Jr.’s links to architectural education at Texas A&M can be traced to the program's inception. In September 1905, his grandfather, Frederick E. Giesecke, a member of the Class of 1886, established Texas’ first formal architectural education program at what was then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. He also oversaw the design and construction of many of the most revered buildings still gracing the Texas A&M campus.

Additionally, Geren's father, Geren Sr., and uncle, Bertram Giesecke, earned architecture degrees from the school, in 1912 and 1911, respectively, and went on to establish successful careers in the profession.

"Preston represented Texas A&M's 'First Family of Architecture' for decades," said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the Texas A&M College of Architecture. "His grandfather, Frederick Giesecke, taught the first architecture class in 1905, and like his father and uncle, Preston learned the architecture profession on the A&M campus and contributed to its design."

"He continued to embody that family tradition through unwavering support of the college as a member of advisory councils and through financial support, visibly represented by the Preston M. Geren Auditorium, honoring his father, and the Frederick Giesecke Lecture Series, honoring his grandfather."

Preston was born Dec. 16, 1923, in Fort Worth, the son of Preston M. Geren and Linda Giesecke Geren. He graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1941 and attended Texas A&M until, like other members of the Class of 1945, he entered military service in 1943 when World War II interrupted his studies.

He was commissioned an officer in the Army and served with distinction in the European theater with Co. K, 385th Infantry Battalion, 76th Division, 3rd Army. He was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart.

After the war, he resumed his education at Georgia Tech, graduating with a degree in architecture and engineering in 1947, then returning to Texas to join the firm his father had established in 1934, Preston M. Geren Architects & Engineers.

After his father's passing in 1969, Preston built on Preston Sr.'s legacy, leading it to become one of the largest firms in Texas.

The scope of his architectural and engineering practice included projects at many of Texas' major universities, including Texas Christain University, the University of Texas System, University of Texas Medical School, Southwestern Baptist Seminary and Texas A&M University; many community colleges, including Kilgore, Waco, Midland/Odessa and Tarrant County; 137 school districts, many hospitals, churches, banks and office buildings.

Preston was especially proud of his firm's work as associate architect with Louis Kahn on the Kimbell Art Museum, and of many buildings on the campus of Texas A&M, including the Clayton Williams Alumni Center.

Because he believed the greatest gift an individual could receive was an education, Preston was a strong supporter of education, sponsoring seven scholarships at Texas A&M University, where he was a distinguished alumnus of both the university and its College of Architecture.

"Preston's love of A&M spread to family, friends and colleagues and across the campus landscape," said Vanegas, "His legacy is unmatched among former students of the College of Architecture and will always be a living testament to his excellence. His spirit will continue with us, inspiring not only current students, but more importantly, the future of Texas A&M architecture."

Preston's professional affiliations and recognitions included the presidency of the Texas Society of Architects and of the Fort Worth chapter of the Texas Society of Architects. He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, received the Llewellyn Pitts Award from the Texas Society of Architects and was the first to receive the Fort Worth A&M Club Lifetime Achievement Award.

As a business and civic leader he served on the board of directors of Ridglea State Bank, Equitable Savings & Loan, Fort Worth National Bank, Gibraltar Savings Bank, First United Bancorp, Enserch Corp, Pool Well Service Co. and Ebasco Services Co. He was a founder and director of Overton Bank & Trust, now merged into Frost Bank. He also served as chairman of Trinity Improvement Assoc., organizer and president of Streams & Valleys and was a member of the boards of the Fort Worth Children's Hospital, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History, Fort Worth Symphony, and served as president of the Exchange Club.

Preston was a member of the President George H.W. Bush Library Committee and the Texas A&M Chancellor and President's Advisory Committees. He also served as president of the 12th Man Foundation of Texas A&M and was elected to the Westover Hills City Council and Tarrant Regional Water District.

He was a lifetime member and two-term vestryman of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in downtown Fort Worth.

For more on Geren's life and family, see his obituary in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


posted June 13, 2013