From the summer 2017 issue of The Spirit of Washington University
Kim Kuehner, MBA ’77, found the perfect way to celebrate his love for his family, Washington University, and art and architecture: a significant commitment to support the construction of Anabeth and John Weil Hall in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. In recognition of the gift, the university will name the courtyard in Weil Hall the Kuehner Family Court in memory of Mr. Kuehner’s parents, sister, and grandparents.
The 2,500-square-foot courtyard, located between the second and third floors of the new building, will visually connect the school’s graduate studios across disciplines. It will provide space for events and program needs as well as social interaction among students and faculty members.
“The courtyard’s sense of community and the way it will join art and architecture reminded me of the process my family shared when we built our St. Louis home in the 1960s,” Mr. Kuehner says. “We were all involved in the architecture and decorating, and it became a creative experience that we enjoyed together. My gift to the university unites all of my family’s interests, like solving a jigsaw puzzle. It is a perfect fit.”
Mr. Kuehner’s family has long been committed to Washington University. His parents—Howard and Hortense “Horty” Hartkopf Kuehner—met at a mixer while they were students at the university. Howard enjoyed a long and successful career in the insurance industry, and in 1994, he and Horty established the Harry C. Hartkopf Professorship in Econometrics and Statistics at Olin Business School in memory of Horty’s father. In 2005, the couple endowed the Kerry S. Kuehner Scholarship in the College of Art in memory of Kim’s sister, Kerry, EMBA ’87, a talented artist. They also endowed two scholarships in the Olin School in 2008, one in honor of Kim and one in memory of Kerry.
“I had always said that my parents were the two most generous people in the world to their kids, but their donation for the professorship was my first realization that my folks were generous outside of the family as well,” Mr. Kuehner says. “That really impressed me.”
After earning his undergraduate degree in business at Washington and Lee University in 1975, Mr. Kuehner entered the MBA program at Washington University. “It was very rigorous,” he remembers. “My experience was nothing like that of my parents, who enjoyed an active social life on campus. I worked hard every day. If I was outside of the classroom, I was in the computer room or the library, or eating lunch at the Rathskeller.”
With his MBA in hand, Mr. Kuehner went to work as a men’s sportswear buyer at Famous-Barr, now owned by Macy’s. Less than 10 years later, he opened Kim Kuehner Sportswear in the St. Louis suburb of Ladue. He ran the store for 30 years.
Now retired, Mr. Kuehner splits his time between St. Louis and Palm Springs, California. He is proud to continue his family’s legacy of philanthropy at Washington University. “My parents and Kerry were especially loyal to the university,” he says. “I am so pleased to honor them by making this gift to an institution that has been such a big part of our lives.”
The 2,500-square-foot Kuehner Family Court in Anabeth and John Weil Hall in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will visually connect the school's graduate studios across disciplines and provide space for events, programs, and social interaction among students and faculty members.
—By Tim Fox