Summer 2014 | Article by Kirby Messinger
After a successful career in urban planning for the Navy, Louis Misko (E ’72) wanted to give back to the institution that gave him so much. He decided to create a bequest intention to support Tulane University School of Science and Engineering’s greatest needs.
Many alumni create special designations in their wills far in advance of their death, but Misko’s intention was a bit more urgent. After suffering with lung cancer for three years, in January Misko’s doctors said that he only had three to six months left.
But the civil engineer responded to the news in a matter-of-fact fashion. He didn’t lament the diagnosis; instead he threw himself a party.
It started with a gathering in his hometown of San Diego and then grew into an additional celebration during his final visit to one of his favorite celebrations, Jazz Fest. A native of Biloxi, Miss., Misko’s family and friends from throughout the Gulf Coast traveled to New Orleans to celebrate his life.
During the trip to New Orleans, Misko, his wife Amy, and his college roommate Dennis Goerner (A&S ’72), traversed the entirety of Tulane’s campus from Gibson Hall to the new Yulman Stadium. The trip to his old stomping grounds brought back great memories and caused Misko to reflect on his education from Tulane and his successful career.
“I would have been satisfied if I would have just been a regular professional engineer, “ says Misko,“but somehow with my exposure at Tulane I was able to use those talents and experience in a way that I never dreamed I would have been able to.”
As a civil engineer, urban planning wasn’t a typical career path but a course Misko took his senior year at Tulane opened his mind to using his civil engineering degree in different ways.
“I had no idea that my exposure to urban studies courses at Tulane would lead me to these exciting projects,” says Misko. “Tulane took civil engineering types and exposed them to the idea that there is a lot more than just crunching numbers.”
Misko always figured he would live in New Orleans, because it held such a special place in his heart, but following Navy service, a civilian career with the Navy led him to San Diego. He went on to oversee high-profile developments on prominent Navy properties in San Diego, base closure plans along the West Coast and other major projects.
When he reflects on his career, he is proud of his legacy with the Navy. But he is also proud of the legacy he will leave behind at Tulane. He is benefiting the school’s greatest needs and giving back to the institution that helped him get started. And although he does not have much time left, Misko is spending every minute enjoying his last days with his family and friends, and his beloved city and institution.
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