Charles J. Berkel, 88, Chairman of the Board and Founder of Berkel & Company, one of the largest piling contractors in the U.S., passed away November 4, 2013. A Charter Member of Deep Foundations Institute (DFI), Berkel was the recipient of the 2007 DFI Distinguished Service Award, and a major donor to the DFI Educational Trust Scholarship Program.
At the DFI Annual Conference in October, 2007, Berkel generously committed $1 million to the DFI Educational Trust to establish the Berkel & Company Contractors Inc. Scholarship. The scholarship provides $50,000 in scholarships annually to civil engineering or construction management students interested in pursuing a career in deep foundations. Currently four universities receive $12,500 each per year from the Berkel & Company Contractors Inc. Scholarship Fund: University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois, Auburn University in Alabama and the University of Houston. Each university determines whether the entire $12,500 scholarship amount received goes to one student or whether it is shared among several recipients. Since the first scholarship was awarded in 2008, 41 students have received a total of $286,000 in scholarship funds.
“Charles Berkel’s generous donation was the foundation for the Trust’s successful scholarship program,” says David Coleman, chair, DFI Educational Trust. “A prominent engineer and respected industry leader, Charles recognized that that the future of our industry depends on our ability to encourage and engage promising young engineers to consider careers in the deep foundations construction field.”
Berkel graduated from the University of Illinois in 1946 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. A year later he began his career in deep foundation construction working for Intrusion-Prepakt in Chicago. While there he was the project engineer for the first commercial project supported on ACIP piles in the U.S. In 1959 he resigned from Prepakt and started his own company, Berkel & Company Contractors, specializing in pressure grouting and the installation of Auger Pressure Grouted (APG) piles. Over the decades, he grew the company to become one of the largest piling contractors in the U.S.
Funeral services were held Friday, November 8, 2013, in Lenexa, Kan. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Berkel’s name to the University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, Kan., the Sister Servants of Mary, Kansas City, Kan., or Sacred Heart Church in Shawnee, Kan.