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Alvin J. Oberst, structural engineer co-founded prominent firm

Aug. 31, 1920 – Jan. 29, 2015

Alvin J. Oberst, a structural engineer who co-founded the firm of Duchscherer & Oberst, died Jan. 29 at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. He was 94.

Mr. Oberst, of Williamsville, was born in Cheektowaga. He was married to the late Marilyn Oberst, who died in 1998.

He graduated from Pine Hill High School in 1938 and the University of Michigan School of Architecture in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering. At Michigan, he was elected to the Tau Sigma Delta honorary architectural fraternity and was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi Medal in Architecture.

Mr. Oberst enlisted in the Army in World War II, serving in the Company A 655th Engineer Topographical Battalion. He had active duty in Europe, specializing in aerial photography and achieving the rank of corporal. He received the Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, EAME Campaign Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal, and was honorably discharged in 1946.

After his military service, Mr. Oberst worked at the Elmira Works of the American Bridge Co., Bell Aircraft and Thomas H. McKaig, consulting engineer, and also became a licensed professional engineer in the state.

In 1951, he and Phil Duchscherer formed Duchscherer & Oberst, which grew and later merged with Wendel Engineering in 2000 to become one of the largest engineering firms in the country.

Mr. Oberst, an expert in structural engineering, pioneered the use of air-entrained concrete as well as finite element analysis of complex structures. He mentored and worked with many key architects on projects, including Thruway bridges, the state legislative office building in Albany, the 20-story addition to the Liberty Building, and the triple dome athletic complex at Elmira College.

He was a member and past president of the Buffalo Executives Association, the Buffalo/WNY Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute, the Structural Clinic of Buffalo, and the Western New York Chapter of the American Consulting Engineer’s Council. He received the Buffalo Executive Association Bird Dog Award, the group’s highest honor, which was replaced by the Alvin J. Oberst Excellence in Service Award on the night he received the award.

Mr. Oberst was a member of Plymouth United Church of Christ and was active in running it for many years.

He enjoyed bowling, dancing, golf, stamp collecting and home improvement projects. He was considered an expert carpenter and electrician, and he designed his Williamsville home.

Survivors include a son, Dr. Timothy S.; and two granddaughters.

A memorial service will be held in Sardinia Rural Cemetery.

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