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Kirby Nagelhout’s Legacy ‘Will Live Forever’


Long-time contractor Kirby Nagelhout has been an integral part of building Bend and Central Oregon to where it stands today. After a long battle with cancer, he passed away Saturday at the age of 55. He leaves behind a family, business and legacy of iconic buildings on the High Desert.

There are hundreds of projects Nagelhout Construction was involved in over the years. Those who knew Kirby best believe he left a part of himself in every one of his creations.

“It’s a huge loss,” Project Assistant Jackie Evans said Wednesday. “Not just to the construction company and the community, but it goes beyond that because of how he touched my life personally.”

Following in his father’s footsteps into the construction business, Nagelhout started his own company in 1986. Some of his most noteworthy projects include the Pine Marten Lodge at Mount Bachelor, the Redmond Airport terminal and the Deschutes County Library in downtown Bend.

“The question might be, ‘Was work the most important thing to him?,'” newly appointed company President Jeff Deswert said. “For the most part. He loved work. He enjoyed the challenge of it.

“He would be found working when other people were found playing, because he enjoyed what he did very much,” said Deswert.

Nagelhout oversaw more than 1,000 projects, large and small. Tim Knopp of the Central Oregon Builders Association said his impact will be long-lasting, because hundreds of thousands of people use structures he created.

“I think he always encouraged everyone to use your own creativity and strengths,” company General Superintendent Leon Methvin said.

While building landmark projects like the Westside Church and several COCC buildings, Nagelhout’s co-workers said he was always quietly giving back to the community.

“He was the most wonderful, giving man,” said Administrative Assistant Michele Martin. “He did so much with the schools, with 4-H and Deschutes Children’s Foundation and Grandma’s House. He’s been such a big part. Anyone that would ask for a donation, he would say, ‘Sure.'”

The Nagelhout business will be carried on by the co-workers Kirby trusted. They say they hope to maintain his legacy.

“I just keep trying to tell myself, that just because he’s not here, you know, physically with us, there’s just this huge footprint he left on Central Oregon,” said Evans. “He’s just going to live forever.”

A memorial for Kirby Nagelhout will be held at the auditorium of Bend High School, where he graduated, on Friday, July 15th at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, his family is asking any donations be made to the Deschutes Children’s Foundation, Grandma’s House and Partners in Care Home Health and Hospice in Bend.

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