Body found in Missouri River identified as missing philanthropist

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | 3:27 p.m. CDT; updated 4:42 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ST. LOUIS — The body of a 102-year-old builder, philanthropist and leader of the region's Jewish community was found Tuesday in the Missouri River, more than two weeks after a witness saw an elderly man jump from a bridge.

The body was that of I.E. Millstone, State Water Patrol Sgt. Jerry Callahan confirmed.

A barge worker discovered the body early Tuesday near the St. Charles riverfront.

On May 16, a witness saw an elderly man jump from the Daniel Boone Bridge into the Missouri River. A vehicle belonging to Millstone's caretaker was parked nearby. Water Patrol crews searched for several days.

His body was found about 14 miles downstream from the bridge.

In a statement, the Millstone family thanked search and rescue crews for their efforts to find the body.

"I.E. Millstone cared passionately about people all his life, and when his life ended, the people of this community and around the world returned his care and concern with a remarkable outpouring of love and respect," a statement from a family spokesman said.

In 2007, Millstone's family started a $100,000 scholarship, in honor of his 100th birthday, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, according to the school's Web site.

In March 2008, TV station KETC in St. Louis conducted an interview with Millstone:

Millstone's company built dozens of St. Louis landmarks, including the old Busch Stadium, the fountains near Union Station and the original double-deck Highway 40 through downtown. He donated millions to Jewish projects and to causes related to education and the arts. He helped build housing for refugees in Israel in 1948.

"He was a man who was most concerned about making a difference in life by helping others," said Rabbi Howard Kaplansky of United Hebrew Congregation, where a sanctuary and library bear Millstone's name. "He was known and respected and admired for his wisdom, his vision. He was looked to as a patriarch of the Jewish community."

On Sunday, hundreds of people, including many civic leaders from St. Louis, gathered at the synagogue for a memorial service to honor Millstone, who lived in Ladue.

Despite his age, Millstone remained relatively active, and he spoke on May 3 at the Jewish Community Center.

However, close friend William H. Danforth said age was taking a toll. Millstone was having difficulty carrying out normal functions and sleeping, and his emotional stability "began to fray."

"He wanted to remain in charge of his own destiny," Danforth, a longtime Washington University chancellor and brother of former Republican Sen. John Danforth, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Millstone entered Washington University at age 16. Two years after graduating in 1927 with an engineering degree, he founded his construction company, now known as Millstone Bangert Inc.

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