Peter Kiewit was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1900 and remained a resident of the city throughout his entire life. Mr. Kiewit attended Mason School, then Central High School where he graduated in 1918. Following graduation he studied for a year at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Mr. Kiewit returned to Omaha in 1919 to work as a general contractor for his family’s company. Under Mr. Kiewit’s leadership, the small contracting company grew to be one of the largest employee-owned businesses in the country.
Mr. Kiewit believed that there was no better place to live in the United States than Omaha. He attributed his success to the work ethic of Nebraskans and he wanted to return his wealth to their communities. Before he died, Mr. Kiewit directed that his personal estate be used to establish a foundation to support public-purpose projects in Nebraska and Western Iowa. Peter Kiewit Foundation opened its doors in 1979 with a $150 million endowment.
Peter Kiewit was born in Omaha on September 12. He remained a resident of the city his entire life.
Peter graduated from Omaha Central High School.
After attending Dartmouth for a year, Kiewit returned to Omaha in 1919 to work at his family’s general contracting business.
Kiewit Brothers celebrates 40 years and lands its first million dollar contracts; The Livestock Exchange Building in Omaha (pictured above) and the Burlington Railroad Depot in Lincoln.
Kiewit contracted phlebitis and lived with pain for years until a treatment was developed. The experience incited a lifelong interest in health and wellness.
As many of his family members began pulling out of the business, Kiewit dissolved the family firm and formed a new company, Peter Kiewit Sons’.
As America prepared for war, the Kiewit company won a $7.5 million contract to build a military base at Fort Lewis in Washington. While the project doubled in size, with Peter’s leadership, the project was completed within the original timeframe.
Peter was dedicated to improving and educating himself and had similar aspirations for his employees. As a result he launched company training sessions and the first annual meeting of Peter Kiewit Sons’.
Peter purchased his second ranch, Pawnee Springs near North Platte, Neb. While he used his first ranch, X-Bar-X in northern Wyoming, as a place to get away occasionally, Pawnee Springs was focused on the cattle business.
Kiewit joined the Ak-Sar-Ben board of governors and was determined to help the Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack become one of the most successful tracks in the country. Therefore, Mr. Kiewit worked as the racing chairman for seven of the 16 years he served on the Ak-Sar-Ben board.
Peter’s efforts were recognized in the Omaha community when he was crowned King Ak-Sar-Ben LXV and was noted as the “most influential Omahan of his time, the city’s ultimate mover and shaker.”
Peter who normally shied away from publicity, surprised many observers by purchasing the World Publishing Co., publisher of the Omaha World Herald, to keep ownership of the newspaper in Omaha.
Peter became more active as a philanthropist. One of his first sizable public donations (just under $1 million) went to Creighton University for the construction of Kiewit Hall, a women’s dormitory.
Recognizing Peter’s focus on workplace safety, the National Safety Council awarded Peter Kiewit Sons’ its highest accolade, the Award of Honor, based on the company’s record of 21 million man-hours of safe work.
Peter received the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Throughout his career, he made it his mission to hire the best-qualified employees regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Peter served on President Lyndon Johnson’s Committee on Urban Rehabilitation, and a year later, he was appointed by Richard Nixon to the President’s Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprise.
In the last 10 years of his life, Peter focused his attention on civic affairs. Peter was a member of the board of Boys’ Clubs of Omaha, Chairman of the national Presbyterian Foundation, member of the boards of the Omaha YMCA, Josyln Art Museum, Omaha National Bank, Creighton University, Northern Natural Gas, Education and Cultural Foundation of Omaha, First Presbyterian Church of Omaha and the Swanson Center for Nutrition.
The Nebraska Society of Washington, D.C. awarded Kiewit the Distinguished Nebraskan Award.
The Jesuit community at Creighton awarded Peter its Manresa Medal for inspirational and enduring achievement and the University of Nebraska Medical Center presented Kiewit with its Distinguished Service to Medicine award.
Peter was recognized as an Honorary Founder of Creighton University, only the second time in the school’s then 100-year history that the honor was given.
On August 4th, Kiewit was thrown off a horse at the X-Bar-X and broke several ribs. Follow-up x-rays revealed a malignant tumor on his left lung. Though the lung was removed, he would never fully recover. Peter Kiewit died on November 2nd.
Prior to his death, Kiewit directed that his personal estate be used to establish a foundation to support public-purpose projects in Nebraska and Western Iowa. Peter Kiewit Foundation opened its doors in 1979 with a $150 million endowment.