Thomas Joseph Kirwin Jr., who designed building sites throughout Long Island, died this month at age 65 after a long battle with leukemia. A trained traffic engineer, Kirwin's work dots Route 110, where he worked with developers, architects, local officials and members of the community to integrate office buildings with the landscape and ebbs and flows of commuters, while keeping projects compliant with building and zoning codes.
"He combined all of those things to produce a site plan that would be not only compatible with the goals of the developer but with the people of the town as well," said Kathy Giamo, a commercial real estate leasing consultant who worked with Kirwin. "His attention to detail was almost compulsive."
Kirwin spent a large part of his career working for Reckson Associates Realty Corp. and was later a planning and design consultant for Rechler Equity Partners.
Jim Morgo, a former Suffolk County legislator who now consults for the Rechlers, worked with Kirwin on both sides of the table. "He was always a consummate professional," Morgo recalled. "He was the opposite of heavy handed."
Born in Queens to a policeman and schoolteacher, Kirwin grew up loving baseball, playing first base on a championship team at Archbishop Molloy High School. His life nearly took another turn when the Milwaukee Braves scouted him and offered a spot on their farm team. "He made the cut, but he decided not to; it was kind of an unsure thing," said his son, Damon, 25.
He told Damon that "he'd probably make the pros but never be anything special" and that pursuing college and a career seemed like a surer bet.
Kirwin studied civil engineering and economics at City College of New York, from which he graduated in 1970. The following year he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara. They later moved to Long Island, eventually settling in Huntington, where he built his career and earned a pilot's license.
His son, who works for Rechler in construction management and grew up visiting construction sites, said his father kept working up to the end. "Even when he was in the hospital, it was like relaxation," he said.
Services for Kirwin, who died Nov. 3, were held last week at the Church of Saint Patrick in Huntington. He is survived by his wife, son and sister, Ursula Smyth, of Winter Park, Fla.