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Thomas McKittrick

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Thomas Lamar McKittrick was born in Houston on October 29, 1934, and died on April 23, 2013, not far from his boyhood home. A man of many talents and interests, Tom had three great loves: architecture, education, and the women in his family.

Tom found his calling at age 10, when he learned that architects design buildings to improve people's lives. After graduating from Jeff Davis High School, he earned his professional degree in architecture from the Rice Institute in 1957.

Following his uneventful service in the U.S. Navy, Tom married Barbie, his college sweetheart. They were true partners in every sense. They supported each other's autonomy, respected each other's ideas, and devoted themselves to their family. Tom grew up in a family of strong women whom he adored. He and Barbie raised their daughters to love learning, to value creativity, and to give generously of themselves.

For 25 years, Tom practiced architecture in Houston. He co-founded an award-winning firm, known originally as McKittrick Drennan & Richardson, which became well known for school design, and for an ahead-of-its-time focus on energy efficiency and sustainability.

Tom joined the American Institute of Architects because "that's what real architects do." Always drawn to the challenges and responsibilities of leadership, Tom went on to serve as President of AIA Houston and of the Texas Society of Architects, and as Vice President of the national AIA. He was inducted into the AIA College of Fellows in 1979, received the Llewellyn Pitts Lifetime Achievement Award from the TSA, and was honored by the AIA with the Edward Kemper Award for service to the Institute. Receiving that award, he remarked that he was the luckiest architect alive.

In mid-life, Tom's passion for education took a new form: passing on his architectural knowledge to the next generation. After leaving practice in 1988, he became the first Mid-Career Fellow in the Department of Architecture at Texas A&M, teaching design studios while earning his Master of Architecture degree. During his twelve years at A&M, he became a full Professor and served as Coordinator of the Graduate Program and interim Department Head. He cared deeply for his students, mentoring them both in and outside of the classroom.

Tom practiced what he preached on the importance of service to the community. He served as Mayor of Hilshire Village, as a deacon and council member in his churches, as president of his Rotary Club, and as president of the Association of Rice Alumni.
Tom is survived by his wife of 53 years, Barbara, their daughters Kimberly McKittrick, an architect in Seattle, and Melanie Hightower, an independent school administrator in Houston, grandsons Max and Reed Hightower, sons-in-law Paul Davis and Lee Hightower, sister Caralyn Cordell and her husband James, sister-in-law Glennie Scott, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Verda and Lamar McKittrick.
The family is grateful to the staff of AutumnGrove Cottage in the Heights for their loving care and kindness.
A memorial service will be held at the Rice Memorial Chapel on April 27 at 11:00 a.m., with reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any memorial contributions be made to the Rice University School of Architecture, the Texas A&M School of Architecture, or Covenant Baptist Church.

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Published in Houston Chronicle on Apr. 26, 2013
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