McGovern (left) and Lehrer achieved renown for leading the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, pictured here in a 1984 ENR cover profile.

Eugene McGovern, co-founder of Lehrer/McGovern Inc., died suddenly on Jan. 22. He would have turned 73 on Jan. 29.

McGovern, a construction consultant based in Boca Raton, Fla., and Cody, Wyo., started his career at construction giant Morse/Diesel Inc.

While there, he met Peter M. Lehrer. In 1979, the two formed Lehrer/McGovern. The firm was catapulted into the limelight after it landed the high-profile centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty, which finished up in 1986.

"Gene had an incredible gift of understanding how to solve problems, motivate people and get things done no matter how monumental," says Lehrer, currently a construction consultant based in New York City.

Bovis bought half of Lehrer/McGovern in 1986, renaming it Lehrer McGovern Bovis. LMB eventually became Lend Lease.

McGovern and Lehrer left LMB in the mid-1990s. Then, McGovern started construction manager Jones/GMO. After that, he formed Pavarini McGovern, with his son Eric, who is currently president and CEO.

McGovern, the father, was one of five founders of the Contractors Association of Greater New York (CAGNY). He was respected as an effective dispute mediator. He also was known for his hands-on business style.

"Once the principals remove themselves so that they don't know the people in the company, the company loses its unique character," McGovern said in a 1984 cover profile on Lehrer/McGovern.