In Memoriam

C. (Carl) John Eng, 74, a leader in the Alaska construction industry and co-founder of Cornerstone Construction Company, died unexpectedly June 23 of natural causes at his home.

Despite his great success as a general contractor, he was probably better known as a mentor, community leader, wonderful host at his spacious Hillside home, and philanthropist with a great sense of humor and a relentless curiosity about all things around him. He loved to both read—up to fifty books a year—and give books he found interesting to almost anyone who would take one.

He is survived by his wife, Lynn Ann Eng of Anchorage; two sons, Jason and Geoffrey; and his sons’ mother, Marilyn Jane Cady. He is also survived by two younger sisters, Carol Eng and Sandra Henson Brim and her husband Billy Brim.

C. John Eng, pictured with his wife, Lynn
C. John Eng, pictured with his wife, Lynn

Eng was born in York, Nebraska to Charles William and Ruth Elsa Eng. He grew up in Waco, Nebraska, a town of less than 300, where his father operated a small lumber yard and construction company. Eng and his two younger sisters worked for their father’s business, carrying and cleaning old bricks and straightening nails to use at their home, which they built themselves.

He attended college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with a construction management degree. His first job was at Peter Kiewit Son’s. Eng spent ten years working with Kiewit before working for Coffman White Engineers and then Howard S. Wright in Seattle. He moved to Alaska permanently in 1980, after joining Strand, Inc. of Seattle.

Eng and his partners started Cornerstone Construction in 1993. The company became one of Alaska’s largest contractors. Cornerstone’s first project was to build an addition to US Air Force headquarters on Elmendorf Air Force Base, and it went on to build many more US Army Corps of Engineers projects. Cornerstone partnered with Peter Kiewit to build a new Veterans’ Administration clinic in Anchorage and the Alaska Airlines Center at UAA. Cornerstone also worked with UAA, Providence Hospital, Alaska Regional Hospital, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and FedEx.

One of Eng’s proudest achievements was doing more than $400 million of construction, spread over dozens of jobs, without arbitration or litigation to settle a dispute. His conscientious and persuasive personality anticipated problems and solved them before they became trouble.

Eng sold his interest in Cornerstone in 2013 and took a three-year retirement before purchasing land near his grandfather’s ranch in South Dakota and building a subdivision with a new company, High Point Construction, which he founded with his wife, Lynn, to work in both Alaska and South Dakota.

Eng served as president of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska in 2013 and was a Lifetime member of the organization. Charitable giving was a habit and he gave generously to many organizations, including the Anchorage Rotary, the Alaska Sudan Medical Project, Sons of Norway, and many others. He endowed the C. John and Lynn Ann Eng Construction Management Scholarship at UAA, as well as a college scholarship program in his hometown of Waco.