Steven L. Beal, 1973-2020

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Steven L. Beal, 46, President and CEO of National Railway Equipment (NRE), died Saturday, July 11, at his home in Ladue, Mo..

“The NRE family is devastated by this tremendous loss,” NRE said in a statement. “A lifelong ‘railroad man,’ Steven had been in the industry since the age of 12, constantly learning the business from his father, Lawrence, who founded NRE in 1984. When Lawrence passed away in 2010, Steven was well-prepared to assume leadership of the company. He was a remarkable leader for the NRE family and a well-known and highly respected industry advocate.

“The only thing more important to Steven than NRE was his family, including his wife Erin and their two young children, his sister Susan Frangella and her husband Patrick, and Steven and Susan’s mother Sandra Beal. We offer them our heartfelt condolences and our unwavering support through this unthinkable tragedy. 

Rail Equipment Finance 2011: The late Tony Kruglkinski presents Steven Beal with an award honoring his father, Lawrence Beal, who died in 2010. William C. Vantuono photo.

“Headquartered in Mt. Vernon, Ill., employee-owned NRE is a global leader in the rail, marine and power industries, and is the world’s largest independent locomotive supplier. While we mourn NRE’s loss, company leadership remains committed to the Beal family legacy and to ensuring its continued success. To that end, the board has named long-time NRE leaders Patrick Frangella and Rob Riley, to serve as members of a newly formed executive committee to oversee all aspects of the company until a new, permanent CEO is selected.”

Steven and Erin Beal

“I had the pleasure of getting to know Steven Beal as he grew into his role as CEO of NRE after the unexpected passing of his father Lawrence Beal,” said David Nahass, President of Railroad Financial Corp. and Railway Age Financial Editor. “Steven carried himself differently than Lawrence, but had the same kind of thoughtful and contemplative way about him. He was proud of his father’s legacy and his ability to maintain and expand on the company started in his father’s garage so many years ago. During the downturn of 2016 while visiting with Steven at his Mt. Vernon facility, while he fretted over business volumes and global sales levels, at the core of Steven’s concerns was the people he employed. When NRE had to shut the Paducah NRE facility, he worked to keep it open as long as possible, and then when he was able to reopen that facility, he was happy to bring those jobs back to the community.

Steven was a consistent and constant presence at the annual Rail Equipment Finance Conference. William C. Vantuono photo.

“Steven was a great industry ambassador, and working with him, I could see the passion and intellect he brought to his job. His great joy, however, was his family, and the time he spent with them, his wife Erin and their children. He was a consistent and constant presence at the Rail Equipment Finance Conference. We will miss his charming smile, warm demeanor and openness to talk on any industry related topic.”

In light of COVID-19 public health concerns, the Beal family will hold a private, invitation-only service. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Camp Independence, a YMCA specialty camp for children and young adults with Spina Bifida, or the Little Bit Foundation, which helps underprivileged students in the St. Louis area. Memorials can also be received by mail to the Osborn Funeral Home, P. O. Box 130, Dix, Illinois 62830. Online condolences may be made on line or on the Osborn Funeral Home Facebook page.

According to local news reports, Ladue Police Chief Ken Andreski said Beal was found dead around 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 12. Officers, responding to a call, found him in a swimming pool at the Ladue home he shared with his wife. Andreski said there were no signs of foul play; the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office is currently determining the cause of death.

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