The local real estate community is mourning the loss of two prominent businessmen, partners, and friends, after the deaths of Ralph F. Brower, 82, on Dec. 16 and Fredrick J. Kissinger on Dec. 22.
Brower and Kissinger were partners in Kissinger, Bigatel and Brower Realtors, which was formed with KBB Broker of Record Mark Bigatel in 1993. The company has been instrumental in the development of the Centre Region since its very early roots in 1933.
“Everyone is sure going to miss them,” Bigatel told The Centre County Gazette. “They were very good business people and they were very good at what they did. They loved the community they lived in, and they did whatever they could to make things better. They did a lot for State College and the surrounding area … both in and out of the real estate business.”
According to Bigatel, Kissinger started selling real estate in 1964 when he joined his father, Gordon, at the Gordon D. Kissinger Agency. He said Brower first entered the workforce as an insurance salesman, and later, began working with his father-in-law, J. Alvin Hawbaker, in development, doing odd jobs, such as holding open houses on new construction. In the mid 1960s, he started Ralph F. Brower Realtors, which eventually merged with Kissinger’s firm in 1983.
Ten years later, in 1993, the two merged with Bigatel and Associated Realty to form the existing company.
“I learned a lot from both gentlemen,” remarked Bigatel. “They took that ‘old school’ approach to business and like to do it on the golf course. I’m sure most of all the deals they made were shook upon at Centre Hills Country Club.”
He said Kissinger and Brower were not only great-minded business people, but they also involved themselves in their community.
“(Brower) was heavily involved with the hospital and spent a lot of time working with the hospital’s board of directors to make improvements to local health care,” said Bigatel. “(Kissinger) was a little more quiet about his philanthropy. He gave a lot to organizations benefiting under-privileged children and disabled people.”
According to Kissinger’s obituary, his professional memberships included the National Association of Realtors, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Centre County Association of Realtors (president in 1969), Realtors National Marketing Institute and an honorary member of Rho Epsilon (PSU), a national honorary real estate fraternity. He was a founding member and former vice chairman and treasurer of the Centre County Housing Authority. He was also a board member of the Brockerhoff House Corporation.
Kissinger served with the 112th Aircraft Control and Warning Flight in Buchel, Germany, with the Pennsylvania National Guard. He served 10 months in Germany during the Berlin Wall crisis.
He enjoyed traveling, playing golf and antique vehicles. He was an avid sports fan and strong supporter of Penn State athletics.
Kissinger is survived by three children, John G. Kissinger, Brian F.M. Kissinger and his wife, Chloe, and Colleen A. Seehafer and her husband, Bradlee; two grandchildren, Amber and Frederick; and a brother, Richard G. Kissinger.
Brower was involved in the early development of Park Forest Village and has been a member of CCAR since 1960. He served as the board’s president in 1968 and 1983. He served as president of the State College Area Chamber of Commerce in 1976 and was past president of the State College Lions Club.
He attended Penn State University after serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
He and his wife, Joan Hawbaker, were longtime members of the Nittany Lion Club and Penn State Hoops Club. He also enjoyed playing golf, traveling to antique shows and auctions and collecting local postcards and memorabilia.
In addition to his wife, Brower is survived by a son, Michael, and his wife, Nancy; a daughter, Melissa; two grandchildren, Amy and Todd Brower; and two siblings, Jane Ann Nickel and Richard Brower.