Ernest “Ernie” M. Briel, Jr.

Born March 27, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama
Departed June 22, 2023 in Melbourne, Florida

Ernest “Ernie” M. Briel, Jr., 90, of Melbourne, Florida passed away peacefully on June 22, 2023 surrounded by his loving family. He was born March 27, 1933 to Lalla and Ernest Briel, Sr., in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ernie was preceded in death by his loving wife of 68 years, Patricia Howard Briel, who he adored and missed very much. He is survived by his four sons, Robert (Peggy), Kenneth (Cynthia), James (Krista), and Richard (Theresa), seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and his brother Raymond (Glenda).

Ernie graduated from Clemson University in 1956 with a Bachelors of Civil Engineering. He was commissioned into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant after his graduation from Clemson. Upon leaving the Army, Ernie worked for a couple of engineering firms, one of which was Brown Engineering located in Huntsville, Alabama. At Brown, Ernie accepted a position at Cape Canaveral where he provided facility engineering assistance to NASA. As the only structural engineer on Brown’s team, Ernie first worked on the Saturn program, which led to his close involvement with the Army Corps of Engineers on designing all facilities for the Apollo program. He was responsible for the conceptual design of the Vehicle Assembly Building “VAB” as well as being instrumental in designing Launch Complex 39 facilities including the Launch Control Center and Launch Pad.

In 1969, Ernie teamed up with Harrison “Harry” Rhame, Raymond “Mickey” Poynter and Lyle Houser to form BRPH Architects – Engineers, Inc. Ernie, serving as President and CEO, led the company to the world-class company it is today. During nearly 40 years as the head of BRPH, the company completed projects such as NASA’s launch pad operating systems for the Space Shuttle program and rocket launch complex on Wallops Island, Virginia, worldwide satellite ground stations for Harris Corporation, and several projects for the Department of Defense. Ernie’s most memorable and challenging project though was the launch complex in Kodiak for the State of Alaska. He retired from the company in 2002 and continued to serve as a consultant for several years after.

Ernie achieved many distinctions in his lifetime including receiving his MBA from F.I.T. in 1985. He was the recipient of the prestigious Debus Award from the National Space Club, the NASA Public Service Medal, and the Junior Achievement Laureate Medal. He served as President of the United Way – Florida Section, American Society of Civil Engineers, Clemson University Foundation Board and served on the Board of Directors of several local banking institutions.

In his free time, Ernie enjoyed his annual fishing trips to Marathon Key with his wife Pat by his side, horseback riding in Colorado, sports car racing and sailing. He was also a huge fan of his Alma Mater, Clemson University, where he attended many of their sporting events throughout the years. But most of all, Ernie was a family man and he cherished the time that he spent with his beloved wife Pat and his four sons and their families.

Ernie requested a celebration of life in his honor as opposed to traditional funeral services. We request all of Ernie’s loved ones to join the family in celebrating his wonderful life at the Eastminster Presbyterian Church located at 106 N. Riverside Drive in Indialantic on July 22, 2023 at 11 am, with a short reception to follow in the church hall.

Guestbook Entry

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2 entries.
William C. Potter from Indialantic wrote on July 15, 2023:
Ernie was a wonderful friend and colleague. I was fortunate and privileged to have both a personal and professional relationship with Ernie. Ernie was a man of extraordinary integrity who demonstrated all of the best qualities as a leader of his business and his community. His passing leaves a void in our community.
Mary Carol & Mickey Poynter from Melbourne wrote on July 12, 2023:
We will miss him greatly! He was an extraordinary man to work with kind, generous and brilliant!!!
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