The Kansas City nonprofit and arts community is mourning the loss of Steve Metzler, who died Tuesday of what friends said was a massive stroke.
Metzler, along with his partner, Brian Williams, was a well-known and generous supporter of many nonprofit causes and arts organizations.
“Steve was a force of nature — and always for good,” said Evie Craig, chief executive of reStart Inc., in one of many tributes that quickly appeared on Facebook.
A second-generation co-owner of Metzler Brothers Insurance, an independent agency until it was sold in 2013 to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Metzler specialized in business and in philanthropy in serving not-for-profit organizations.
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A co-founder of the Friends of Alvin Ailey, Metzler also supported the Kansas City Art Institute, the Heartland Men’s Chorus, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the AIDS Service Foundation and AIDS Walk, SAVE Inc., DIFFA, and the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce among other area agencies and events. He and Williams opened their home to many fundraising events.
Metzler, chairman of the art institute’s board of trustees since 2012, most notably stepped in to serve as interim president of the college from August to December last year after its former president resigned.
Tony Jones, the current interim president, said of Metzler, “He was a thoughtful, kindly presence among us, and he is quite simply irreplaceable. All of us will miss him, but as we think of him and honor the example of his life, I believe all of us will strive to give our very best, with joy and enthusiasm, to the organizations and causes closest to our hearts.”
Metzler’s death was described as “a huge loss for so many nonprofits he so diligently served,” wrote Cindy Worthy, executive director of the Executive Service Corps of Greater Kansas City, in another Facebook post. “He was a gift to the community.”