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Michael LeJong, Nationally Recognized Architect from Fort Smith, dies of COVID-19

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Michael LeJong, 49, died of COVID-19 on Monday. He was an accomplished architect who worked on many major buildings across the state.

Michael LeJong has done his work in architecture across the state. He died on Monday after fighting COVID-19. He was 49.

Originally from Greenwood, LeJong was a senior architect at MAHG Architecture in Fort Smith, where he had worked since 1999.

LeJong graduated from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas in 1996 and remained an active alumnus.

Some of his work included designs on the University of Arkansas campus. According to his obituary, he was the architect of the $ 55 million Windgate Studio and Design Center.

LeJong handled the construction management of the projects at Kimpel Hall and the University of Arkansas basketball performance center, said Galen Hunter, another senior architect at MAHG Architecture.

His most recent work has included the Van Buren Arts and Education Center and Northside High School renovations.

LeJong was also the past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the current president of the State Board of Architects, which governs the licensing of architects, interior designers, and landscape designers.

“He was a leader in his profession,” said Hunter.

Ethel Goodstein-Murphree, assistant dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, said LeJong’s influence is felt across the state and across the country.

The LeJong colleagues agree that he was a kind and hardworking person.

“He was a very kind person. Everything he did was out of concern, ethics and professionalism, “said Goodstein-Murphree.

One architect, Wesley Walls, described LeJong as reliable and competent both professionally and personally.

“He was a friend to everyone,” said Walls.

Walls said LeJong was interested in how architects could give back to their communities.

“He always believed that architecture can make a real difference in the built environment,” said Marlon Blackwell, LeJong’s professor at the University of Arkansas.

Blackwell said part of the tragedy of LeJong’s death is that he still had a career ahead of him.

“His trajectory was clearly upwards and that makes the whole thing even more tragic because he got nipped in the bud a bit there. So yeah, I think he would just have climbed to ever greater heights, “Blackwell said.

But despite LeJong’s huge successes, he remained humble, Blackwell said.

“He really lived a full life, literally devoted to the cause of architecture,” said Blackwell.

Hunter said that LeJong has a passion for life.

“He took life by the horns somehow,” said Hunter.

LeJong leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

“It’s hard to imagine he’s gone,” said Walls. “He was a healthy, vibrant young man, just a few years younger than me, and he had a whole world in front of him and I was, I was excited,” see where he and his company have grown and he is going to be great will be missed, and I mean that not only professionally, but above all personally, I will miss my boyfriend. “

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