How Did Urban Mass Transit Leader Die?


How Did Urban Mass Transit Leader Die?

Mortimer Downey death has saddened the Downey family and the transportation industry in the United States. How did he die?

Mortimer L. Downey III, also known as Mortimer Downey, was a prominent figure in the field of urban mass transit and the longest-serving U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

Downey served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, becoming lieutenant commander. Downey began his career in transportation at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he held various positions from 1960 to 1974.

He became the first transportation program analyst for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget.

From 1977 to 1981, he served as Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs in the Department of Transportation under President Jimmy Carter.

He then joined the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as executive director and chief financial officer, where he played a crucial role in creating and implementing the agency’s capital plan and improving its financial stability.

Mortimer received numerous awards and honors for his contributions, including the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive.

Likewise, he also won the National Academy of Public Administration’s National Public Service Award and the American Public Transportation Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

Mortimer Downey Death: How Did Urban Mass Transit Leader Die?

Mortimer Leo Downey III, a prominent figure in the field of urban mass transit and the longest-serving U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation, passed away on October 31, 2023, at the age of 87.

The Urban Mass Transit Leader died of complications from a stroke, according to his family. Downey was born on August 9, 1936, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Downey graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1958 and received a master’s of public administration from New York University in 1966.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation, a position he held until 2001.

He was the longest-serving person ever to hold the post. He oversaw significant initiatives such as the Interstate Highway System completion, the Amtrak reform, aviation modernization, and transportation security enhancement.

Mortimer L. Downey III, a nationally recognized leader in urban mass transit, was one of those appointees who died on November 2 at 87. (Image Source: The Washington Post)

He also served as Acting Secretary of Transportation for the first four days of the Bush administration, from January 21, 2001 to January 24, 2001.

After leaving public service, Downey became a transportation consultant and served on various boards and commissions related to transportation policy and planning.

He was on the Obama transition team and was considered as a possible Secretary of Transportation in the Obama Administration.

He also served on the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) from 2014 to 2016 and was its chair from January 2015 to January 2016.

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He faced many challenges during his tenure, such as the fatal Red Line crash in 2009, the chronic maintenance issues, the budget deficits, and the safety lapses that led to a federal takeover of oversight.

Downey was widely respected for his expertise, experience, and leadership in transportation.

Mortimer L. Downey III Obituary: A Life Dedicated to Transportation

Mortimer L. Downey, a dedicated public servant known for his contributions to improving transportation, has passed away at the age of 87.

He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Joyce Vander Meyden Downey, and two sons, Stephen Michael Downey and Christopher Sean Downey.

Likewise, his daughter-in-law Jennifer Downey, grandchildren Matthew, Katherine, Andrew, and Elizabeth Downey, sister-in-law Barbara Vander Meyden, and nephew David Vander Meyden were saddened by his death.

Mortimer Downey Obituary
Mortimer L. Downey III, who had his life dedicated to transportation, received numerous awards and honors. (Image Source: Washington Post)

The family expressed their deep sorrow and gratitude in a statement, remembering Mortimer as a remarkable man committed to public service and cherished family moments.

They thanked everyone for the outpouring of condolences and support during this challenging time.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to be made to various organizations, including the Mortimer L. Downey Scholarship Fund at Yale University, the Mortimer L. Downey Fellowship at New York University, and the Mortimer L. Downey Endowment Fund at WMATA.

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Mortimer Downey’s legacy will continue through these contributions, honoring his dedication to education and transportation improvement.

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