Mortimer L. Downey III, transportation legend, community activist, and public servant died at Sunrise of Hunter Mill in Fairfax, VA on November 2, 2023. Characteristically, he moved himself there when he learned he had pulmonary fibrosis six years ago. Supported by family and friends including the whole team at Sunrise, Mort continued engaging in local politics, advising on transportation, and continuing his education with Yale until the end of his life.
While public service in transportation personified Downey’s 65-year career, Mort said Downey said the public sector “was not my original choice. I interviewed with every bank and financial institution that was recruiting at Yale that year and none made an offer.”” Instead, Downey joined the Port of New York (now known as the Port of New York New Jersey), and immersed himself in the theory and process of management and operations.
Writing a paper on Robert Moses, Downey gained insight into the power of reading every document, legislation, testimony, contract, or transcript and of knitting them together into policy and programs across multiple agencies and projects. He also came to understand those processes that needed to be redefined to address equity and accountability. It is no surprise that the Moses paper and a course in Federal Budgeting and Financial Management became cornerstones in his career in transportation.
Read about Mortimer Downey’s legacy here.