Alan Boyd, First U.S. Transportation Secretary, Dies at 98

Alan Stephenson Boyd, who served as the first U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 1967-1969, died yesterday at age 98, according to his son Mark.

At the time of his death, Sec. Boyd was the senior living U.S. Cabinet official, having been confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office in January 1967.

Alan Boyd was born on July 20, 1922 in Jacksonville, Florida. On his mother’s side, he was the great-grandson of John G. Stephenson, the inventor of the streetcar, and he grew up dividing his time between Macclenny, Florida and staying with Stephenson relatives in New York and Massachusetts.

During World War II, he flew a C-47 for the Army Air Corps, dropping paratroopers in the D-Day invasion and Operation Market Garden and dropping supplies over Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. He was recalled to active duty in the Korean War as well.

Secretary Boyd received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1948 and began private practice in Miami, but later took a job with the Florida State Turnpike Authority, which then led to his serving multiple terms on the Florida Railroad and Public Utilities Commission starting in 1953.

He moved to Washington in 1959 to serve as a member of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board under President Eisenhower and chaired the Board under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

In 1965, he was named Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Transportation and in this capacity, he co-chaired the Johnson Administration task force that recommended the creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Transportation and helped shepherd the DOT bill through Congress.

After organizing and staffing the new DOT (and transferring responsibility for urban mass transit away from HUD in 1968), Secretary Boyd left government at the end of the Johnson Administration and served as president of the Illinois Central Railroad from 1970 to 1977.

In 1977, Secretary Boyd returned briefly to government, serving as President Carter’s special representative, with the personal rank of Ambassador, to negotiate a new U.S.—U.K. bilateral aviation agreement (the “Bermuda II agreement”).

Secretary Boyd then served as president of Amtrak from April 1978 to June 1982, and then became chairman and president of the North American subsidiary of Airbus Industrie from 1982 to 1992.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 64 years, Flavil Townsend Boyd. His survivors include his son Mark Boyd, daughter-in-law Nancy Boyd, and grandchildren Heather and Alan.

For more information on Secretary Boyd, see this 2016 review/summary of his autobiography, his four-part oral history interview with the LBJ Library in 1968 and 1969 (pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4), and this three-part 2016 interview (pt1, pt2, pt3).

An email about Alan Boyd’s passing incorrectly said “Alan Boyd Dies at 89” rather than “Alan Boyd Dies at 98.” Eno regrets the error.

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