Dolph Briscoe Jr.
During his long and distinguished political career, Dolph Briscoe (UT ’43) served in the Texas Legislature from 1949 to 1957 and was governor from 1973 to 1979. As an elected leader, he pursued a goal of building and funding an extensive highway system.
In 1949, Representative Briscoe was co-sponsor of the Colson-Briscoe Act. Funded by a special appropriation, this act provided for the construction of a network of paved roads in rural areas to get the “farmer out of the mud.” The farm-to-market system now makes up over half of the TxDOT system, and it helped to conquer the vastness and deep isolation of rural Texas.
As governor, in 1975 he signed legislation merging the Texas Mass Transportation Commission into the Texas Highway Department, creating the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation. To cope with the impacts of inflation and inadequate highway funds, in 1977 the governor developed and led a proposal, which was enacted by the Legislature, addressing these concerns.
A distinguished alumnus of The University of Texas, Governor Briscoe has been inducted into both the Texas Business Hall of Fame and the Texas Good Roads and Transportation Association’s Hall of Honor.
B. L. DeBerry
Luther DeBerry (UT ’37) began work for the Texas Highway Department following his graduation. He became District Engineer in Lufkin and Dallas, and was named Assistant State Highway Engineer in 1968. He became the head of the department in 1973 and retired as Engineer-Director in 1980.
Luther guided the department through a challenging period of significant change. During his tenure, an Arab oil embargo and budget cuts led to drastic employee reductions and reorganization, and the Texas Mass Transportation Commission was merged into the department to create the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation.
His administrative skills and leadership guided the department through this difficult period. He was an early advocate of promoting all modes of transportation, saying: “We are not in the highway business. We are in the transportation business.” Mr. DeBerry was widely recognized as a man who represented both change and excellence through instituting unified planning and fostering a multimodal transportation program.
He received AASHTO’s highest award and was named as a distinguished engineering graduate of The University of Texas. In 1980, TxDOT established the Luther DeBerry Award to honor individuals in transportation organizations who make the greatest contributions to Texas.
Charley V. Wootan
Dr. Wootan (A&M ’50) joined the Texas Transportation Institute in 1956, and his career with TTI continued until his death in 2001. He became TTI’s director in 1976, serving in that capacity for 17 years. Upon his retirement in 1993, Dr. Wootan was named Director Emeritus by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
Dr. Wootan was very instrumental in growing the TxDOT cooperative research program from a brilliant concept to a nationally recognized program of excellence, and he became a respected national spokesperson for the value of transportation research. One of the founders of the Council of University Transportation Centers, Dr. Wootan became CUTC’s first president in 1979. Dr. Wootan was actively involved with the Transportation Research Board for over 40 years and was TRB chair in 1983. Dr. Wootan was the recipient of numerous awards given by state and national organizations to recognize his contributions to both transportation and research.
Under Dr. Wootan’s leadership, TTI became the largest and one of the most highly regarded university-affiliated transportation research organizations in this country. In recognition of his contributions to both transportation and the agency, TTI chose to name its most significant employee recognition in honor of Dr. Charley Wootan.
H. B. “Pat” Zachry
H.B. “Pat” Zachry (A&M ’22) founded the H.B. Zachry Company in Laredo in 1924. He would lead this construction company for six decades, serving as president (1924-1945), chairman and CEO (1945-1965), and chairman of the board from 1965 until his death in 1984.
Mr. Zachry’s vision and leadership made a lasting impact on Texas transportation. In addition to undertaking some of the largest transportation projects in Texas, the Zachry Company built highways, bridges, airstrips, dams, power plants and pipelines around the world.
Mr. Zachry served as president of the Associated General Contractors of America. His many, many honors included being named a distinguished alumnus of Texas A&M University, where he also chaired the Board of Regents. The university further recognized Zachry’s contributions by naming its Engineering Center for him in 1972. Mr. Zachry was inducted posthumously into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2000.
H.B. Zachry’s legacy is more than an impressive catalog of projects; he was known as a man of honesty, integrity and generosity. In the words of former Governor Briscoe: “Mr. Zachry was truly one of the greatest Texans of all time… No one has made a greater contribution to his fellow man.”