AUSTIN — The late Charley V. Wootan, former Director Emeritus of Texas Transportation and long time civic leader, was among four prominent Texans inducted into the Transportation Hall of Honor on Monday.
The other honorees include:
- The Honorable Dolph Briscoe Jr., former governor of Texas,
- Luther DeBerry, former engineer-director of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (now the Texas Department of Transportation), and
- The late H.B. Zachry, founder of the H.B. Zachry Company.
During a ceremony in Austin on Monday, Wootan’s honor was accepted by his widow, Doxie Wootan, and Zachry’s honor was accepted by his son, H.B. Zachry Jr, while Briscoe and DeBerry accepted their honors.
The Texas Transportation Hall of Honor, established in 2000, was set up to recognize in a formal and permanent manner those visionary leaders who have helped to provide Texas with an outstanding transportation system.
“The Hall of Honor is intended to recognize that small group of people whose exceptional leadership and vision made possible the outstanding transportation system we enjoy today in Texas,” TTI Deputy Director Dennis Christiansen said in announcing the inductees. “We’re proud and thankful to recognize these four great leaders for what they’ve given to the people of Texas and the nation.”
Wootan joined TTI in 1956 and served as director from 1976 until his retirement in 1993, although he continued to remain active in the Institute’s administration and other leadership roles until his death in 2001. Wootan was considered to be a brilliant visionary and a nationally respected advocate for transportation research. He was a founder of the Council of University Transportation Centers and was active with the Transportation Research Board for more than 40 years, serving as chairman of that organization in 1983. “Charley was, without doubt, one of the most recognized national leaders in transportation research. Under his leadership, TTI grew to become, by far, the largest university transportation research center in the country,” Christensen said. “The recognition of being inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor is certainly well deserved.”
During his political career, Briscoe served in the state legislature from 1949 to 1957 and was governor from 1973 until 1979. His legislative efforts helped lead to the construction of what became known as the farm-to-market rural highway system. As governor, he signed legislation that created the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation and expanded the role of that agency to help the state cope with growing transportation demands at a time of high inflation and limited highway funding. He is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas.
DeBerry served the state’s transportation department from 1937 until he retired as the chief executive of the department in 1980. DeBerry is credited with guiding the department through a period of significant change, highlighted by the Arab oil embargo, drastic budget cuts and major reorganization of the state¿s transportation agencies. An advocate of multi-modal transportation planning, DeBerry was regarded as a leader who embraced change and promoted excellence. He was among the first state leaders to say: “We are not in the highway business; we are in the transportation business.”
Zachry founded the H.B. Zachry Co. in Laredo in 1924 and guided the company through six decades, making it one of the most prominent builders of highways, bridges, dams, airstrips, power plants and pipelines in the world. Fellow leaders have praised Zachry’s honesty, integrity and generosity, noting that his vision and leadership have left a lasting impact on Texas transportation. He is a distinguished alumnus of Texas A&M University, where he served as chairman of the University System Board of Regents.
Other transportation leaders joining Christiansen in the recognition ceremony included: John W. Johnson, Commissioner of Transportation for the State of Texas, Tom Johnson, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of Texas; Mark Goode, retired TxDOT engineer-director; Doug Pitcock, chairman of Williams Brothers Construction; and Marcus Yancey, retired deputy engineer-director of TxDOT.