Amtrak employees, friends pay tribute at Boardman funeral

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Joe Boardman gets the engineer’s perspective of a Siemens ACS-64 electric on a test track at the Transportation Technolgy Center in Pueblo, Colo., on July 29, 2013. A significant number of Amtrak employees were on hand for Boardman's funeral Friday in Rome, N.Y.
Bob Johnston

ROME, N.Y. — More than a hundred current Amtrak employees, political leaders and friends attended Joe Boardman’s funeral service in Rome, N.Y., on Friday, drawn by what his younger brother, David, called the former Amtrak CEO’s “culture of honesty, integrity and forgiveness.”

Boardman died after suffering a stroke in Florida [see “Joe Boardman, former Amtrak president, dies,” Trains News Wire, March 7].

Most striking about those who made the trip to upstate New York on short notice was the cross-section of people he influenced. They included:

— Now-retired sleeping car and Beech Grove business car attendant Lou Drummeter

— Former FRA Administrator Joe Szabo

— VIA Rail Canada Chief Mechanical Officer Mario Bergeron, who had held the same position at Amtrak

— Current Amtrak Board of Directors member (and former Chairman) Tom Carper

— Empire Corridor engineer Brian Gallagher, who served as Boardman’s chief of staff

— Joe McHugh, Amtrak’s vice president, state-supported services business development

— Northeast Corridor Conductor Brian Eden, who also serves as the Vice Chairman of SMART Local 1470 in Washington, D.C.

A fitting tribute to Boardman’s contribution during his eight years leading Amtrak was one long blast of locomotive horns across the system at 11:01 a.m. EDT on Friday. Funeral attendees inside St. Paul’s Church were able to participate thanks to Matt Donnelly, Amtrak’s Washington, D.C., Lead Brand Communications Specialist who affixed horns off of a decommissioned F40PH to the roof of his car in the church parking lot [see “Locomotive horns blow for Boardman funeral,” Trains News Wire, March 15].

“The horn salute was very emotional,” U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) tells Trains News Wire. “Joe Boardman showed us that passengers come first and (Amtrak) is about connecting the country — the giant connector in Joe that had its roots right here at the Rome train station.”

Stephen Gardner, Senior Executive Vice President of Commercial, Marketing and Strategy Group, also attended the funeral, telling Trains News Wire that Boardman “respected everyone and people respected him for that. He was transparent, honest, and a straight shooter.”

The fact that so many people came and that rank-and-file employees around the system were saddened by Boardman’s death was expressed best by brother David Boardman's eulogy when he said, “Joe knew the maintenance people, ticket clerks, and new employees. A guy that high up in the food chain cared about every person at Amtrak.”  

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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