I had the good fortune this week to have been invited to attend the dedication of the MBTA’s Legal Conference Room in memory of Bill Mitchell. You all know that he served the MBTA with distinction for 17 years, including a time as General Manager. I was thrilled to attend and glad to be a part of a very nice event that included Bill’s family.
At the ceremony, I remarked that Bill was a lawyer’s lawyer, a gentleman’s gentleman, and a friend’s friend. Several who spoke made similar comments about Bill – how he was always a professional, how he was a mentor to many of us, and how universally respected he was. At a time when we seldom take the time, we had gathered from many different places to celebrate and to share stories about who Bill was as a person. And by that measure, he was a giant.
The day got me thinking to the times I spent with Bill when he was GM and I was Secretary. Inevitably, the conversation came around to back in the day stories about state transportation at a time when relationships between the agencies were not good – indeed how they were sometimes outright hostile, how transportation reform had made us focus on and pay attention to those relationships, and how that was a critical part of what we were both trying to do. It also reminded me of the absolutely critical role that Bill Mitchell, the person, played to end those hostilities. When asked, I tell people that is transportation reform’s greatest success.
Those of us who were privileged to know Bill already miss him. Those of you who didn’t know him should know of the legacy he left – a legacy that stands for what it really means to be a friend and a colleague, and a legacy that is now documented in a conference room at 10 Park Plaza. Pretty good stuff, I would say.
Bravo to you Bill Mitchell. Rest in peace, my good friend.