In memoriam: Gil Carmichael

Like many of you, I was saddened last month to learn that Gil Carmichael had died. He was 88.

I certainly would have liked to talk with him one more time. But I'm fortunate to have known the former Federal Railroad Administrator, intermodal advocate and transportation visionary — to have counted him as a colleague (he was a Progressive Railroading columnist for 10 years) and to have learned from him. The learning extended beyond the transport realm.

Ever the gentleman, Gil was uncommonly gracious, as noted in my March issue column. If he disagreed with you, you'd know it, but he'd try to dissuade without being dismissive — to prod without pushing too hard.

Gil also was an optimist, or at least he was when he talked with me about the big-transportation picture. Even when, perhaps especially when, others weren't feeling particularly positive about where the intermodal evolution was headed.

"I hope I'm not a Pollyanna, but I believe we're beginning to move forward," he told me after writing his last column for us in 2002. "People like myself just have to keep pushing."

And push Gil did. He nudged the needle. He helped keep us moving. And I am/we are better for it.

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