The death of Russell Train, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection, merits the sometimes overused phrase: the end of an era.
I am among the many who have been inspired by his tremendous dedication to environmental protection, the living legacy he crafted. His oral history recollections, recorded by the USEPA, are valuable not only as an account of the history of an important time, but also for the enduring wisdom he shares about managing one’s work and life.
Among other aspects, his career is notable for his change, at midlife, from a secure position as a tax judge, to the more precarious world of not-for-profit management in a then-emerging field, as well as politics.
Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune places Mr. Train’s career in the context of the apogee and subsequent decline of the Republican Party’s environmental tradition. As one who served in a successor generation in that tradition, and is now an Independent, I too lament its passing. Rather than benefiting from the give-and-take of constructive partisan competition and innovation, environment-energy issues have become subsumed in the divisive, status-quo-driven interest group politics of our time.
Mr. Train was as influential and inspirational in person as on the pages of a history book. The words courtly and gentleman are memorably apt. His old-school manners cloaked a steely determination. rendering him all the more formidable in action.
Theodore Roosevelt often stated that the greatest legacy of anyone would ultimately be found less in what they did–as important as that may be–and more in the person they became through through their approach to living.
No one is more worthy of TR’s tribute than the Hon. Russell E. Train.
Russell Train, RIP