July 8, 2014

Ken Uznanski, Nationally-Respected Passenger Rail Leader, Passes Away

While several individuals deserve credit for Washington state’s successful rail passenger program, none more than Mr. Ken Uznanski, fine husband, father, and manager and guiding light of the WSDOT’s Rail Office (now Rail Division) for many years. From the viewpoint of one who worked very closely with Ken, I knew his managing of Washington State’s rail program was not just a job, it was a calling. He knew all aspects of what the work entailed, worked with uncommon diligence to lead a loyal crew to where Washington was judged throughout our country as having among the very best state-level passenger rail programs.

There is another article on our webpage with a July 7 “Train Orders” tribute for Ken by rail consultant Tom White. Ken’s many tangible rail achievements are there summarized, so they won’t be repeated here.

During Ken’s years as Rail Manager, I had open access to him at all times. My job was to help carry his message to the Legislature, civic and community leaders, and members of Congress. A mutual trust was present and total. Ken understood that an independent rail advocate could often approach elected officials and other influentials in a way public employees or others with narrower corporate or institutional interests could not as easily do.

In addition to family, church and profession, Ken had another passion, his Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame. Ken’s broadest smiles were following yet another victory for the Fighting Irish.

Severe health issues kept Ken from active professional rail efforts in the past couple of years, but his successes in behalf of intercity passenger train service in our Northwest Corridor is an ongoing legacy of his work in Olympia.

May God bless Ken Uznanski and his family. The rail community in the Northwest and beyond gives thanks for Ken’s work and his friendship.