A tribute with PHOTOS to RailPAC’s outgoing, one-of-a-kind former Executive Director, by Russ Jackson
We first met Richard L. Silver sometime around 1995. RailPAC was still a small, but noisy, organization of rail advocates who were speaking our minds on California and Amtrak national issues. Alan Wimmergren was president, founders Byron Nordberg and Dr. Adrian Herzog, all now deceased, were very active in promoting our ideas.
The newsletter, Rail Passenger Review, which I edited, was still only six half-pages and came out six times a year. Most of the membership was in Southern California.
One Saturday we all gathered for one of Alan’s monthly RailPAC meetings at Los Angeles Union Station when Ric walked up and joined in the conversation. He had come from Northern California to meet us as he said, he liked what we were saying about rail issues. Within an hour we learned everything we didn’t know about rail issues in Northern California, and invited him into the group. He went right to work recruiting new members, something we had not been as good at as we should have. At the next RailPAC meeting, held in Fullerton at the Trainweb office, we asked him to formally become Executive Director. He accepted, and has served in that capacity continuously, helping guide us through the days of growth of rail programs in California while we advocated sensible, not just fast growth.
Ric Silver greeting guests at a State Capitol meeting.
We are a better organization for the work Ric Silver has done. We came to learn about his ability to contact people he knew in Sacramento where he forged ties with them that we need. As RailPAC Director, Bruce Jenkins, says, “He had a knack for lobbying Sacramento, and his gift of oratory always impressed me as did his sense of humor.” People always take calls from Ric Silver, knowing his devotion to rail advocacy and want to hear what he has to say.
(l-r) Amtrak’s Gil Mallery, Ric Silver, Capitol Corridor’s Gene Skoropowski at a State Capitol ceremony.
I remember following him through the State Capitol one day while he distributed some of our position statements. He knew everyone and where everything was in that building. It was quite a fun experience to ride the trains with him to meetings of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee, the Capitol Corridor JPB, the CA High Speed Rail Authority, and go to other rail events where he spoke the language the members of those groups could understand.
Ric Silver with CAHSRA’s Dan Leavitt. We are a much larger organization thanks to the work Ric has done, and he brought in a very dedicated group of fellow advocates from all over the state, many of whom now sit on the RailPAC Board of Directors.
Ric Silver with RailPAC President Paul Dyson getting the 2008 Annual Meeting started.
Our “Annual Meetings” have grown into major events for rail supporters, and the work of organizing them has fallen on Ric’s experienced shoulders. As current President Paul Dyson says in his letter to Ric, “Without your enthusiasm and energy we doubt that RailPAC would have survived to continue the campaign.”
We are confident that despite his leaving the job as Executive Director he will continue to be a rail advocate and speak his informed mind on issues. He earned and deserves the Honorary Life Membership the RailPAC Board conveyed on him. We look forward to having him with us in that spirit for a long time and wish him well.