Statement on the Passing of Former RPI President Bob Matthews

Word has come that Bob Matthews has passed away at the age of 86. For those of a certain age, you will remember Bob as the last president of RSI predecessor Railway Progress Institute (RPI). Bob joined RPI when it was a Chicago-based organization and was tasked to move the organization to Washington, D.C. He was named president in the early 1980s and continued in that role until his retirement in early 2002. 

Bob was arguably the face of the Supply industry and led the industry lobbying efforts against big trucks and coal slurry pipelines among other industry threatening issues. Under his leadership, RPI argued for increased investment in passenger rail as well as advanced train control systems, and led the supply quality assurance effort. During his tenure, RPI, Amtrak and the AAR created Operation Lifesaver, Inc. saving that important educational organization after it had been cut loose from the National Safety Council. Also during his tenure, the American Railway Car Institute and Coupler institute were merged into RPI. Finally, he gently and calmly presided over the annual bacchanal that was known as the RPI annual dinner. 

Almost 20 years later Bob’s legacy remains reflected by RSI’s strong Washington lobbying effort, the ARCI, Quality and Coupler committees and most importantly, by two wonderful RSI employees he hired – Robyn Leach and Nicole Brewin, who are still serving the RSI membership to this day.

As former AAR President Ed Hamberger said when he heard of Bob’s passing “he was a good man.” Rest In Peace Bob. 
 – Tom Simpson
Former President, Railway Supply Institute (Retired)

About the Railway Supply Institute (RSI)
The Railway Supply Institute (RSI) is dedicated to advancing safety, innovation, technology, and sustainability within the freight and passenger railway supplier industry, both in North America and global markets. As the voice of the industry, RSI strategically engages in critical and urgent industry matters by leveraging the technical expertise of our members to advocate in the legislative and regulatory arenas, foster education, host impactful events, and facilitate networking opportunities. For more information visit, follow RSI on Twitter and LinkedIn

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