Amherst Magazine

Jonathan D. Boyer ’59

Jonathan D. Boyer ’59 died March 22, 2011.
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JONATHAN DAVID BOYER ’59

Jon passed away March 22, 2011, from pulmonary fibrosis. Classmates Claude Erbsen, John Hagmann, Bob Thomases and I attended a crowded service held in New York April 10, 2011.

 A political science major, Jon was an enthusiastic member of Delta Upsilon. He earned a graduate degree in economics at New York University in 1966.

Jon was a trains, planes and ships guy, following all with passion for detail. He reveled in research and analysis and held strong, thoughtfully considered opinions, drawing on a prodigious random-access memory bank. Extensive collections of transit and military-reference books backed up that ready resource.

Jon’s public-transit planning career at several government agencies and consultancies culminated with 30 years at Seelye Stevenson Value & Knecht in New York, where he brought liberal arts perspectives to a traditional engineering firm. He was an avid student of 12 decades of transit history, even while introducing the latest technology to operating and control systems.   His signature design for the Philadelphia Port Authority Transit Corp.’s automated fare-collection system was the first successful one in the nation.

After characteristically rigorous matrimonial investigation, Jon married Citibank executive Sally Brady in 1981. Confirmed city-dwellers, they elected not to mow grass, depend on an automobile, worry about home repairs or shepherd children or pets, allowing more time to pursue professional interests that were also Jon’s avocation. In our latest reunion compendium, he observed that he was “blessed to make my hobby a wonderful, lifelong career.”

Jon combined an ability to conceptualize succinctly with a penchant for thorough explanation. Colleagues praised him for honesty and integrity as well as obstinacy and cantankerousness in professional debate. He spoke with conviction and had little patience for those lacking factual support for their positions.

The Boyers were active arts patrons and travelers, lastly visiting the Baltic capitals to check out transit systems en route to theaters, galleries and museums. Jon lived a “life of consequence” in the Amherst tradition, an inspiration to all who knew him.

—George C. Betke Jr. ’59


 

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