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Drew Lewis, former U.S. transportation secretary and UP chief, dies

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Andrew "Drew" Lewis Jr., who served as head of Union Pacific Railroad in the 1980s and 1990s, died Feb. 10 in Prescott, Ariz. He was 84.

As transportation secretary under President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, Lewis led contract negotiations with the air traffic controllers' union when many of its members went on strike. He created a plan to keep planes temporarily flying during the strike.

He served as served as UP chairman and chief executive officer from April 1986 to April 1987, and as UP's president and CEO from 1987 to 1997. He played a central role in the UP leadership team that completed key mergers, including the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad in 1988, the Chicago & North Western Railroad in 1995 and the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1996, UP officials said in a press release.

Lewis joined UP from Warner Amex Cable Communications where he served as chairman and CEO. His business career also included roles with American Olean Tile, Simplex Wire and Cable, National Gypsum Co. and Snelling & Snelling Inc. After Reading Railroad declared bankruptcy in 1971, Lewis oversaw the company's reorganization. His career began in 1955 with Henkels & McCoy Inc.

Lewis was active in politics for much of his adult life. He was Richard Schweiker's campaign manager during Schweiker's successful runs for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Lewis himself was the Republican nominee in Pennsylvania's 1974 governor race, and later held leadership roles in Reagan's presidential campaign and with the Republican National Committee.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Marilyn; two sons, a daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to an obituary published in The New York Times.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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