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In memoriam: Retired railway association public affairs head Bilanow

On Dec. 5, retired United States Railway Association public affairs director and former Washington Daily News columnist Alexander Bilanow died of congestive heart failure at his Bethesda, Md., home. He was 77.

A decorated World War II veteran, Bilanow served the United Auto Workers union as a freelance writer in 1949. Later that year, he joined the Washington Daily News as a copy boy, and served the newspaper 23 years as a reporter, editor and columnist until the paper closed in 1972.

From 1974 to 1986, Bilanow served as public affairs director for the railway association, a quasi-governmental agency created by Congress to oversee Conrail's creation and operation. From 1988 until his retirement in 1998, Bilanow served TTX Co. as head of public relations.

For the past 26 years, he also served as co-chairman of the Transportation Table, a non-profit professional group of transportation journalists, executives, consultants, attorneys and government officials, who meet semi-monthly at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Members noted Bilanow's wit and dry humor when introducing speakers and conducting question-and-answer periods.

In his spare time, he wrote children's plays — one of which earned a District of Columbia Department of Recreation award — was an avid reader and carved life-size wood figures of various birds.

Bilanow is survived by his partner of 13 years, Marilyn Newton, four children and two grandchildren. His wife of 40 years, Elizabeth, died in 1990.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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