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CEO DATELINE – Former AASHTO executive director dies

Feb. 23, 2021
By Kathryn Walson

Francis Francois, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials from 1980 to 1999, died Feb. 17 in Chicago at age 87.

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During his nearly 20 years leading AASHTO, Francois established the association as the premier technical organization for adopting and issuing highway standards and specifications, the association said in a statement. He also strengthened the association’s role in shaping national transportation policy, according to AASHTO.

The Engineering News-Record said Francois was instrumental in getting state departments of transportation to push for several major highway and transit bills, including the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. 

“Frank did a great job of encouraging increased collaboration between state transportation officials and the construction industry to advance infrastructure investment, as well as developing methods to deliver the product safely and efficiently,” Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, said in an emailed statement to ENR.

Born in Iowa in 1934, Francois had an engineering degree from Iowa State University and a law degree from George Washington University.

Before joining AASHTO, he was president of the National Association of Regional Councils and president of the National Association of Counties.

When he retired, AASHTO created the Francis B. Francois Award to recognize innovation by state departments of transportation.

In 2007, the Transportation Research Board awarded him the Frank Turner Medal for lifetime achievement in transportation.

Francois was married for 43 years to his wife Eileen, who died in 2003. He is survived by five children.