Almost 90 and Still Working for Change
Houston “Tex” Elam, the newest member of Via’s Board of Directors, has been very successful in at least two careers. One in education and another in transportation.
He has several advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. from New York University’s Graduate School of Business Administration, which he attended with a fellowship from the Ford Foundation. His Pd.D. led to a successful academic career teaching marketing and management in universities and writing books. One of them, “Marketing for the Non-marketing Executive,” became a best seller in the business category in 1978. Tex also worked as a consultant.
Then, at the age of 63, he retired and focused on community service.
By then, Tex and his wife were living in Colorado. As someone who is legally blind — he sees about 10% of what a typical, sighted person sees — he was interested in how communities provide or fail to provide transportation, especially for people who do not drive because of age or a disability. Tex spent most of his life in cities on the East Coast (he’s never lived in Texas, but that’s another story), where extensive public transit systems made it possible for him to get an education and have a career and an active life.
But in the West, his transportation options were limited, leaving him and others who don’t drive without mobility. Using his knowledge of how to institute change in organizations, Tex got busy.
When the City of Centennial was created in 2001, he volunteered to serve as its Director of Community Mobility Services, a position he created and filled for six years. He was one of the founders and the first President of the Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC), whose mission is to promote mobility and access for all.
In his calling as an advocate for those with limited mobility, Tex has been an advisor to many organizations, such as the Littleton Transportation Network, and continues to serve on the Advisory Committee on Aging to the Denver Regional Council on Governments (DRCOG).
So far, Tex’s “retirement” has been full of accomplishments. But soon, as Tex puts it, his identical twin (who does live in Texas) will celebrate his 90th birthday. As for Tex, he’s still concerned about the needs of those with limited mobility.
With the onset of the Covid epidemic, the number of service providers in the Denver Metro region shrank, leaving RTD’s Access-a-Ride and Via Mobility Services as the main providers of paratransit. At the same time, local governments lost revenues and started cutting transportation budgets, leaving a growing need for more mobility services.
As a result, Tex has once again stepped up to advocate for those who need transportation to access resources, including jobs, and live as part of the community.
“I think there’s a role,” Tex said, “even at my age, that I can play to make a difference. I can help Via with its expansion efforts in the Denver Metro region. We have a great need here in Arapahoe County and throughout the Denver area for Via’s services, and that’s what interested me in joining the Board.”
Via staff and Board members are thankful to have Tex on board as we implement a new Strategic Plan to expand the amount of paratransit service we can provide throughout the Denver Metro area and along the northern Front Range.
To read Via’s Strategic Plan for increasing its capacity to provide more paratransit service and addressing climate change, see https://adobe.ly/3BqQKuG.