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Bill Stokes, BART’s visionary first employee was 89

Thursday, May 30, 2013

William Stokes with President Richard M. Nixon and his wife, Pat.

That’s former BART general manager B. R. “Bill” Stokes aboard a train with President Nixon and wife Pat in 1972, back when the transit system was still relatively shiny and new. Stokes, who was BART’s first employee and gave more than 300 speeches from 1958 to 1962 to help get the then-futuristic idea of linking the Bay Area via rapid transit off the drawing boards, died May 15 at his daughter’s home in Washington state. He was 89.

An urban affairs reporter at the Oakland Tribune when he was tapped for the BART project, Stokes’ vision, drive and determination was instrumental in seeing the nation’s largest locally-financed public works project brought to fruition. Obit at Oakland Tribune; also, the earlier announcement of his death via BART. 

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