Democratic News

With sorrow, we acknowledge the passing of former Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys, who died last week in a plane accident. Staff of the Senate Energy Committee remember Mr. Keys as an exceptional public servant and an all-around great guy.  On Wednesday, Chairman Bingaman added this tribute to the Congressional Record:


Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I rise today on a sad note -- to inform the Senate of the recent death of a model public servant who served our country well. John W. Keys III was the 16th Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. He served in that capacity from July 17, 2001, to April 15, 2006, and worked closely with the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which I have the privilege of chairing. Commissioner Keys retired two years ago to return to Utah and pursue his favorite pastimes, which included flying. Tragically, he was killed on May 30, 2008, when the airplane he was piloting crashed in Canyonlands National Park, UT, with one passenger aboard.

Commissioner Keys' appointment by President Bush to lead the Bureau of Reclamation was actually his second stint with the agency. He returned to Federal service after previously retiring from a 34-year career with Reclamation. During that time, he worked as a civil and hydraulic engineer in various positions throughout the western United States. Ultimately, he served as reclamation's Pacific Northwest regional director for 12 years before his initial retirement in 1998.

Commissioner Keys was a dedicated public servant whose knowledge, experience and demeanor were key factors in his successful leadership of the Bureau of Reclamation.  Those same skills, combined with his willingness to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis, were instrumental in addressing a wide range of water resource issues across the West. He will be sorely missed, but left a legacy of accomplishments that will ensure that he is long-remembered. I offer my condolences to his wife, Dell, and their daughters, Cathy and Robyn.

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