Press Release Article


Date: Dec 08, 2014
Press Release Number: 244-2014

The late Ernesto L. Butcher honored for 41 years of exemplary service

The Port Authority today dedicated its Emergency Operations Center – where agency staff coordinate operations during major emergencies like Superstorm Sandy – to its longtime Chief Operating Officer and 41-year career public servant, the late Ernesto L. Butcher.  A plaque to honor Mr. Butcher’s memory will be placed at the Emergency Operations Center at the Port Authority Technical Center in Jersey City and in the  Board Room at 4 World Trade Center, the Port Authority’s new headquarters.

During a ceremony at the newly dedicated Ernesto L. Butcher Emergency Operations Center, Port Authority Chairman John Degnan lauded Mr. Butcher’s service to the agency, including his efforts to rally his colleagues and reopen key transportation facilities following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Mr. Butcher died earlier this year, two years after retiring from the agency.

Mr. Butcher’s widow, Kristen Peck Butcher, spoke in acknowledgement of the memorial to her husband, and one of his closest agency colleagues – former Chief Financial Officer A. Paul Blanco – offered a remembrance of Mr. Butcher.  Both men started their careers at the agency in the early 1970s and rose through the ranks to major leadership positions.

When not at work, Mr. Butcher was an accomplished poet and his daughter, Mijha Godfrey, read one of his poems at the ceremony entitled “We Are As Stars.”

“Today’s dedication will ensure that Ernesto Butcher is forever remembered as one of the most dedicated, exemplary public servants in the Port Authority’s storied history,” said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan.  “His mastery of Port Authority operations was second to none, but perhaps more remarkable was his ability to lead with extraordinary poise and grace under extremely trying and difficult circumstances.  He will be missed, but his legacy will live on.”

“Ernesto truly embodied the spirit and determination of the thousands of men and women that work day in and day out to operate our facilities and keep this region moving,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler.  “Today’s dedication will ensure that Ernesto’s spirit and determination will never be forgotten.”

Mr. Butcher’s Port Authority career spanned more than 40 years. He started at the Port Authority in 1971 as a Management Trainee and progressively rose through its ranks as General Manager of the George Washington Bridge; General Manager of the Port Authority Bus Terminal; Assistant Director of Operations in Tunnels, Bridges & Terminals; Deputy Director, General Services Department; Deputy Director, Interstate Transportation Department; Director, Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals; and Deputy Executive Director for Operations.

In 1999, Butcher was appointed the Port Authority's Chief Operating Officer, with broad responsibility for the agency's airports, ports, tunnels, bridges and terminals, and the PATH system, as well as security and public safety operations.  He retired in 2012.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit

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