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Bob Young was a builder.
As a young pipefitter, he made structures whole.
As a D-Day and Battle of the Bulge infantryman, he was a courageous member of the “Greatest Generation” who made American victorious, winning a Bronze Star for bravery.
As a state legislator, he was a founding parent for both the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the St. Louis Community Colleges.
As a congressman, he was the force behind the first Metrolink line, Interstate 170, and the Mel Price Locks and Dam in Alton.
Bob Young was also a craftsman. Nobody was more adept at working the legislative process to gather support for a project. Want a light rail line but do not have the money to build it? Bob Young took on that mission, finding an abandoned right of way here, an underutilized bridge there, an empty tunnel under Downtown St. Louis. He bundled them together to provide the match for real federal dollars and, presto, St. Louis had its rapid transit.
Bob Young was not an eloquent speaker but he was an exquisite doer. He delivered concrete actions, not empty rhetoric.
Congressman Young passed away last week after an extraordinary career serving the St. Louis region. His legacy, however, lives on in the tens of thousands of students who now have access to public higher education and the millions riding Metrolink.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.