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Final Flight - Joe Egan

May 8, 2008

By Mark "Bunny" Bundick

Writing an obituary is the worst job an NAR President can have.

The NAR's lead counsel, Joe Egan, one of the nation’s top nuclear attorneys and a fellow rocketeer, died May 7, 2008, of gastro-esophageal cancer. He was 53 years old, and leaves behind wife Patricia, daughter Jennifer, and son Warren.

The son of turkey farmer Dick Egan and his wife Lucy from Melrose, Joe made his way to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning three degrees, in physics, nuclear engineering, and technology & policy. He was also captain of MIT's varsity track team and an accomplished concert pianist. After working in the control room of a nuclear power plant and consulting on policy issues for the United Nations and other organizations, he attended law school at Columbia University, where he graduated with honors and went on to practice nuclear law.

Joe walked into the NAR Board meeting in Phoenix in 1992 in response to a call for a volunteer lawyer for the NAR. He proclaimed "I think you have a problem with the FAA and I think I can help." Working then for Shaw Pittman in Washington, D.C, legal counsel to many US airlines, he secure nearly a quarter million dollars of pro-bono work that resulted in changes to Federal Air Regulation Part 101 to permit notification launches. Many NAR sections and TARC launch makes use of the rule changes Joe secured every year. In 1999, Joe came back to us to lead the legal effort to stop the unnecessary and illegal regulation of APCP motors by the BATFE, an effort that he developed the strategy for and led up until his untimely death.

Since the litigation began, Joe and I worked closely together. I came to know him, and respect his legal skills. Any lawyer who can pass the bar exam can read and understand the law. A good lawyer can figure out how the law applies to and can be turned to the advantage of his client. But a great lawyer can do both those things and explain it to his client in English. Joe Egan was a great lawyer.

But more than that, NAR members need to remember that, before he was a lawyer, Joe was trained as an engineer, and that rocketry was a hobby from his youth. Whenever we got together for dinner prior to a court hearing, before we settled into the business at hand, there was always time to talk about rockets. Having your lawyer share the knowledge of your activity, to say nothing of the passion of its practice, is an uncommon, unique experience. It’s those rocketry times, more than anything else, that I’ll treasure from my time with Joe.

Joe often spoke of the party he would host when we win our litigation. He and I agreed to share a toast there to the effort, both its success and the rightness of our cause. That I will not be able to share that toast with him is a most bitter disappointment. His passing leave me, and I hope you, the average NAR member, even more committed to completing the work Joe started for us.

Members who wish to express their condolences to the Egan family should direct cards and letters to:

Mrs. Patricia Egan
750 Fourth Street South
Naples, FL 34102

Pay forward. Aim high.


Posted by terry at May 8, 2008 7:16 PM


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