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Roy Alan Brogan

December 22, 2018

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BROGAN, R. Alan, 78, of Roanoke, VA and formerly Amelia Island, FL, passed away peacefully on December 22nd, 2018 after a brief illness.  Born in April, 1940 in Washington, D.C., he was the oldest child of Roy Albert Brogan and Rose Jones Brogan.  He was predeceased by the love of his life and high school sweetheart, his wife Delores Reed Brogan.

He is survived by his son, Michael A. Brogan and his wife, Betsy and grandchildren Townsend, Elizabeth and Michael, Jr., all of whom he loved to regale with stories from his adventurous childhood; he is also survived by his siblings Thomas R. Brogan (Wanda), Linda B. Wright (David) and Diane V. Brogan (David Burrows)

He attended William Fleming High School and Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets; he graduated from VPI with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and later earned his Masters in Industrial Engineering from VPI. He earned an MBA from Lynchburg College and was a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

Upon his graduation, he began his work career with brief stints at NASA as an Aerospace Engineer at Goddard Flight Center and at E.I. DuPont as an Area Manager. In 1964, he joined Norfolk & Western Railroad as an Area Engineer and this position marked the beginning of a most successful thirty-six year career with the railroad and its successor companies.

While trained as a highly skilled engineer, he claimed that he quickly tired of the monotonous drafting work for new bridge crossings and after a short time began to regularly, and with purpose, spill drafting ink on his drawings so that his supervisor might question his suitability for his position. The strategy worked well as he moved to the management side of the business within two years.

He held numerous management and senior management positions during his lengthy career and retired in 2000 as President—Norfolk-Southern Intermodal; prior to that, he served as the corporation’s Executive Vice President. During his tenure he also notably served as President & CEO of the railroad’s North American Van Lines subsidiary; in this capacity he oversaw the firm’s successful turnaround to profitability and subsequent sale to private equity.  Those with whom he had the pleasure of working recalled his keen intellect, his absolute integrity, his quick wit and the frequent glint of mischief in his blue eyes.  While he brought an engineering mindset to business, he always sought to make work both fun and rewarding while seeking constant improvements.  Nothing pleased him more than to see those around him succeed.

He served in numerous civic capacities during his lifetime, among them the Salvation Army, YMCA and Big Brothers. He served on the Advisory Board for the Virginia Tech School of Business and was a member of the University’s Committee of 100 and the Caldwell Society; he was a board member of the Trailer Train Company and served on numerous committees for the American Transportation Society.

He loved all of the family’s many dogs and his pup, Lucy, was a constant companion by his side during his final months.

The family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to Teresa Ellis and the staff of Ellis Senior Care for their dedication, professionalism and loving assistance—especially Catherine, Danielle and Myra.

The family will conduct a private memorial service. Memorials may be made to either Angels of Assisi, 415 Campbell Avenue, Roanoke, VA  24016 or to Nassau Humane Society, 639 Airport Road, Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit

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