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OCTA mourns loss of Director Gregory T. Winterbottom

Gregory T. Winterbottom, who devoted his professional career to championing equal access to transportation services for all, and the Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) longest-serving board member, died Friday, June 26, at his home in Villa Park.

Director Winterbottom, who was 73, is being mourned by friends and colleagues throughout the transportation industry for his accomplished career serving the residents of Orange County and those throughout Southern California.

“Greg was a tremendous public servant who brought extensive experience in transportation and government to the OCTA board,” said OCTA Chairman Steve Jones, also the Mayor of Garden Grove. “His contributions and legacy of progress for people, especially those with transportation challenges, has left a lasting impact on Orange County.”

Winterbottom, himself a wheelchair user for more than 50 years, provided a valuable perspective and important viewpoint to issues regarding people with disabilities. He was a champion for projects and programs designed to ensure everyone had equal access to both transportation and public spaces, long before the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. His leadership and commitment to full access for all government services ensured that the county was ready for ADA in 1990.

“Greg’s commitment and dedication to serving the public was unmatched and he showed unwavering support for our employees, taking great pride in their professionalism,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “I worked with Greg for many years at OCTA and there was rarely a board or committee meeting, or public event that he missed. He was truly passionate about his mission and he’ll be sorely missed, not only for his contributions, but as a friend.”

Winterbottom pioneered the Dial-A-Ride program to provide door-to-door transportation for wheelchair users and the elderly, and managed the Consolidated Transportation Service Agency to provide empathetic, cost-effective transportation services for individuals with disabilities. The programs paved the way for OCTA’s ACCESS paratransit service, which records nearly 1.4 million boardings by eligible Orange County residents each year.

“Orange County has lost a great warrior for the rights of persons with disabilities and I’ve lost a great friend,” said Stan Oftelie, OCTA’s first chief executive officer. “His contributions to transportation and helping people with disabilities cannot be overstated. The next time you see a bus with a lift, a curb cut for someone pushing a stroller or a wheelchair, or a ramp providing an alternative to stairs in a public building, think of Greg. He worked on those issues for half a century.”

Throughout his tenure on the OCTA board, Winterbottom staunchly advocated for the public and prided himself on attending OCTA’s Citizens Advisory Committee meetings to ensure the public had direct access to an OCTA board member. In addition, there was almost never an OCTA gathering – whether a public meeting, project milestone, or an internal employee recognition event – without Winterbottom in attendance.

Winterbottom served as chairman of the OCTA board in 2004 and 2013. Most recently he served as vice chairman of OCTA’s Transit Committee, on the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, and as a board member on the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which operates Metrolink.

“Amid tears, we also smile as we remember Director Winterbottom for his selfless commitment to public service – beginning with his service to our nation, to his decades of service to the transportation industry and the diverse people who rely on it,” said Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “Metrolink just completed our installation of new ticket machines designed to provide easy access to disabled persons; we dedicate this achievement to him. May he rest in peace.”

Winterbottom was born in Philadelphia and his family moved to California when he was 1 year old. He attended North Torrance High School and played football there all four years. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17 and was a proud veteran.

In 1977, Winterbottom served as the founding Chairman of the non-profit Dayle McIntosh Center. The center provides services to people with disabilities and facilitates equal access and inclusion within the community. It is one of 500 non-residential cross-disability independent centers in the country. The center helped design and build a 40-unit independent living center in Anaheim, the first of its kind in Orange County. A year later, DMC helped build another 40-unit independent living center.

Because of his involvement with the center and belief in its mission, the family asks anyone wishing to honor his memory may do so by making a donation to the Dayle McIntosh Center at 501 N. Brookhurst St., Suite 102, Anaheim, CA 92801, (714) 621-3300, www.daylemc.org.

Winterbottom is survived by his son Steven and his daughter-in-law, Michelle; sister, JoAnne Roby; niece, Jamy Hathcoat; and predeceased by nephew, Capt. Randy Roby, U.S.A.F.

This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.