County coworkers and friends remember former Eagle County Assistant Administrator George Roussos
Those who knew George Roussos remember him not just as an expert in building roads, bridges and other projects. Roussos was also gifted at building friendships and relationships, friends and coworkers workers said.
Roussos, 56, a former Eagle County assistant administrator, died Thursday after a year-long battle with cancer.
“The four years I spent under his mentorship made more of an impact on my life than any person I have ever known,” said Eagle County Engineer Helen Migchelbrinck, who worked with Roussos in the engineering department before he was promoted to assistant county administrator. “He was human to a fault. He had this way of disarming you with his good humor, yet leaving you with a deep impression of how thoroughly he had analyzed a problem. His vitality and penchant for learning were punctuated by his overwhelming sense of fairness that he used with all people.”
When he left Eagle County in December 2002 to become the deputy county administrator at Hernando County in Florida, Roussos said, “I’m sad, this was family here.”
Roussos left after working eight years for Eagle County.
“There wasn’t a project that he didn’t have some impact on,” said Eagle County Administrator Jack Ingstad. “He was involved in all the projects in the county.”
Roussos came to Eagle County in 1995 as part of the county engineering department. In 1999, he was appointed assistant county administrator, mostly in charge of public works, working with the county’s engineering department overseeing the county roads and bridges.
“He brought with him a number of skills which I needed,” Ingstad said. “He was very systematic. He was able to move projects forward.”
Roussos left his footprint on major projects in the county. From the engineering of the Miller Ranch Road Bridge, to Miller Ranch Road to the floodplain mapping. Under his tenure with the county, the Roaring Fork Railroad Authority, which Roussos chaired, purchased the railroad corridor from Glenwood Springs to Aspen for future transportation and recreation uses.
“It was his writing skills and keen attention to detail that always placed Eagle County at the head of the pack,” Migchelbrinck said.
If knowledge truly is power, Roussos was one of the strongest men on Earth.
“George knew an enormous amount about how to work within the system and he was always willing to share that knowledge. He never felt a need to keep the power to himself,” Caroline Bradford of the Eagle River Watershed Council.
The Watershed Council’s work on Black Gore Creek is its most visible success, so far. Roussos taught Watershed Council members how the Colorado Department of Transportation project development system works, and where the landmines are hidden.
“Our success on Vail Pass wouldn’t have been possible without George’s patient tutoring,” said Bradford. “He was such an important behind-the-scenes kind of guy.”
Roussos also pursued the state funding and the ultimate construction of the Eagle-Vail half diamond interchange. He worked to get the Eagle County Airport I-70 interchange project through the reams of paperwork. That project should become a reality in the next few years.-
“George was the person who doggedly pursued the bridge grant that gave Eagle County the entire Colorado share of funding for the recently constructed Miller Ranch Bridge,” Migchelbrinck said.
During Roussos’ tenure as County Engineer, Eagle County received numerous national awards for excellence in the area of public works.
“In the two years I worked with (Roussos), he was a fantastic teacher,” said County Commissioner Arn Menconi. “He was well loved by everyone in the organization. He never needed to take credit for any of the projects, but did all the hard work behind them. It’s a tragic loss.”
Migchelbrinck calls Roussos “a pioneer and a true visionary in the field of public works.”-
“He always saw the big picture and was instrumental in so many projects that have benefited Eagle County,” she said.
Hernando County also benefited of Roussos expertise. Roussos largest accomplishment in Hernando County was heading the transition team after the county bought a large utility company, said Hernando County Administrator Richard Radacky.
“It was a big deal,” Radacky said. “And we already have taken over the company that serves more than 35,000 customers and we haven’t got one complaint. (Roussos) analysis was so thorough that he just covered all the bases. That’s the kind of guy he was.
“He was my right hand man,” Radacky said. “He could quickly grasp difficult issues and know how to resolve them in a highly effective manner. He also had a very detailed financial mind.
Ree Farrell, an office manager with Eagle County remembers Roussos as always being ready to help out which projects and meetings.
“He was a fun loving family man,” Farrell said.
Roussos’ son, James, is a freshman at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, and is studying architecture. His daughter, Eleni, is a senior in high school and will be attending Central Florida University in Orlando next fall. His wife Betty lives at the family home in Brooksville.
In the year he worked with Roussos, Radacky said he learned to respect him not only professionally, but also as a friend.
“The last couple of months he hadn’t felt well at all,” he said. “It took a lot of courage and fortitude from him to continue to work every day.”
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.