In January, the USSC Group family and the public transportation industry, in general, lost long-time industry veteran Jesse Broussard.
Broussard was a sr. sales consultant for USSC since 1995. Though many in the industry would consider him family, Broussard was especially close to those at the USSC Group.
“I met Jesse 15 years ago when I was a green, aspiring young executive at Miami-Dade Transit, and he had this little piece of advice for me that I will never forget: ‘When you mature in this industry, don’t forget where you came from, help somebody, and make us proud when you eventually replace us,’” says Clinton B. Forbes, executive director for West Palm Beach, Fla.’s Palm Tran.
“We all have friends, but a treasured few,” says Emille Williams, VP, operations, at the Central Ohio Transit Authority. “When we lose a treasure like a Jesse, it is difficult to put into words the value of his grace, thoughtfulness, and unwavering support.”
“He was the one constant in this changing industry, someone I considered a member of my ‘kitchen cabinet;’ always with a smile, support, and advice when needed,” adds Robert Prince, president of Foot Prince LLC.
Broussard started his career in the transit industry in 1963, going to work as a custodian at the Rapid Transit Line in Houston. After the Civil Rights Act of 1967, Jesse applied to promote into the position of bus operator. He overcame adversity and cruel prejudice to become the first African-American bus operator in Houston.
He quickly earned the respect and love of his customers and co-workers. He was promoted into the ranks of front line management at Rapid Transit Line, which became HouTran, and eventually, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. He continued to promote into the ranks of executive management before retiring as director, transportation, in 1995.
During that time, Broussard never forgot where he came from or what he experienced, but always forgave the people who mistreated him; many of which ended up working under him later in his career.
“[He] told me about the struggles he had growing up in transit — the racism, the hatred, the threats, the horrible words, the ceilings he had to break through,” explains USSC Group CEO Christian Hammarskjold. “One would expect that these experiences would scar a person for life; this was not the case with Jesse. He always saw the good in people, was quick to forgive, and open to re-establishing relationships. He brought out the best in people.”
Throughout his career, he was honored with commendations for work ethic and professionalism. In recognition for his years of service, the Mayor of Houston even proclaimed August 31, 1995 “Jesse Broussard Day.”
Broussard enjoyed life, loved people, and always had a warm smile. While serving as sr. consultant to United States Seating Co., people within the industry would call on him for advice and support. He was always there to help both personally and professionally. To Broussard, life was an accumulation of experiences and dreams made real, and he will be sorely missed by many.
Years from now people should recognize all that Jesse did to “pave the road” for future generations. To that end, the USSC Group will sponsor a scholarship in honor of Jesse Broussard that will be awarded annually by COMTO. The scholarship will be awarded to a student who demonstrates a deep understanding of the history associated with the Civil Rights movement and people like Broussard who brought life to legislation.
“We receive many presents in our lives, but few as treasured as the presence that Jesse Broussard brought to a conversation, to a moment, or to the telling of a story,” Dr. Barbara Gannon of GannonConsult says. “He was quietly attentive, with a smile and a sense of humor. [He] lent a feeling of support that made you feel like he was on your side. We will greatly miss his physical presence, but will never lose the feeling of his support.”
Ray Melleady, managing director, North America, for USSC Group and Alex Roman, managing editor at METRO Magazine contributed to this story.