No Headstone Photograph Available
||Alan Russell Erwin
||Section:Statesman's Meadow, Section 1 (E)
|Reason for Eligibility:
||Public Utility Commission; Director, State and Federal Relations
||September 4, 1944
||November 12, 2019
||November 15, 2019
ERWIN, ALAN RUSSELL (1944 ~ 2019). The following is an obituary for Alan Russell Erwin, former Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission. The obituary was provided by Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home of Austin.
Alan Russell Erwin died in Austin on November 12, 2019 surrounded by his family. He was 75.
Alan was born on September 4, 1944, in Greenville, Texas. Alan was many things in life: loving husband, father, grandfather, journalist, author, military veteran, businessman, public relations guru, devout Christian, statesman, public servant, political junkie and longhorn fan.
After graduation from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, Alan married UT student Gay Taylor in December of 1967. Three weeks later, Alan entered military service in the United States Navy and graduated from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. After being commissioned as an Ensign, he embarked on a two-year assignment as a communications officer aboard the USS Lexington. His Navy career from 1967 to 1971 took him from Newport to Charleston, South Carolina, to Pensacola and Boston – and eventually to Vietnam.
As a communications officer and as Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG), Alan served as public affairs officer for the ship and published the ship’s daily newspaper. In 1969, Alan received orders to Vietnam, where he served as an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy’s Swift Boat division. Alan described his service in the Navy as “one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
His continued commitment to the unofficial motto of the Navy that was instilled in him during his military service - Non sibi sed patrie (“Not for Self but Country”) led him to help honor his fellow Vietnam veterans to ensure they received the respect and appreciation most did not receive when they returned from the war. Alan helped raise $1.5 million in donations toward a $5 million monument now standing on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol in Austin that honors those - living and dead - who served in Vietnam. The monument was dedicated in 2015.
Alan’s communications and writing skills, whether in the Navy or in private business or politics, were cultivated over many years, beginning as a weekly reporter/columnist for The Baytown Sun while he was in high school. He held jobs from reporter to editor to publisher at a variety of Texas newspapers. Alan was named capitol correspondent for the Hartman newspaper group, during major political events such as the Sharpstown Scandal in 1971 and 1972.
Alan’s journalism skills and resume also earned him a “stringer” job for several major newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. The accomplished journalist later achieved every journalist’s secret goal - to write the great American novel when he published The Power Exchange in 1984.
After his military service ended, Alan’s career in politics began when he signed on as chief of staff for Congressman Bob Casey from Houston. In 1972, Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed Alan to the Office of State-Federal Relations in D.C. He also served as an advisor and speech writer to Gov. Briscoe.
On Sept. 2, 1975, at age 30, Alan joined Garrett Morris and George Cowden as Gov. Briscoe’s first appointed PUC commissioners. Alan’s term expired in 1979, when he left to enter the private sector. He remains the youngest person to serve as a commissioner and chair of the PUC.
Hill and Knowlton Public Relations, headquartered in New York City, named Alan a senior vice president and manager of the company’s Houston office after he left state government.
Gov. Mark White, reappointed him to the PUC in 1983, asking him publicly to implement changes to the rules of the Commission to make its operations more public. Alan also chaired the PUC during the monumental federally-mandated breakup of AT&T.
When his term ended in 1985, Alan returned briefly to Hill and Knowlton before establishing his own consulting firm, Erwin & Associates, where he served as president of the public relations and public affairs firm headquartered in Austin.
In 2010, Alan and Gay defied compatibility odds of 50 million-to-one regarding organ donation between spouses. With Alan desperately in need of a kidney transplant, wife Gay became his donor. The successful operation and ultimate act of love ended the prospect for long-term dialysis for Alan. The two have been active, long-time members of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin.
Alan was preceded in death by his parents Frances Elizabeth Erwin and Eugene Kinsey Erwin.
Alan is survived by his wife of 51 years Gay Erwin. He is also survived by brother Robert and spouse Betty Lou Erwin, sister Beth and spouse Hugh Howell and brother Gary and spouse Elizabeth Erwin. He is also survived by his son Andy and spouse Emily Erwin, both of Austin; son Josh and spouse Amanda Erwin of Wimberley; and son Will of Austin. Alan is also survived by granddaughters Millah, Mecca, Ava, Madie and Cameron; grandsons Sawyer and Jack; and granddogs Hays, Scout, and Ruby.
Visitation will be at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home of Austin at 3125 North Lamar on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Funeral services will take place at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd at 1 p.m. on Friday, November 15, 2019 with interment at the Texas State Cemetery immediately following. A reception will follow graveside services in the Cemetery Gallery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd at P.O. Box 5176, Austin, TX 78763.