The Life of Edward Viktor Kussy
Edward Kussy loved roads. He could discuss roads for hours. He may have known every major highway in America. He devoted much of his life to the study of highways and the intricacies involved in building, connecting, and maintaining them over his long career as deputy chief counsel and top career lawyer at the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, D.C. and later as a partner at Nossaman, LLP. Ed was among the nation’s leading experts on federal surface transportation policy.
At the beginning of his own road, his path in life was far more precarious. He was born in post-war Dresden, East Germany in 1947. His father, an Auschwitz survivor and his mother a Dutch resistance member lived in a dangerous situation as Cold War era tensions threatened his family’s security. After the family escaped to West Berlin, Ed, his parents and his younger sister Henriette immigrated to Detroit, Michigan in 1954. Their pictures were featured on the front pages of national newspapers.
Growing up in Michigan, Ed quickly learned to speak English and excelled at math and science. He graduated from Bloomfield Hills High School in 1965. He developed a lifelong love for classical music and discovered another passion — the stars. In college he studied astronomy at the University of Michigan. A few years later he entered the University of Michigan Law School, where he met his future wife Erika. The two attorneys settled in Alexandria, Virginia in 1973. He received an L.L.M. in Environmental Law from George Washington University Law School in 1981, where he later taught environmental law.
The integrity, logic, and ethics of the law appealed to Ed, a profession that became core to his identity. Ed held leadership roles at the Federal Highway Administration over the course of six presidential administrations, in which he worked on hundreds of cases across federal transportation programs. In addition to the federal aid highway program, he worked on issues related to the use of airspace and federal utilities policies.
His service was marked by accolades and awards for his contributions including the Secretary's Award for Outstanding Public Service--USDOT, General Counsel's Award for Lifetime Legal Achievement--USDOT, Distinguished Career Service Award--USDOT, the Lester Boykin Award--USDOT, and the Heartland Award, in honor of those who died in the Oklahoma City bombing. Several of his cases reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
After retiring from public service, Ed’s commitment to environmental law did not waiver. He joined Nossaman, LLP as a member of the Infrastructure and Environment and Land Use Practice Groups. For decades, Ed also active served on the leadership of the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Academies.
Journeys were very much a part of Ed’s personal life. He traveled extensively with his wife Erika and later with friends, his sister, and his great-nephew throughout South America, Europe, Asia, as well as across North America. His sister and he share a fond memory of spending one month volunteering at an organization in Tanzania to improve local healthcare and education.
Ed had a wonderful rye sense of humor. He was a fervent learner who loved to visit museum exhibitions and could often be found quietly reading in a cozy chair. In his spare time, Ed enjoyed making the drive from Alexandria to Heathsville, Virginia to look out onto the Chesapeake Bay. Last spring, he took his final trip abroad with a friend. As he reflected back on his journey in his last days, he said, “I had a happy life.
He is survived by his sister Henriette Warren, niece Tamara Warren and her husband Lee Quinones, nephew Joshua Warren and wife Amanda, niece Luana Bechstein, and four great-niece and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Health Tanzania Foundation and the American Stroke Association. Donations may also be made to the Edward Kussy Charitable Fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.
“Everything good is on the highway.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson