In the long term, it would be interesting to speculate on which of two Fauntroy bothers may be judged as having had the greater impact on the Washington community in which both were born--the political brother, Walter, who is the D.C. Delegate in Congress, or the transit professional brother, William, who retired yesterday as a top Metro planner, although he'll serve as a sometime consultant.
For too long, Bill Fauntroy, 58, has been called by some "the other Fauntroy," because brother Walter gained greater local attention as a charismatic Baptist minister, a member of the old appointed D.C. City Council and finally as the District's delegate in Congress.
Meantime, Bill began working in 1961 for the old National Capital Transportation Agency, the federal government's forerunner of Metro, as a civil engineer. He later became a senior planner, one who mapped the shape of the subway system as we know it now and as we contemplate it for the future. There's probably nothing about the subway within the District that doesn't somehow involve Bill's imprint.
The brothers' paths crossed when Bill Fauntroy pushed within the agency for approval of a midcity line -- the still largely unbuilt, and unopened, Green Line -- and Walter pressed for it politically. Soon afterward, Walter, as vice chairman of the D.C. City Council, became the Metro board chairman.
"I remember Frederick Babson, a board member from Fairfax County , asking whether this was nepotism," Bill Fauntroy recalled recently. "I said it might be nepotism if someone came in and hired a family member to work for him, but it isn't nepotism when a family member comes in as your boss."
Another Fauntroy brother, Kenneth, worked briefly with the agency as a computer operator in 1961.
The Fauntroys' late father, William T. Fauntroy Sr., spent his working career from 1918 until 1962 with the Patent Office, and once played center field for the semipro Washington Black Sox baseball team. He died in 1982. Their mother, the former Ethel Vine, died in 1976.