Mark Rosenker, a public affairs specialist who served in Republican presidential administrations and became an authority on planes, trains and automobiles, directing the National Transportation Safety Board for four years under President George W. Bush, died Sept. 26, reports The Washington Post.

Rosenker was 74 and, said his wife, Heather Beldon Rosenker, he had brain cancer.

Once dubbed the “the Master of Disaster,” he led the investigations following all civil aviation accidents in the nation when he chaired NTSB from 2005 to 2009.

He later joined CBS News as a radio and television analyst, founded a transportation-safety consulting group and was appointed one of the first members of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, an independent oversight group for the regional transit agency.

According to The Post, “Mr. Rosenker also became involved in presidential politics, joining Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign. The experience left him feeling “disgusted and disappointed” in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he later told an interviewer with his alma mater, the University of Maryland, but he was persuaded to serve as deputy press secretary for President Gerald R. Ford’s campaign in 1976.

“Mr. Rosenker later worked as an advance man for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush while spending 23 years running public affairs for the Electronic Industries Association, a now-defunct manufacturers’ trade group. (One network news staffer said he was the best press advance man I’ve ever worked with and was adored by the press corps.”)

“He opened the Washington office of the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the country’s organ transplant system, before joining the George W. Bush administration in 2001.

“As deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office, Mr. Rosenker coordinated military support for the executive office, presiding over Camp David, Air Force One, secure communications and the handling of the “football,” the emergency satchel that presidents can use to launch a nuclear attack.

“He was with Bush on Sept. 11, 2001, when he helped orchestrate Air Force One’s impromptu journey from Sarasota, Fla. — where the president was meeting with elementary-school students when a second plane struck the World Trade Center — to military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska, before returning to Washington with an escort of fighter jets.”
Rosenker was a retired Air Force Reserve Major General with a 37-year active duty and reserve career.

In 2018, a political communications center at the University of Maryland – The Mark and Heather Rosenker Center for Political Communication and Civic Leadership – was named in their honor. The Center, part of the Department of Communication, unites research, education, and public engagement to foster democratic communication by a diverse people.

More here.

PHOTO: CBS News

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