Dwight H. Bray began his career with the Highway Department (now the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet) in 1920, and served in various capacities until he retired in March 1966. In 1948, he was appointed Chief Engineer (now State Highway Engineer) serving for 18 years, under five governors and ten highway commissioners. His record for the longest time in that position has yet to be broken.
Perseverance, personality, and practical know-how are what kept Mr. Bray in the position of Chief Highway Engineer for so many years according to an article published in a Frankfort newspaper shortly before he retired. In a letter to Mr. Bray upon his retirement, Fred B. Farrell, then Regional Engineer for the Bureau of Public Roads in the U.S. Department of Commerce, stated: “Your devotion to public service coupled with your capability as an engineer and as an administrator have been instrumental in the development and carrying out of Kentucky=s great highway program…But most of all, your integrity, your gentlemanly approach, and your friendly dealings are what could be counted upon in reaching solutions and agreements even where strong and widely differing viewpoints gave little promise of accomplishment. Kentucky and the nation have benefited by your contributions.”
Born in Indiana on January 3, 1901, Mr. Bray came to Kentucky by way of Texas and Missouri. He began a career in geology after graduation from the University of Missouri in 1924, with a degree in geology and economics. However, he decided that a highway engineering career would be more interesting and rewarding, so returned to college and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1939 with a BS in Civil Engineering and in 1940 with the degree of Civil Engineer.
Between college terms in 1920, Mr. Bray began working at the Highway Department as a draftsman and then as an instrumentman. From his first full-time job at the Department as resident engineer, he served as assistant district engineer, district engineer, assistant director and director of maintenance, and director of design before being appointed Chief Engineer.
Mr. Bray was especially proud of two projects he worked on during his career: his work on a committee setting up the Kentucky Retirement Program and his work helping to establish a student scholarship program, which has helped many deserving students acquire an education in engineering.
Over the years, Mr. Bray’s accomplishments extended far beyond Kentucky borders. In 1955, he was loaned to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) as an engineering consultant in South America where he helped to set up a road maintenance system for Peru. And, while working for Brighton Engineering, he set up a road maintenance system for Puerto Rico. After retiring from the Highway Department, he participated in a study for the U.S. DOT and visited highway officials in England, Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg to check out their road systems, paying particular attention to safety features. He brought back many ideas, such as breakaway utility poles, guardrails, and safety barriers that are now used in Kentucky and other states.
During his career, Mr. Bray served as president and/or chairman of the following organizations: Kentucky Section ASCE, KSPE, Kentucky State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers, Mississippi Valley Conference of State Highway Officials, Southeastern Association of State Highway Officials, Kentucky State and County Retirement Systems Employees, AASHO, and Brighton Engineering.
Mr. Bray received many awards and recognitions during his 44-year career, including the following: Distinguished Service to the
Industry from the Kentucky Association of Highway Contractors; Distinguished Service Certificate from the National Council of Engineering Examiners; and Life Membership in the ASCE.
Mr. Bray was a registered professional engineer in the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.
He was so well liked by his engineering colleagues that upon his retirement from the Highway Department, he was presented with a new Buick Electra. He passed away on February 27, 1979. His wife, Virginia Carrithers Bray, and a daughter, Martha Lee Bray, currently live in Frankfort. His son, Dwight C. Bray, also a Civil Engineer, lives in Hebron, Kentucky.