Former Arlington airport director honored for service

ARLINGTON — It’s not often that a man gets a job with the city where he grew up, works 32 years for that city and then retires with a public hall named in his honor.

Former Arlington Municipal Airport director Rob Putnam can claim that story.

Putnam was honored at the Arlington City Council meeting Monday for his work managing the airport, considered one of the state’s best general aviation airports.

The large public meeting room at the airport administration building, which also houses a state Department of Transportation aviation office, is now called Putnam Hall.

“Rob Putnam left a wonderful legacy to the city of Arlington, starting with his work in our parks and ending with his vision for the best general aviation airport in the state,” Mayor Barbara Tolbert said. “I worked with Rob as a tenant of the airport, as an airport commissioner and as mayor. His work ethic and integrity were constant. He will be missed.”

Retired now for just a few weeks, Putnam, 62, is looking forward to working around his house, spending more time with grandchildren and taking more bicycle rides.

For years, Putnam rode his bike to work from his home in Arlington. He did it to stay in shape and to keep stress in check, something he would recommend to anybody, he said. Putnam didn’t get serious about cycling until about a 20 years ago. He’s ridden across the country and been on many other long journeys on his bike. Next spring he and his wife plan to join friends to bicycle across Europe.

During his tenure, Putnam established an aggressive pavement preservation program at the airport, which had its start as Naval Air Station Arlington during World War II. He successfully negotiated long-term leases on airport land and was part of a big push to make the airport a center of economic development.

The airport is now part of the city’s Community &Economic Development Department and its administration offices also house the city’s planning and building permit staff. Longtime airport employee Dale Carman has been promoted to airport manager.

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