Harold J. Gorman, the former longtime executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, died Thursday of lymphoma at Touro Infirmary. He was 75.
Gorman served in various jobs under Mayors Dutch Morial, Sidney Barthelemy and Marc Morial, overseeing two city departments before taking the helm at the S&WB, where he remained for more than 15 years before retiring.
In an emailed statement, Marc Morial called Gorman “a dedicated public servant and highly capable public administrator.”
Gorman received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University in 1963 and a master’s in business from the University of Chicago in 1967.
He was an Air Force captain and in the mid-1960s was a propulsion engineer on Titan missiles at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. He later worked at Air Force Systems Command headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and at the Pentagon in the office of the secretary of defense.
Gorman was on the faculty of the University of New Orleans’ Division of Business and Economic Research in the early 1970s. Starting in 1972, he was the manager of the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
Gorman’s career with the city began in 1978, when Dutch Morial hired him as director of the Department of Safety and Permits at a time when the downtown New Orleans skyline was changing dramatically with construction of new high-rise offices and hotels.
In 1982, Gorman became director of the Department of Public Works. There, he oversaw the construction of new streets to service the site of the 1984 World’s Fair and also coordinated with the state Department of Transportation and Development as it built the second span of what is now the Crescent City Connection.
He also was an adjunct professor at UNO’s School of Urban Studies at that time.
In 1986, Gorman became executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board, remaining there until he retired in 2003. He directed $400 million in drainage improvements funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and managed a $600 million sewer system rehabilitation program.
“He was a driver and partner in our efforts to dramatically upgrade the city’s drainage and sewer/wastewater systems,” said Marc Morial, who is now the president and CEO of the National Urban League.
“His calm demeanor belied an intensity and great grasp of details,” Morial added.
Morial recalled that he once asked Gorman how many gallons of water residents used.
“Without missing a beat, he rattled off gallons, number of miles of pipes, number of pumping stations as well as the system’s daily electricity usage,” Morial said. “I was educated and prepared by many conversations with Harold over the years.”
After leaving the S&WB, Gorman served as president of the Gorman Group Inc., a consulting firm, and as a consulting banker with Morgan Keegan and Co. He advised private companies and governments around the world on water issues.
Gorman was a member of numerous professional and civic organizations, including the American Water Works Association, LSU Hurricane Center Advisory Committee, Louisiana Engineering Society, American Public Works Association, Water for People, Louisiana Historical Society, Military Order of Foreign Wars and Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
He was a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.
Survivors include his wife, Doris Ann Gorman; two daughters, Catherine Ann Gorman Kuuskraa and Madeline Jeanne Gorman Holbrook; and four grandchildren.
Funeral services will be Wednesday. Arrangements are pending.