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Obituary: Peter G. Koltnow '51

Peter G. Koltnow, 82, a traffic engineer who became president of a transportation and highway safety advocacy group and who also helped start a lobbying and support group for parents of children with cancer, died Nov. 28, 2011, at the Friends House nursing home in Sandy Spring. He had Parkinson’s disease.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Nan Chase.

Mr. Koltnow was a traffic engineer for the Automobile Club of Southern California before settling in the Washington area in 1967. He then became a traffic engineer for the Highway Users Federation, an advocacy group where he served as president from 1974 to 1985. The group is now called the American Highway Users Alliance.

Over the years, he also held offices with the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and received the board’s award for distinguished service. In retirement, he became a consultant to the American Trucking Associations, a trade organization.

Peter Gregory Koltnow was born in New York. He was a 1951 graduate of Antioch College in Ohio and received a master’s degree in engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1956. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War.

He spent more than two decades as a docent at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries. He also was a transportation researcher at the National Museum of American History. As a young man, he was a prodigious hitchhiker, and the postcards he wrote to his future wife from the road are displayed in the Route 66 section of “America on the Move,” an exhibit on transportation at the museum.

In 2004, he moved from Bethesda to the Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Dorothy Witter Koltnow of Silver Spring; two daughters, Nan Chase of Asheville, N.C., and Nina Koltnow of Wheaton; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

After the death of his daughter Gregg-Anne Koltnow from leukemia in 1970 at age 4, Mr. Koltnow helped start Candlelighters, a lobbying and support group for parents of children with cancer.

Mr. Koltnow said the organization was started to achieve an immediate increase in funding and consistent long-term funding for cancer research. As the group’s first president, he attended the signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971, where President Richard M. Nixon declared “war on cancer.”