Obituary Notice: Randy Eckstein
Raymond “Randy” Eckstein Jr., of New Orleans, retired president and CEO of the Gulf-Inland Division of Marquette Transportation Company LLC, died October 17 of cancer in Houston, Texas. He was 65 years old, having left the industry soon after merging his towing company, Eckstein Marine Service Inc., with that of his brother’s, John, due to his health in 2006.
The eldest son of Marquette founder Ray Eckstein, he started working on the river with Wisconsin Barge Line, first as a dispatcher in Cassville, Wis., then as an operations manager in St. Louis and eventually as the manager of the Badger Fleet in New Orleans.
In 1978, he went out on his own, forming Eckstein Marine Service with the purchase of his first towboat, the mv. Roslyn Eckstein, named after his wife. Over the next couple years, he added three more towboats and the Pelican Fleet, the largest independent fleet in New Orleans, which the recession of the 1980s forced him to eventually sell. However, by then diversifying his services into the liquid cargo market, he was able to build up his fleet of towboats as the demand for chemical towing grew.
During the 1990s, Eckstein embarked on a fleet remodeling program, refurbishing his boats at a rate of one per month, and launched a newbuild and acquisition program that grew the number of boats to 36, before he merged with Marquette Transportation as a division operating mostly in the Gulf area.
Involved with industry affairs, he was a member of the Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association, The American Waterways Operators and the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, among others.
Once retired, he spent the time building his faith and contributing to the mission of finding a cure for cancer.
Those who knew him said he was known for his innovative thinking, contagious passion, hard work ethic and for always putting his employees first.