Obituary Notices

Industry Leader Mike Rushing, 1943–2023

Mike Rushing
Mike Rushing

Michael W. Rushing, 79, of Jackson, Mo., a river industry icon and founder of Rushing Marine Service LLC, a provider of consulting services and training of U.S. Coast Guard and OSHA regulations, died March 5 at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

He started out on the river when he was 12, riding the towboats of Missouri Barge Line, Inc. in Cape Girardeau, where his father, Woody, was general manager, and he continued to work on the boats during his summer vacations. In 1963, he stood his first watch as a pilot, marking the formal start of his river career.

In January 1967, Rushing was drafted into the Army and served two years, getting out in January 1969, at which time he began working in the office at Missouri Barge Line and serving as pilot or captain on various company vessels as needed. He became full-time port captain in 1973 and operations manager in 1976.

In 1979, he and his father started Rushing Marine Corporation, which owned and operated towboats. In 1991, he took over the job as executive vice president of MEMCO Barge Line, but then in 1995, he started Rushing Marine Service LLC, working with his son Todd until his death.

He was a founder and one of the early leaders of the Towing Vessel Inspection Bureau.

According to those who knew him, Rushing was “the ultimate giver. Everything he did, he did for someone else,” they said. Among his many activities, he was a member of New McKendree United Methodist Church, where he eventually went on to become the district lay leader for the Southeast District of the Missouri Conference.

Since 2000, he was a part of the local Soap Box Derby race, hosted by the Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau, and he was elected to the All-American Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame in 2022.

He helped establish the Rushing Family Trust in honor of his parents. This charitable trust, which has raised more than $500,000 to benefit charity, will hold its 25th annual “Captain Woody” Golf Tournament in October.

An avid Boy Scouter, Rushing earned the Silver Beaver Award in 2007, the highest award an adult can receive in scouting. He steered into Boy Scout leadership retired industry leader Mark Knoy, who said of Rushing, “he believed in the Boy Scout Law and giving back to the community. Mike gave back in so many ways with his church and community, more than most could grasp. He never missed a challenge.”

Rushing, also a business mentor of Knoy’s, was a multi-generational towboater, Knoy said, who “knew towboating when it was tough, not that it still isn’t. He cared about his crews and improving wheelmen’s capabilities.

“If you wanted something done right, Mike was your guy. He knew what risks to look for and how to prevent accidents.”