Mourners and well-wishers formed a steady stream of visitors to the March 8 wake of Mike Rushing in Jackson, Mo. They were saying farewell to an inland waterways leader with a huge impact on the lives of many, many people, both within and outside the industry.
Rushing knew the waterways business inside and out, having performed just about every job and function possible within the industry: starting out as a deckhand at age 12, pilot, captain, port captain, operations manager, vice president and founder of his own barge line.
In one sense, Rushing exemplified a family-oriented river tradition, since he worked closely with his father and later his son in the industry. But he was always forward-looking, co-founding one of the first third-party organizations that help inland companies comply with Subchapter M regulations.
Within the industry, many whose career he mentored on Rushing’s passing spoke up on his legacy.
With his passing, we are reminded of the many veterans of the trade that our industry has lost in the past few years.
Anyone who has spent time in the maritime industry has mentors on whom they have relied for advice and help along the way. These stalwarts of the industry are also the keepers of its valuable history.
Maybe a fitting tribute to Rushing would be to reflect upon the help we have all been given over the years. For those lucky enough to still have their mentors in their lives, take a moment to call them or drop a card in the mail, thanking them for your help. You never know when you might not have that opportunity again. Rushing’s life and example are also a reminder of the importance of taking time to pass knowledge on to the next generation, becoming mentors and advocates for the river system in our turn.