Dick Bibby

20120601_2742Dick Bibby died yesterday (Sunday, December 20, 2015) at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth. Having suffered an aortic aneurysm, he recovered well enough to call for help and, by afternoon, was in the hospital, conscious and fairly alert (with the Vikings game on TV). But the prognosis was poor, and Dick eventually slipped away early evening. He was 93. Funeral services are being planned for after Christmas. Please keep Dick’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers, particularly during this holiday season.

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It was not hard for USS Freedom executive officer Commander Kris Doyle (second from left), to impress four Duluth old timers with her brand new ship on Wednesday. While winding up the tour on the deck of the ship (above), Wes Harkins, at left, retired, Fraser Shipyard, showed Doyle a picture of the USS Paducah, a ship Wes left Duluth on in 1940. To Doyle’s left, Dick Bibby, retired, M.A. Hanna Co. and World War 2 merchant marine, Commander “Gil” Porter, retired US Coast Guard and former Great Lakes pilot and at right, Davis Helberg, former Duluth Seaway Port Authority director all agreed it was a new Navy. They asked all the old questions, but the answers from Doyle were all new. As an example, she explained how the ship can do 50 mph without a rudder or propeller. Think Jet Ski at a much higher level. Photo taken on October 29,2008
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Above, from the left: Robert Fuhrman, Executive Director Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center, Marvin Hall, Merchant Marine WWII, Floyd Miras, Deputy Director, Great Lakes Gateway, US Maritime Administration, Richard Bibby, Ken Johanson, Merchant Marine and former chief engineer, Paul R. Tregurtha, Richard Stewart, Director, Great Lakes Maritime Research
Institute.I took the picture above at the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center in Superior on September 24th, 2008. The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute was hosting an exhibit honoring World War II Merchant Marine Veterans. In the ceremony, Dick was actually the middle man in a quick transaction. He was given a set of Merchant Marine medals from the Second World War and his job was to turn and present the medals to Robert Fuhrman, Executive Director at the Bong.As in everything Dick does, this was done with his usual flare. The pictures, as you will note, will forever look as if Dick was giving the medals to the museum rather than just passing them over.Boats such as the Lee A. Tregurtha were vessels in the Merchant Marine as Dick Bibby was a mariner in the Merchant Marine. When the war was over, they were back to the normal work of moving cargos of all kinds from one port to another, in these two cases, eventually on the Great Lakes. And if we were to go to war again, boats and sailors on the Great Lakes would most likely be recruited into the Merchant Marine again.The Merchant Marine is always the same group of sailors and vessels with the same task, moving commercial goods from one port to another. The difference is in leadership. In peace time, it operates as we see it every day at the Duluth ship canal. During a war, the Merchant Marine becomes an auxiliary to the Navy and is available to transport cargo, equipment and soldiers in behalf of the war effort. I read that it took 7 to 15 tons of supplies to support one soldier for one year during a war. Providing that service is the job of the Merchant Marine.
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Late in 1999, Lower Lakes Towing purchased the John J. Boland, a boat that had been sitting in Fraser Shipyard for some years. In October, 2009, Captain John Wellington was hired to bring the tug Roger Stahl to Duluth to tow the newly purchased boat, to be called the Saginaw, to Sarnia. Wellington arrived on October 24, 1999. Wellington has a long history with Duluth so it was no surprise that Wes Harkins (left) and Dick Bibby (right) were down to greet Wellington (center) in the Roger Stahl pilot house. After arriving at Fraser Shipyard, Saginaw Captain Scott Bravener, also the President of Lower Lakes Towing, the company buying the boat, was down to talk with Wellington about the upcoming tow. Below, Bibby (an expert in all things related to tugs) consults with Bravener before the tow.
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Untitled-1The Port of Duluth quarterly magazine, North Star Port, has several articles that feature Mr. Bibby. Read about a visit to the Bibby basement. It was a trip back in history, his and ours (on page 23).
winter200809portmagA nice article by Davis Helberg from the Port of Duluth magazine of winter 2008-09 issue (Page 14)

Dick Bibby turns 90

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Dick Bibby is 90 years old today. He has never stopped making friends anywhere he goes, and after 90 years, that is a lot of friends. We had a party for him on Friday. Bill Saarinen’s father was a captain on many boats including the Ernest T. Weir, a Hanna boat where Bibby was the agent. Bill grew up and spent two years on the lakes including a stint on the Weir. Before he grew up, he would be at home waiting for his dad to come home. His mother would call Dick when she was not sure where the boat was (back in the days of no internet, cells phone et al). Dick always found the boat, and called back to tell the family, one of thousands of calls Dick made and still makes to keep in touch and help out. That is Bill in the silver hair, lower middle, handing a special hat to Mr. Bibby. Saarinen came up from his home in the UP, one of many to show up and surprise Mr. Bibby. Click picture for larger version and click here to see the Friday special edition of  the Duluth Shipping News: 2012daily0601bibby