• 50°

LSCO helps mariner take last ride

To The Leader

 

Michael Rodgers spent 40 years captaining tugboats through local waterways. 

It was a career that kept him on the water and provided well for his family –a wife and four sons – in Orange. 

However, that career came to an abrupt stop two years ago when he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Eighteen months ago, his doctors told him he had only two years left in his life. 

“After he got cancer his license expired and he never got to finish his career on his own terms,” said Michael’s daughter-in-law, Farrah Premeaux. 

Recently, Lamar State College-Orange was able to play a small role in giving Michael the chance to be a captain again. 

Chad Premeaux, Michael’s oldest son, and Farrah’s husband had heard about the LSCO Maritime Program with life-like simulators of local waterways. With his dad’s birthday coming up, Chad contacted the program through Dean Gina Simar, asking if his dad could spend some time on the simulators to relive his four-decade-long career on the water. 

Dean Simar, in turn, reached out to Captain Chris Horner, the director of the Maritime Program, who also has a storied career on international waters. Captain Horner jumped at the chance to give this experience to another mariner and even took it a step further by arranging for Michael to take one last ride on a tugboat – this time with his family. 

“This is cool to be able to show his kids what he did,” said Farrah, who studies Sociology at LSCO. “It’s a good idea and I’m proud of my husband for it.” 

Chad quickly replied, “What do you get someone who has everything? You get them an experience for a retirement and birthday gift.” 

In the simulator lab, Michael directed his sons – Chad, Kevin, Stephen, and Corey, and daughters-in-law, Farrah and Rachell – how to properly maneuver through the Bolivar Peninsula waters, the busiest intersection of U.S. waterways. Leaning over their shoulders and pointing at the computer screens, he directed them to through the rough waters and they all laughed when their boats crashed. 

“These are good kids,” Michael said. “Their mother raised them right because I was gone all the time.”

Chad said they recently lost their mother, Brenda, so the brothers check in on their dad and make sure he’s ok. 

This day, though, was all about their dad.

“Letting him drive a boat will be his final hurrah,” Farrah said. “Today he’ll walk off the boat and know it’s his last time.”