This past Thursday, our industry lost one of its best, Jim Morasch. Jim was the director of Tri Cities Airport in Pasco, Washington.
Some might think that someone running a relatively small airport in a far corner of the country might not be of such consequence, but that was not true. Jim understood that the air transportation system needs the best effort from all of its leaders, and Jim was dedicated to that proposition every day. He served for years on ACI-NA’s Goals and Programs Committee, and also served on the board of AAAE, serving as its president some years back. Jim encouraged the active participation of his staff and board members in industry activities, one of his board members, Ernie Boston, is among our most active Commissioners Committee members. To me, this ability to see the big picture, and to be determined to play a role in shaping it, are the real signs of a leader. Jim was a leader in the airport industry with few peers.
Jim was one of this country’s real heroes, flying helicopter rescue missions in Vietnam. When the going was tough, and wounded buddies were on the field of battle, Jim was one of the people who came in to get them – even sometimes when the action was still a bit thick. The guts that takes, I just don’t have anything in my life to compare it to.
My last communication with him was just a few days before the car accident that took his life. We had invited all airport directors to a meeting to discuss some legislative priorities and he was letting me know he could not make it but was interested in the outcome. The meeting was held the day he had his accident. How I wish his schedule had allowed him to join us that day. And, I will never forget how the mood in the meeting changed as word of Jim’s accident, and his critical condition, spread among his colleagues.
I did not know him as well as I would have liked. But a former colleague of mine here at ACI-NA, Steve Van Beek, wrote to me after learning that Jim had died. This is what he said:
“Jim was a:
1. Nice guy/gentleman
3. Never wore it on his sleeve
4. Could think big for the industry and small for his airport.
5. Saw value in AAAE and ACI-NA.
One of those guys who is absolutely key to have as a board member; the impact goes far beyond his individual contributions.”
If you could have seen the look on the face of two dozen of his colleagues as I did the day we learned of his accident, you would know just how widely these sentiments were shared, and just how large a hole his death leaves in the industry and in the hearts of his friends and colleagues.
Jim Morasch, RIP