River Bell Awards Celebrate Community

Dec 19, 2012

by Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano, Special Events Manager

View photos from the event here.

On Thursday, December 13, 2012, with pre-holiday spirits running high, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) organized the 13th Annual River Bell Awards Luncheon in Paducah, KY celebrating the spirit of the inland river transportation community and two individuals who have strengthened its bonds. This year’s event honored H. Nelson Spencer and The Waterways Journal and Paducah, KY Mayor William F. Paxton III.

H. Nelson Spencer, publisher of The Waterways Journal—which this year celebrates its 125th anniversary—received SCI’s River Legend Award recognizing his involvement in the building up of the river industry community. Often called “The Riverman’s Bible,” Spencer’s publication reports on news, events, people and technology along the inland waterways. Spencer’s son, Nelson Spencer, Jr., who called his father his “personal hero and role model,” presented the award, extolling the magazine publisher’s work ethic, modesty, loyalty and kindness.

William F. Paxton III, Mayor of Paducah, KY, accepted SCI’s River Bell Award for championing the evolution of one of the most important river transportation operations centers of the Western rivers. During Paxton’s 12-year tenure as mayor, he strengthened relationships between the city and the river industry, facilitating relocations and expansions of many river industry companies. In the Paducah, KY area, maritime companies employ more than 6,000 people.

The event provided a platform for SCI Chairman of the Board Richard T. du Moulin to announce the Institute’s newest special event, the SCI Mountain Challenge, scheduled for September 2013. The event places teams of three in a physical endurance test that traverses 25 miles and five mountain summits in western Maine.

SCI established the River Bell Awards in 2000 to recognize the contributions of an individual, company or organization to the inland maritime industry. Proceeds from the Institute’s luncheon support SCI’s Ministry on the Rivers and Gulf, a recently expanded program offering pastoral counseling, support and fellowship to the maritime industry’s employees and shoreside management.

With 343 supporters attending, the Institute’s fundraiser event brought in more than $185,000 for SCI to serve river mariners.

Special thanks go to the Committee who coordinated the event.

River Bell Chairman
H. Merritt Lane III
Canal Barge Company

Rick Calhoun

Keith Darling
AEP River Operations

James Farley
Kirby Corporation

C. Ronald James
James Marine

Mark K. Knoy
American Commercial Lines

Steve Little
Crounse Corporation

Craig E. Philip
Ingram Barge Company

William T. Smith
Canal Barge Company

Peter H. Stephaich
Campbell Transportation Company