In the most difficult decision members of the AMO Executive Board have had to accept, longtime friend and colleague Joe Gremelsbacker announced his resignation as AMO Deep-Sea Vice President due to his health.
As many of you know from direct personal experience, Joe is a valiant, effective and loyal advocate of the professional and personal interests of the seagoing AMO membership through pursuit of grievances, oversight of the deep-sea dispatch operation, assisting with dues management and engaging in lengthy conversations with engine and deck officers at headquarters and on the phone.
Joe has battled cancer and the added debilitating effects of radiation and chemotherapy bravely for seven years. He has worked from home and he has spent time in the hospital.
Nevertheless, Joe has agreed to remain aboard in an unofficial role to ease a transition for his successor - further testament to Joe's career-long commitment to our union and to the strength of his character. He will serve as Deep-Sea Emeritus - an unprecedented symbolic title reflecting a most distinct honor.
To ensure sustained administrative stability in American Maritime Officers, AMO National President Paul Doell has appointed veteran AMO Chief Engineer Jeff Richards to complete Joe's term as Deep-Sea Vice President as authorized under Article VIII Section 1(e) of the AMO National Constitution. Joe has endorsed Jeff - who has 18 years of deep-sea service and 17 years on the Great Lakes - for this important position.
Like Joe, Jeff is outspoken, articulate, thoughtful and passionate on all issues. Like Joe, Jeff is driven by the relentless will to do what is right for the AMO membership. Joe and Jeff will work together closely on the day-to-day responsibilities of the AMO Deep-Sea Vice President.
Joe's health and its implications for the AMO membership have been discussed frequently with Joe and within the AMO Executive Board for several months - a tough topic. But we on the board are grateful to Joe for fighting heroically for American Maritime Officers for more than 30 years.
Joe has more than earned the right to set more time for himself and to be as comfortable as he can be under his challenging circumstances. His decision will allow at least this much, and it will enable Joe to spend more time with his beloved daughter, Morgan, who has been at Joe's side through much of his struggle. All AMO officials, representatives and employees are standing by to help Joe and Morgan in any way.
Capt. Willie Barrere
National Executive Vice President