"Hugh, come up when you get a chance!" A welcome message heard many times while traveling aboard the Alaska State Ferry System. The familiar voice was from the "bridge" over the public address system and from the Captain, Karl Schoeppe.
On a trip to Seattle years ago while my two youngsters were at a very impressionable age, Karl asked that we come to the bridge. It was just breaking day, not a cloud in the sky and the big city was decked in her finest Christmas attire. Neither my children nor myself will ever forget that sight.
I first met Karl in 1955 where he lived in Juneau not far from the airport at a business called Airport Sales and Service. There, his parents operated a small cafe and service station while raising three children: Karl, Ann and Barb.
Growing up, Karl was a likable sort and without doubt of above-average intellect. That intellect paid off, as out of high school he received a congressional appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. He earned a B.S. in Marine Engineering. He also holds a 3rd Mate Ocean License and a 3rd Assistant Engineers License in unlimited steam diesels. While working through the years, he has earned his Puget Sound and Southeast Pilotage licenses and also achieved his Masters License in inland waters. I write this tribute to Karl to show our appreciation. "Our" meaning all who travel the Marine Highway System enjoying his friendship and his competence.
Over the years, many who work with Karl have expressed their praise for him, as he treats everyone fairly and allows each to perform his or her jobs without interference ... a trait that all subordinates wish their supervisors possessed.
Karl, you must be fast approaching retirement and when that day arrives we will all surely miss you.