Through 60 years and a handful of owners, the venerable towboat Western, a 167-foot, 4,200 hp workhorse, has plied the rivers without a name change. It was built in 1956 by Dravo Corporation for Union Barge Line. However, now operating by Western Rivers Boat Management, a towing firm in Paducah, Ky., which has owned it since 2006, the vessel finally has something besides Western on its nameboard. The company recently renamed it the mv. Danny Etheridge.
Its namesake, the brother of Janice E. Strait and brother-in-law of the company’s founder, Charles Strait, holds a very special place in the Strait family because he is the oldest living person to have both cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome, according to Jason Strait, the company’s vice president of operations. “He will turn 65 in August, and has spent most of his life confined to a wheelchair,” Strait said.
“Danny has been blessed with a great family. They have taken care of him his entire life in their home in Rosedale, Miss., where they still live today,” Strait said in an announcement to his employees. “He always loves talking about catching ‘dem-boats’ with ‘Capt. Charlie.’ So, we are pleased to rename the mv. Western in honor of such a great man.
Western Rivers also renamed the refurbished Miss Janice the mv. Clinton Matthew after Charles’ great grandson. The boat had been out of service since sinking in 2008 at New Orleans, La.