From the mountains of Colorado to the prairies of Southeast Texas, the Mediterranean Sea, the South China Sea, the North Atlantic and back again to the Ports of Galveston andTexas City, Captain Jim Coonrod has made a career navigating the intricate waterways of the world. A seasoned mariner, Coonrod recently retired from the Galveston-Texas City Pilots after 38 years of superlative service.
Coonrod left high school in Colorado in 1963 at the age of 16 for College Station, Texas to prepare for a life at sea. After graduating from Texas A&M in 1967, he has been actively engaged in the Maritime industry. He has had the opportunity to support the war effort in Vietnam as a third mate for Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., follow adventure on the high seas and live by the ebb and flow of the Texas waterways.
After building a working knowledge of the Galveston and Texas City Ports working for G&H Towing, Coonrod became a Galveston-Texas City Harbor Pilot in 1973. In his many years of service, he has piloted some 14,000 ships.
A reception was recently held in Coonrod’s honor at the San Luis Hotel in Galveston. Friends, family and colleagues gathered to honor him and thank him for his invaluable service as a harbor pilot. Coonrod was awarded a State Proclamation signed by Governor Rick Perry to honor his long career and service, and many fellow pilots nostalgically indulged in many colorful stories of the fun-loving honoree.
The colleagues who knew Coonrod best said a few words about his service to the maritime community and his affinity for dancing, food and revelry. Long time friend and retired harbor pilot retired Captain Jack Smith made the heartfelt remark that “our profession is better because of Jim,” and Captain Harry Wallfish celebrated Coonrod’s “boundless positive attitude.”
Twice the Presiding Officer of the Galveston-Texas City Pilots and recipient of the Meritorious Public Service Award from the US Coast Guard, Coonrod has been an exemplary Harbor Pilot and citizen.
Since 1845, the Galveston-Texas City Pilots have served as the Sentinels of the Ports of Galveston County, ensuring environmental and public safety by navigating each vessel and its contents without incident. They maintain professionalism by treating their customers with respect, while stimulating economic development within the Galveston community and the state of Texas.