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Deep Sea Explorer Stockton Rush Perishes at 61
Underwater pioneer and adventure enthusiast Stockton Rush often echoed, “the ocean is the universe. That’s where life is.” A sentiment that drove his lifelong passion for oceanic exploration.
A Titan’s Loss in the Atlantic
Stockton Rush, esteemed founder and CEO of OceanGate, and pilot of the Titan submersible, was reported dead this Thursday. The remnants of his vessel were located at the base of the Atlantic Ocean, closely surrounding the decaying remnants of the RMS Titanic. He had reached the age of 61.
Rush presided over the financial and technical sectors of OceanGate, a privately-held research and tourism firm situated in Everett, Washington. He launched the firm in 2009. He co-founded the OceanGate Foundation three years later, promoting technological innovation for the advancement of marine archaeology, history, and science.
From the Skies to the Depths
At 19, Rush held the distinction of being the youngest pilot to secure a jet-transport rating in 1981, marking his initial venture into adventure. But he soon found the expanse of the skies limiting.
Rush expressed his initial aspiration to Fast Company magazine in 2017, saying, “I wanted to be the first person on Mars.”
However, at 44, he let go of his space-faring dreams, acknowledging the lack of economic feasibility for interplanetary travel in the near future. His vision shifted to the potential in underwater exploration and embraced the associated risks and rule-breaking required to achieve his goals.
Speaking to “CBS News Sunday Morning” last year, Rush asserted, “I mean, if you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed. Don’t get in your car. Don’t do anything. At some point, you’re going to take some risk, and it really is a risk-reward question. I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.”
Legacy of a Visionary Explorer
Born Richard Stockton Rush III, he descended from two signatories of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton, and belonged to one of San Francisco’s most prominent families.
Born in San Francisco on March 31, 1962, Rush was introduced to wealth and influence from an early age. His father helms the Peregrine Oil and Gas Company in Burlingame, California, and the Natoma Company, managing property investments in Sacramento. His grandfather presided over the American President Lines shipping company. His grandmother, Louise M. Davies, is the namesake for the San Francisco Symphony Hall.
The family wealth primarily came from Ralph K. Davies, who started his career as an office boy at Standard Oil of California at the age of 15 and quickly climbed to become the youngest director in the company’s history.
Rush, an alumnus of the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1984.
Before OceanGate’s inception, Rush held positions on the board of BlueView Technologies, a Seattle-based sonar developer, and as chairman of Remote Control Technologies, producing remotely operated devices. He also acted as a trustee for the Museum of Flight in Seattle from 2003 to 2007.
Titanic Family Ties and the Allure of the Deep
In 1986, Rush married Wendy Hollings Weil, an accredited pilot and account manager for magazine publishing consultants. She would later take on the role of Director of Communications for OceanGate.
Weil’s lineage traces back to Richard Weil Jr., former president of Macy’s New York, and to Isidor Straus, co-owner of Macy’s, and his wife, Ida, who
were among the wealthiest individuals who perished in the sinking of the Titanic. Tales of the Titanic remember Mr. Straus declining a spot on a lifeboat when women and children were still waiting to escape the sinking ship. Ida Straus, refusing to leave her husband, stood arm in arm with him on the Titanic’s deck as the ship met its fate.
Details about Mr. Rush’s surviving relatives have not been revealed.
In an interview with CBS News, Rush admitted that navigating the ocean at depths of several thousand feet demanded caution against obstacles like fish nets and overhangs. However, he stated that these safety concerns should not impede a thrilling career where risk often yielded not just monetary gains but unparalleled experiences.
“It really is a life-changing experience, and there aren’t a lot of things like that,” he explained to Fast Company. “Rather than spend $65,000 to climb Mount Everest, maybe die, and spend a month living in a miserable base camp, you can change your life in a week.”
Rush’s voyages in the Titan provided him the thrilling experiences he longed for.
“I wanted to be sort of the Captain Kirk,” he expressed. “I didn’t want to be the passenger in the back. And I realized that the ocean is the universe. That’s where life is.”
FAQ: Who Was Stockton Rush
Stockton Rush was the founder and CEO of OceanGate, a private tourism and research company, and pilot of the Titan submersible. He was renowned for his adventurous spirit and contribution to marine science and archaeology.
Stockton Rush tragically died when his submersible, Titan, was found wrecked at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, near the remains of the RMS Titanic.
Rush, at the age of 19, was reported to be the youngest jet-transport-rated pilot in the world. He graduated from Princeton University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He also worked as a flight test engineer on the F-15 program at the McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
Rush believed that interplanetary travel was not economically feasible in the near future. As a result, he saw potential in underwater exploration and was willing to take risks and defy norms to fulfill his ambition.
Stockton Rush hailed from one of San Francisco’s most notable families, tracing his lineage back to two signers of the Declaration of Independence. His family was associated with various businesses, including the Peregrine Oil and Gas Company, the Natoma Company, and the shipping company American President Lines.
Rush was married to Wendy Hollings Weil, a licensed pilot and substitute teacher, who served as the director of communications for OceanGate.
Rush was a strong believer in risk-reward balance. He maintained that to achieve substantial rewards, one must be willing to take risks, and that extreme safety measures can often hinder exhilarating experiences.
Stockton Rush himself had no direct familial ties to any passengers of the Titanic. Yet, his wife, Wendy Hollings Weil, held a historical connection to the ill-fated voyage. She was the great-great-granddaughter of Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, prominent figures who tragically lost their lives on the Titanic.
Yes, Stockton Rush was indeed aboard the Titan, a submersible vessel he piloted. It’s also worth mentioning that Rush was the founder and CEO of OceanGate, the company behind the Titan. His life tragically ended when the Titan was discovered shattered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.