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Longtime friend of maritime and labor, James Oberstar, passed away on May 3. He was 79 years old.

Oberstar served in the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Minnesota. First elected in 1974, he rose in seniority and power becoming the influential chairman of the House Transportation Committee. From that position, he oversaw where federal dollars were spent on all kinds of transportation projects, including assistance for the Great Lakes.

A Democrat, Oberstar was known for his ability to work with members of both parties to accomplish what was needed for the American people. That ability to work and help others actually led to his defeat when he sought reelection in 2010.

“Congressman Oberstar was someone who understood what was needed to make the U.S.-flag maritime industry work, whether it was on the Lakes, the rivers or the seas,” stated MTD President Michael Sacco. “He worked for everyone and is greatly missed.”