TRIBUTE: Husick was an industry pioneer, advocate

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062409HusickCharles “Chuck” Husick, editor of “Chapman’s Piloting and Seamanship,” former chairman and president of the Chris-Craft Boat Co., freelance writer for numerous boating magazines and longtime public policy advocate for the nation’s boat owners, died Monday at his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., after a lengthy illness.

Husick came to the attention of the boating public in the late 1980s when he took the helm of the ailing Chris-Craft. The company had been under scrutiny for months by the BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau for building boats that had delamination problems.

Rather than stonewall the allegations, Husick immediately promised to get to the root of the problem and fix things. BoatU.S. officials were so pleased by his forthright pro-consumer approach that he was the first industry veteran named to the BoatU.S. National Advisory Council, a post he held until his passing.

Although Husick was first and foremost an engineer who worked on the Gemini manned space program and held senior positions at Cessna Aircraft Co. and Fairchild Industries, he was also a bluewater sailor and a pilot who rose to the top public-policy ranks of the marine and general aviation industries. He served on the board of the Radio Technical Commission for Marine Services, an industry/government group that coordinates marine electronic standards for the United States, and as chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

He held a 100-ton Coast Guard Master’s License, taught courses in marine diesel engines and marine electrical systems in his spare time, and his long-running “Ask Chuck” column in BoatU.S. Magazine was his forum to respond to and explain the mysteries of modern marine technology. He also was a contributing editor to major boating publications such as Sail, Cruising World, Power & Motoryacht, Yachting, Ocean Navigator and Southern Boating. He also was a frequent contributor to Soundings, Trade Only’s sister magazine.

Husick’s most endearing quality was that he was a tireless public policy advocate for recreational boaters – in many respects the Don Quixote of recreational boating.

Convinced that the widespread use of Type I marine sanitation devices would result in cleaner water than no-discharge zones that went unenforced, he hounded everyone who would listen and made more than a dozen trips from Florida to Washington, D.C. – at his own expense – to lobby Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency.

He was also a tireless campaigner for continued funding of Loran-C and for the rights of cruising boaters who, while anchoring, often were at the mercy of local law enforcement officials.

More recently, he and his son, Lawrence, a national security expert, played a key role in fashioning a unified industry response to Bush administration concerns after the USS Cole terrorist attack that small boats could be a threat to national security.

Husick is survived by his wife of 17 years, Louisa, a sister, two sons and four grandchildren. Only time will tell how those of us who relied on Husick for answers to so many of life’s questions will survive his passing.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water.

— Michael Sciulla

Former editor and publisher, BoatU.S. Magazine and BoatU.S. senior vice president of government and public affairs


12 comments on “TRIBUTE: Husick was an industry pioneer, advocate

  1. Bill Lindsey

    To say I will miss Chuck is a massive understatement. I first met him when I was writing for Boating and kept bumping into him at media events – he was the one huddled with the engineers while the rest of us were at the bar. When I was the editor of Southern Boating, I relied upon Chuck to provide concise (ok, “wordy” may be a better description) articles on all things electronic so that the rest of us could understand them. I also co-conspired with him on his annual April Fool columns that quite often really did fool readers. He was a great authority on all things marine and aviation-related, but more than that he was my friend.
    I will miss him and I shall endeavor to live up to his standards.
    Bill Lindsey
    VP of Marketing
    Star brite

  2. Rick Jones

    Having had an opportunity to share many conversations about marine charging systems with Chuck, I always appreciated his ability to discuss the complexities of the technology, then turn around and make them less overwhelming for the reader. I always looked forward to our discussions. The Balmar staff extends its warmest regards and condolences to Chuck’s family. He will be missed.
    Rick Jones
    VP of Marketing

  3. Sandy Daugherty

    Chuck was never politically correct.  Yayyy Chuck!  He was never ready to accept wishy-washy editing in lieu of concise description, and seldom hid the gritty side of any subject with a polite, solicitous gloss.  Even in his last months, he could draw on his thorough research and long time familiarity with new developments in the technology of marine electronics to present a semi-balanced view.  I say semi-balanced because he was never afraid to express his opinion.  Better an opinion from someone you know than the gravy-coated fluff from press releases to be found in the words of so many other reporters. 
    Chuck, old buddy, you are facing a new audience, and I hope a Bay full of good old boats, too;  Keep that flag flying, and delight in making some of those pious old farts go cross-eyed again!

  4. Pete Johnson

    Michael… an excellent tribute to Chuck Husick, one of the marine and aerospace industries true leaders. Thank you for your writings and encapsulating the life of this amazing man. I had the great fortune and pleasure to work for Chuck at Chris-Craft and learned a lot just listening and watching him.  Truly a remarkable man that righted that classic boat company and did it quickly by actively rolling up his sleeves and with common sense, logic and using his vast engineering and people skills made things happen.  He was an excellent writer on so many subjects, and a friend who you valued his thoughts and chosen words.  Chuck was an amazing gentleman who will dearly be missed.  Pete J.

  5. Joe Hersey

    I’ve known Chuck since the 1990s.  I will miss his pushing us at the Coast Guard to improve maritime communications, and in particular digital selective calling.  It was largely due to his influence that we implemented DSC test calls and made obtaining maritime mobile service identities easier for the mariner. He was a good friend to the Coast Guard, to me and the maritime community, and will very much be missed.

  6. Captain Bob Armstrong

    I liked Chuck! But that shouldn’t be a surprise; most peole did. What I especially liked about him was that when he had somethng on his mind, Chuck rarely bit his tongue. But what he said usually made sense because his considerable knowledge: of engineering, boats and aircraft gave him a perspective that was usually right on the mark. That his knowledge was also derived from much practical experoience didn’t hurt either. I also felt that we were kindred spirits in that he also seemed to consider himself a professional (in his case, an engineer) who also happened to write for the general boating public rather than being a “journalist” who wrote abuut boats and aircraft. This will be said often, I know; but I feel compelled to repeat itt; Chuck will, indeed, be sorely missed–by the indutry as a whole and expecially by those who knew nhim personally.
    Captain Bob Armstrong

  7. Ross Norsworthy

    I want to testify that Chuck Husick will forever be remembered by me and my family as “Uncle Chuck” the finest mentor imaginable. He would so often cut right to the heart of a matter with his wonderful use of his four most effective tools: intelliegnce, knowledge, candor and humor. He taught me, “If necessity is the mother of invention, then persistence must certainly be its father!” In running the race of life in the fast lanes of hi-tech business, Chuck was my best mentor for the last 25 years, from 1985 to 2010. I could not have made it without him!
    In loving memory,
    Ross Norsworthy

  8. Tim Cole

    Chuck Husick played a vital role as contributor to the marine publications at Belvoir Media Group (Practical Sailor and Powerboat Reports) and also provided crucial moral support to Belvoir’s Aviation Consumer at a time when our “Consumer Reports”-style reporting wasn’t necessarily in favor. As a highly placed and well-respected leader in two of the industries we cover, Chuck’s encouragement was especially helpful to editors and reporters who shared Chuck’s inquisitiveness and quest for meaning. On a personal note, I would often call Chuck for a sanity check when attempting to find the correct path through some pretty thorny issues.  His counsel was always both sage and timely. When I told Chuck my son was interested in a career in engineering, his first response was to set a lunch date, and he was happy to drive to my house to offer guidance to a young man now toiling in the defense industry. Chuck was a gem, a prince, a legend. And Mike…your tribute to this astonishing gentleman was superbly rendered.
    Tim Cole
    Executive Vice President
    Belvoir Media Group

  9. Charlie Zaloom

    Many here at Sea Tow knew Chuck and we are all deeply saddened by his passing. Everyone respected his incredibly broad experience, enthusiasm, clear thought and strong voice about important issues. Around the office today, we all felt a sense of loss and questioned whether there is anyone around that can fill his Sperrys (we couldn’t think of anyone).
    On the brighter side, cheers to you Chuck for a life well-lived!
    Charlie Zaloom
    Vice President, Business Technology
    Sea Tow Services International

  10. Barbara Lippert

    I have a fond affection for ‘industry pioneers’ – I am a beneficiary of Chuck’s tenancity and dedication to the marine industry and thank him for such.

  11. Rich Galasso

    I was fortunate enough to have worked with Chuck a few times during my years in VHF at Standard Horizon and Uniden. It was my distinct pleasure and honor as this was a truley gifted man that lived his life with dignity and class. We would all be so fortunate to live as full a life as Chuck. Well done my friend…

  12. Bob Markle

    Chuck Husick was elected to the RTCM Board of Directors in 2002, the same year in which I became RTCM President. I am grateful to him for his passion to continuously advance the state of maritime communications and electronic navigation. He drove us all to improvement in what we do through his extensive knowledge, eloquence, and wry humor. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues at RTCM, who benefited from his wise counsel for many years.
    Bob MarklePresidentRadio Technical Commission for Maritime Services

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