W.J. (Jim) Amoss, who led the drive to reopen the US-China shipping trade when he was president of Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., died Monday at his New Orleans home due to complications related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to local news website nola.com. He was 95.
During a 46-year career with the US-flag carrier that began in 1947, Amoss was an influential maritime industry leader who received a number of awards, including Admiral of the Ocean Sea in 1993.
Amoss made his biggest impact on the maritime industry by negotiating with Chinese officials for the reopening of the US-China trade in 1979 after it had been closed for 30 years under Communist rule. China is now the largest overseas US trading partner.
“His intellect, integrity, and personality made him a natural leader and an articulate advocate for his company and for the US-flag liner industry,” said Joe Bonney, a former JOC reporter and editor who worked at Lykes in the early 1980s.
“He was a remarkable man, with interests ranging from great books to Saints football,” Bonney said. “At Lykes, he set high standards and treated the lowliest mailroom clerk with the same warmth and respect that he showed fellow executives. I never knew of a CEO who was more loved and respected by his staff, or who deserved to be.”
Amoss was born in New Orleans on Sept. 28, 1924. He received a business degree at Tulane University after serving with the US Navy in the Pacific theater in World War II.
After serving as Lykes’ director in Europe for 10 years, Amoss returned to New Orleans in 1974. He became CEO and retired in 1993. He then served as a maritime industry consultant and founded Sea Point, a proposed container transfer facility in Venice, Louisiana.
Amoss is survived by five sons, 12 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.