Jim Black Leaves Legacy as Dedicated Leader in Houston Port Region

Port Bureau News,

James “Jim” Black, longtime CEO and president of Moran Shipping Agencies Inc. (“Moran”) and member of the Port Bureau’s board of directors, passed away after a brief illness in July. He was an advocate for the shipping industry and the port region and a mentor to many in the industry. 

While born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Jim had lived in Texas since 1975. He began his career with an eye toward restaurant management, but his brother, Robert “Bob” Black, soon ushered him into the shipping industry.

“Bob introduced me to the shipping agency at the Moran organization in 1974, and I was hooked in a month! I did agency work in New England ports, mostly in the Providence area where I provided service to both the vessel and crew members,” Jim shared in a 2019 Port Bureau News interview. Bob Black had purchased the company in 1970.

He soon sent Jim to the J.F. Moran office at Logan Airport in Boston where he became the export manager, quickly working his way up to custom house broker. Six months later, Bob Black was ready to open a Houston office, but no one from the office wanted to move to Houston. Jim packed up his car and drove to Texas in June of 1975 to open the first Houston office.

This became the catalyst to opening new offices in strategic ports in the Southeast over the next 15 years. In 1986, his brother turned over the company to Jim and another brother, Mike. It has continued to operate as a closely held family corporation, maintaining the highest quality standards, and Jim lead it to become the largest independent steamship agency in North America.  Jim was known for his “unyielding commitment” to both the success of the company and the well-being of its employees.

Jim loved sports, especially baseball, while growing up. A physical condition with his foot required several surgeries during his childhood, but Jim had such enthusiasm for baseball that he hit the ball with one of his crutches and a teammate would run the bases for him.

“I loved baseball so much I would walk miles on my crutches to go to my team’s games. My favorite player was Ted Williams. He was arguably the greatest hitter of all time and the last player to hit .400,” Jim recalled in the 2019 interview.  “I went to his baseball camp when I was a Little League All Star. I hit three homeruns in front of Williams. When I crossed home plate after my last one, he congratulated me. It was the greatest thrill of my childhood.”

Family was a high priority for Jim. He married “the love of his life” – Beth – in 1986, and the couple moved to The Woodlands, Texas, to make their home. With his wife and sons, he made regular trips to Massachusetts to spend time with childhood friends and relatives.

Jim also took an active leadership role in local port communities, industry organizations, and non-profits. He served on the boards of St. Pius X High School, the West Gulf Maritime Association, the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents, the Greater Houston Port Bureau, and many others.

Jim’s longtime commitment to the Houston maritime industry and community was recognized by the Port Bureau board of directors when they named him as the 2019 Maritime Leader of the Year. Over 700 colleagues, friends, and public officials turned out to honor Jim as he was recognized at the Port Bureau’s 90th Annual Dinner.

Jim is already greatly missed, but his legacy of leadership, commitment, and passion for the port community will continue as an inspiration to all.