Highway dedication to honor Garms' legacy

It's not often that highways in Southeast Missouri are named after civilians.

That's how it should be. It's a rare distinction that should be given only after careful consideration and based on supreme accomplishments. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, the highway dedication has to have a legislative sponsor and be supported by at least 100 signatures.

Today at 11:30 a.m., a highway dedication ceremony will be held to name a portion of Route AB between Ramsey Creek and County Road 303 the Irvin Garms Memorial Highway, a stretch of road for which Garms played a key role in having raised to avoid flooding.

Garms died at the age of 96 in 2011 after a 70-year career in construction, engineering and international finance. He is more than deserving of having his name memorialized in connection with this highway.

Locally, Garms is most known for his involvement with the SEMO Port, but his work is known across the world.

Over his career, Garms rose to be the top executive of multiple construction and energy-related companies. He served as a board director of more than a dozen domestic and multinational companies.

A product of the depression era and humble beginnings, Garms was a self-made success. He directed the construction of man-made harbors for refineries in Puerto Rico; helped execute a pipeline in Alaska; he directed highway construction jobs in more than a dozen states, Japan and Kuwait; oversaw several dam projects and was perhaps best known for his marine construction work. The list of accomplishments is as prolific as it is impressive.

Perhaps Garms will be most remembered locally for his work with the SEMO Port, now a huge economic driver for the Southeast Missouri region, allowing for farm operations and other companies to ship their products and materials via river, rail and highway. He served as a commissioner of the SEMO Port Authority for 20 years. His expertise in so many areas of industry and construction was an invaluable asset to the Port Authority.

It's fitting that the dedication ceremony will be held at the port today.

Pete "Rice" Burns, port authority chairman; John M. Thompson, past board chairman; Kathy Swan and Peter Kinder will make remarks. The port is located at 10 Bill Bess Drive in Scott City.

The highway designation is more than just appropriate. It is a common-sense way to recognize and preserve the history of a great man who helped shape the Southeast Missouri region and the world well beyond the Mississippi River.