By Dorie Cox
Maritime laws and regulations confound many yachting professionals, but Amy Morley-Beavers guided three decades of mariners through their interpretations, both individually and industrywide. Her work focused on USCG, CFRs, MERPAC, and more, but her most important acronym was MPT.
Mrs. Morley-Beavers died Nov. 5 of complications from heart surgery. She was 47.
Many family, friends and colleagues describe Maritime Professional Training (MPT) in Ft. Lauderdale as a big part of her life. She served as a liaison for the marine industry as vice president of regulatory compliance and academic affairs at the school her parents, Elmer and Bev Morley, started in 1983.
Mrs. Morley-Beavers started work at the school at age 17 and earned her 100-ton U.S. masters ticket in 1991. As an instructor, navigation was her favorite course, but she taught OUPV, 100-ton master, radar observer unlimited, stability, deck general, celestial navigation and more.
Capt. Bernard Charon met Mrs. Morley-Beavers more than 20 years ago as a student and is currently an instructor of simulation, radar, electronic navigation and meteorology at MPT.
“She became an instant friend,” Charon said. “That’s generally the story of everybody. I liked her right away and she was there to help, right away.”
A life-long learner, she nurtured others to do the same.
“No question was out of place and she never put you down,” Charon said. “She tried to answer in the best way. How she had time for everyone? I don’t think anyone can answer that.”
Mrs. Morley-Beavers was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease in 2009 and had dialysis three days a week. She eventually received a transplant in 2014. Most people are not able to continue working in Beavers’ condition; legally disabled, she underwent more than 20 surgeries.
“She did suffer,” Charon said. “About 4 or 5 in the evening, after classes, we would talk and she would say, ‘It’s rough, it’s painful’.”
“And then she stayed until 7 at night working,” he said. “But she was always ready to smile, even when in pain. It would be amazing for you and me, but not for her.”
“She was a personal cheerleader to the students,” said Julie Liberatore, manager of marine personnel for Seabulk Tankers. Mrs. Morley-Beavers hired Liberatore in 2001 and she worked as regulatory liaison and manager of student administration until 2014.
“Amy was always encouraging them, especially when they were in a particularly difficult class and wanted to quit,” Liberatore said. “She always knew what to say to get them refocused and have confidence in themselves.
“Amy was never about doing the minimum,” she said. “If you earned the time and were qualified for a license or upgrade, she encouraged you to do it. She helped mariners apply for things they didn’t even know they were qualified for.”
Although Mrs. Morley-Beavers helped thousands of students individually, it was her work with the industry as a whole that leaves a lasting effect. Mrs. Morley-Beavers represented mariners on the U.S. Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) for the past three years. In 2014, she was appointed its vice chairman. MERPAC advises the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on training, qualifications, licensing, certification and fitness of seamen in the merchant marine in national and international service.
“She worked tirelessly in regulatory issuance and compliance,” Liberatore said. “I can’t imagine there is a U.S. mariner sailing today who has not been affected by her work, whether or not they attended MPT. No matter what was happening in her life, she never lost focus of the mariners.”
Early in her illness, during one of her hospital stays, Liberatore asked what could she could bring Mrs. Morley-Beavers to the hospital.
“I was expecting her to say slippers or soup. She said, ‘Go to my desk, get 46 CFR 1-40 and two different color highlighters’,” Liberatore said. “Once, she was too weak to even walk, yet she grabbed her wheelchair, we got on a plane and went to a MERPAC meeting with the USCG because it was, ‘too important to miss, Julie’,” Liberatore said.
Mrs. Morley-Beavers was awarded a USCG Public Service Commendation from the commandant for her contribution in improving safety in the US Merchant Marine from February 2013 to November 2016.
The commendation states, “Capt. Beavers’ observations, perspective, good humor and above all her sincere desire to improve safety and training within the maritime community were a welcome and highly valued attribute that will be missed by both the coast guard and the maritime industry.”
Much of Mrs. Morley-Beavers work became an epicenter for other yachting businesses including National Marine Suppliers in Ft. Lauderdale owned by Dean Dutoit, a former yacht captain.
“There wouldn’t be a National if it wasn’t for MPT, Elmer and Amy,” Dutoit said. “I wouldn’t have gotten my captain’s license, wouldn’t have seen the need for this service.”
Dutoit recalled being in a class for his captain’s license in 1989 and Mrs. Morley-Beavers saw him struggling with tides and currents.
“You just don’t get it, do you?” she said. She and her father tutored Dutoit through and when she handed him his captain’s license, he said, “she looked like it was the proudest day of her life. She didn’t need to do that but she did it.”
“We’ve all had teachers, and then we’ve had teachers,” Dutoit said. “And then we had Amy.”
And she helped others like Rai DeSousa, owner of Yachty Rentals in Ft. Lauderdale. Six years ago he approached her with his idea to transport crew to STCW training at the fire field and pool. Previously crew found their own transportation.
“I asked if she needed my bus for taking people places,” DeSousa said. “She said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’.
“She opened doors for me that led into other doors and opportunities,” he said. “She helped my company grow and had faith and vision with my services.”
Her impact was felt as school board member at her son Matthew Greenspan’s former school, Bethany Christian School, which is part of the family’s church, Rio Vista Community Church.
Nearly 400 people attended a memorial service on Nov. 12 at the church. The industry and the community continue to share their personal stories in messages on social media and news websites.
“Amy was a driving force in the maritime training industry,” Capt. Jeff Ridgway wrote on Facebook. “A trusted source of reliable licensing information and always willing to help us mariners in any way possible. Above all else, she was true professional and a true kind and generous soul. She will be greatly missed.”
Mrs. Morley-Beavers is survived by her son, Matthew Greenspan; her mother, Beverly; sister, Lisa Morley; and brother, Ted Morley. She was preceded in death by her father, Elmer, and a brother, Michael Morley.
A memorial fund has been set up by her family at the Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center in honor of her passion for helping children with special health care needs.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Publisher Lucy Chabot Reed contributed to this story. Comments on this story are welcome below.
Click to read a full profile of Morley-Beavers from The Triton in 2011.