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Jesse Brent began his life on the river as a teenager, serving as a towboat deckhand, then pilot and engineer. He started on packet boats with his father on the Yazoo and Sunflower Rivers. He then worked for the Army Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi. Most of his life, he was a builder as well as an operator of towboats and other marine equipment.
In the 1940s he was one of the founders of the Greenville Towing Company. He bought a wooden hull boat for $800 and applied for a loan to equip the boat with engines, at a cost of $960. The salesman added a zero to the value of the wooden hull, making it $8,000, and his loan application was approved. Brent Towing Company was formed in 1956 with Jesse Brent as the president and chairman of the board.
Jesse Brent was a founding member, board member and officer of the American Waterways Operators and served as chairman of the board of the association in 1963. He also served as a board member for the National Waterways Conference for several years.
Jesse Brent died in 1982, and his two sons, Lea and Howard, and three grandsons, Jesse, Lincoln, and Collins, continued the business until it was sold to the Kirby Corporation of Houston.
Honored in 1986.
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