The National Achievement Award is the highest honor presented by the National Rivers Hall of Fame to those people who are making significant contributions to America’s waterways. The National Rivers Hall of Fame with members in 36 states is the only national museum telling the stories of the people of America’s rivers.
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Honored in 1999
Donald Bollinger was a considerable asset to economic growth along the Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana. He was born in Raceland, Louisiana, on April 19, 1915 to George “Bud” Bollinger and Etinette Daviet. He graduated from Lockport High School in 1932 at the height of the Depression, after which he attended business and banking courses at Nicholls State University. In his twenties, Mr. Bollinger started his promising business career working for Barker Barge Line where his father also worked.
Around 1900, Donald’s father, Bud, developed and patented a steam-powered steering system that was used widely in steamboats on America’s rivers for over seventy years. When steam gave way to diesel power, Donald converted it to a hydraulic system.
In 1946, he left Barker to start Bollinger Machine Shop & Shipyard on Bayou Lafourche. He was highly influential in America’s shallow-draft and deep-draft marine industry, and in the communities where his shipyards are located. He eventually expanded his business to include nine shipyards.
By any economic standard, the Bollinger operations’ growth from a single shipyard to one of the nation’s leading shipbuilding businesses is a monumental achievement; yet the contributions Mr. Bollinger made to his community, education, and his church are equally important. Donald Bollinger, who passed away in 2000, had the ability to gracefully ride the crests and troughs of the economy which is evident in his achievements and the waterways growth he inspired.