Robert “Bob” Leith
Past President 1975-80Bob Leith is the unofficial Dean of the P.R. Shipping Association having commenced his long association with the industry on July 1 1946 when after serving in the U.S .Coast Guard in World War 2 for three years, two of which were sea duty , he joined the Waterman Line Division of the Waterman SS Corp. in San Juan as Manager of their Passenger Department. In 1954 he resigned as their Traffic Manager and founded the Bob Leith Trucking Co .and later on that year together with a Miami entrepreneur Eric Rath, they pioneered the roll on roll off method of shipping full sized cargo trailers from South Florida to San Juan, PR. using leased tugs and WW 2 converted 1st (Landing Ship Tanks) as barges completely revolutionizing this industry to this day .The firm was known as TMT Trailer Ferry.
The Ro-Ro method grew considerably in 1971 when Leith invited Thomas A, Crowley ,Sr. to look over Puerto Rico as an expansion to his long time San Francisco based empire of tugs and barge services serving the West Coast to Alaska area. Adding modern equipment including expanding his already gigantic barges to record capacity to the PR service the firm today enjoys more than one third market share of the USA-Puerto Rico trade limited by the Jones Act to American flagged vessels. Puerto Rico Line Inc. served for many years as Crowley’s shipping agent and Bob Leith later on as their advisor up to the year 1993 when all commercial relations ceased amicably.
Bob Leith has been a human dynamo serving the Island in the arts and sports promotions , diplomatic service and world civic leader in the Chamber of Commerce of PR for over 50 years Presiding it in 1983-84 and still active in the prestigious Advisory Council of Past Presidents that he has Presided over many times. Amongst others he presently is the Senior Adviser in Puerto Rico for BEST BUY the world wide leader in electronic equipment retailing with four stores already opened in Puerto Rico and more on the planning board.
He is the Founder and presently presides the Hall of Fame of Sports in Puerto Rico that in 2008 celebrated their 50th Anniversary with the Board of Directors dedicating to him their Annual Induction Ceremony held in Mayaguez, P.R.
In 2010 he expects to join with his fellow co-founders in celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the P.R. Shipping Association as he remains an active member. Leith is also very active with the Coast Guard Foundation as President of the Puerto Rico Chapter and is extremely proud of his recent official appointment as Honorary Admiral of the Coast Guard.
He was happily married to his Puerto Rican childhood sweetheart Barry Leith for 56 years until her sudden death in 2002 .His son Bobby and daughter Kathy Leith de Souffront live in PR and daughter Myra L. Coe lives in Vero Beach, Fl. He has three Grandchildren Franco Pietri Leith, Katerina Pietri de Chaves and Robert J. Leith Krumhansl and the latest addition first Great Grandson Carlos Alfonso Chaves Pietri. He has already been nicknamed by Bob Leith Sr asCaptain