Stockton (Tock) Rush was our classmate, in many cases club mate, and in all cases, our friend.
We knew Tock as a joyful, gregarious, intelligent man with a wonderful sense of humor; a great friend; a loving husband. Someone who dreamed big and wasn’t afraid to chase those dreams. He and his family are famously generous; an object lesson in the notion that “to whom much is given, much will be required.”
Tock was a rigorous scientist, engineer, pilot, and explorer. Tock’s pursuit of his dreams was inspiring, his ability to live those dreams and his encouragement and his example helped others chase and attain theirs. He challenged himself to reach new heights and was constantly seeking the betterment of the earth and its oceans. OceanGate provides support for many true research expeditions at no cost.
History shows us that exploration and innovation are inherently risky and dangerous. We mourn the loss of our friend and the other crew members, and our hearts break for their families and friends.
We’re disappointed, if not entirely surprised, at the outpouring of armchair quarterbacking about the science behind his work. It has also been easier to predict failure than to lead the innovation and be willing to risk everything to push the limits of the human experience. In our grief over the loss of Tock, we found The Daily Princetonian’s story that highlighted his family history and some of the transgressions of his youth over his accomplishments inappropriate and, to a certain extent, mean-spirited. Tock was a hard-working student who excelled in the MAE program, was the world’s youngest commercial jet pilot, an F-15 test pilot, and an adventurer without limits.
As we collectively look back at cutting edge technological events, both positive and negative, that will never be forgotten (e.g., Apollo 11, the Challenger and Columbia tragedies, Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic) it’s extraordinarily impressive what Tock put together at his company of less than 50 employees and $37 million of funding. He creatively sought simpler solutions and didn’t/couldn’t spend billions on trying to figure out how to make things perfectly safe, if such a state even exists. As an entrepreneur, he embodied the spirit of innovation and thinking outside of the box.
In our lives we rarely meet someone who, on first impression, is so unique. Tock was a joy to be around; he made us laugh, he left us in awe, and we will always mourn his loss. We collectively hope that, when it is our time, we are remembered not for our weakest moments of judgment, but for living life as Tock did — one full of passion for everything new and interesting, and one that left absolutely nothing on the table.