All aboard. All aboard, the 2:30 ride of the Memphis
Queen II cruise.
As Capt. Dale Meanley Lozier (BS 69, MS 72) hails
the passengers on shore, she checks for heavy winds. She grips
the knobs of the large wooden wheel used to turn the 110-foot
sternwheeler and reflects on life on the Mississippi.
Dale Meanley Lozier (BS '69, MS '72)
The river has a lot of power, Lozier says. I
feel like Im getting a good dose of God when Im
out there. I feel like Im getting renewed.
A second-generation riverboat captain, Lozier and her brothers
were raised around water.
When we were growing up, she recalls, my
dad bulldozed a five-acre lake into our front yard. We used
to swim and go water-skiing in it.
Even before she was born, her parents story began on
It all started on a canoe, she says. Her father,
Capt. Thomas Meredith Meanley and mother Carol Kimball got
engaged on a canoe trip on Horseshoe Lake in Arkansas. It
was their fifth date.
After a stint in the Navy, Meanley moved to Memphis and joined
the news staff of the now-defunct Memphis Press Scimitar.
Assigned to cover outdoor news, he became intrigued by the
Mississippi River. He followed his fascination, and in the
summer of 1960, he bought a fleet of riverboats and launched
a new career.
Lozier and her brothers became part of the family business
navigating a series of passenger and party boats on
the Mississippi around Memphis. Her father passed on his fascination
of the river to his children and raised a litter of river
rats, she says.
But her father wasnt content to merely pilot boats
on the river. In 1963, he decided to build his own showboat.
It was amazing what my dad could do from reading books,
Lozier says. He used to read for two hours every morning.
My dad developed a talent for learning through reading and
read his whole life.
Meanley soon discovered he could build the showboat cheaper
in his backyard than by bidding out the job. So he traded
in his press pass for a captains hat and completed the
Memphis Showboat in the spring of 1964.
sights such as the Hernando DeSoto Bridge are commonplace
for Lozier and her passengers. The second-generation riverboat
captain says she grew up on the Mighty Mississippi.
Ill never forget that first trip, Lozier
says. It was just barely finished. It was windy and
dad had never landed the boat with people on it before. It
took him three or four tries, but he finally landed it safely.
That first year, the Memphis Showboat made only seven cruises,
but the entertainment vessel soon earned a reputation as a
favorite spot for weddings, concerts, high school proms, the
Cotton Carnival and other large social events.
Meanley wanted a smaller boat, so he built the one-deck,
two-stern wheeler named the Belle Carol. Once again he ordered
a hull and completed it himself.
When he ordered the Showboat, all he got was the hull,
the main deck and the supports, Lozier says. So
he had to do his own plumbing, electricity, bulkheads (walls),
all the trim, and had to make sure it met all Coast Guard
requirements and fire safety codes.
After the Corps of Engineers built rock dikes along the Arkansas
side of the river, the Belle Carol could no longer navigate
the muddy waters. So Meanley started designing the 400-passenger
true sternwheeler Memphis Queen III, but before christening
it in 1979, he completed the 65-foot yacht Lorac thats
Carol spelled backward.
Meanley built the Lorac to go on a worldwide cruise with
his wife. The couples Sunday school class came to see
it when it was finished.
It was huge and had a cabin on top of it, Lozier
says. It was painted with red lead, which gave it the
appearance of wood. They asked my dad if he had some kind
of divine revelation and if he was collecting animals in pairs.
Loziers mother died before her parents could take the
yacht around the world, but the couple enjoyed many local
trips on the boat, which looked suspiciously like Noahs
Loziers interest in riverboats can be traced to the
beginning of the family business, before the new boats were
built. She and her brothers Jerry and Capt. Jake Meanley
(BBA 71) worked on the boats from childhood.
She soon befriended deckhand and U of M student, Capt. John
H. Lozier Jr. (BS 66) The two shared their love of the
river and married six years later in 1968. When her father
retired, John took over as president and general manager,
with Lozier and Jake at his side.
Dale Meanley Lozier has entertained a variety of guests
throughout the years, including Al Gore, Cybill Shepherd,
Mother Theresa and Ringo Starr.
That same year, Dales father pushed her to get a river
pilots license. She signed up for classes at the River
School, but opted to take the test early. After a lifetime
around river vessels, Lozier was able to earn a perfect score
on the Rules of the Water.
After 22 years, I had kind of learned it by osmosis,
Lozier and John raised a third generation of water
babies John Thomas or J. T. and William
Dale Lozier. They were river rats from birth,
she says. J. T. and William were raised on the boats and each
boy earned a pilots license as soon as he was old enough.
The family earned a living for years as the business grew,
running dinner parties and private cruises. But tragedy struck
in May of 1988 when John died of cancer. Loziers brother,
Jake, took over as general manager and ran the Memphis Queen
line with her help. William remained in the family business
The deaths of J. T. and Loziers brother threatened
to sink her plans for the business. At that point, I
thought, What am I going to do, she says.
But she persevered, relying on her faith, her family and her
love of the river.
Despite the hardships, Loziers life remains fully anchored
to the river. She and her second husband, Ralph Bagwell, bought
a 600-passenger, three-deck party boat they dubbed the City
The boats bring joy to Lozier and to the people who
ride them. Shes entertained celebrities such as Mother
Teresa, Cybill Shepherd, Ringo Star and Al Gore.
While Lozier loves the crowded cruises, it is the pull of
the Mighty Mississippi that continues to lure her to the Memphis
Theres just something about the river thats
hard to stay away from, she says. No where else
can I feel the same calm and serenity.