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DuRay honored with Airport Manager of the Year award

MARQUETTE — Duane DuRay, airport manager at Sawyer International Airport, was recently honored with the Michigan Association of Airport Executives Airport Manager of the Year award at the MAAE’s 66th annual fall conference.

The award, presented Sept. 13 at the Boyne Highland Resort near Harbor Springs, recognizes DuRay’s “dedicated service to the aviation industry and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives, and his ongoing commitment to the future success of Sawyer International Airport,” according to MAAE.

DuRay said the peer-driven award, which he feels is “one of the highest honors” he could receive, came as a complete surprise.

“It’s a real honor to be given an award for something that you absolutely love doing,” he said.

DuRay has been airport manager at Sawyer International Airport since 2012 and has worked in various aspects of aviation for 30 years, he said, but his love for the work has remained strong throughout his career.

“It’s a passion,” DuRay said. “That’s really what drives a person, is their passion.”

During his time as airport manager, DuRay has worked on a number of projects that “continue to improve the passenger flights, safety and airport improvements,” according to a press release from Sawyer International Airport.

DuRay has been involved in the recent airport runway rehabilitation project, updating the airport’s master plan, adding a Minneapolis/St. Paul flight, as well as several Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement grant projects.

One of the most significant projects DuRay has undertaken, he said, has been moving the airport to a higher level of security. This work has been both challenging and rewarding, he said.

DuRay has also helped to bring in funding that supported some of these projects, airport officials said.

“He was largely responsible for bringing in approximately $6 million in federal and state funding for airport improvements over the last year,” according to the press release.

Sawyer Operations Manager Steve Schenden, who spoke about DuRay’s responsibilities as airport manager, said the award is “well-deserved” by DuRay.

While DuRay is highly honored to receive the award, he said he’s just been “doing his job” for the people and travelers of Marquette County.

“I’m not working so I can get the blue ribbon or the trophy to hang on my wall, I do it because I absolutely love what I do,” he said.

While the position of airport manager can be a challenging role, DuRay said he thoroughly enjoys it.

“I feel very blessed to be in a position that I come to work and I truly enjoy the challenges,” he said.

Before serving as airport manager at Sawyer, DuRay was airport manager at Gogebic Iron County Airport. He is also a licensed aircraft maintenance technician and holds an Inspection Authorization through the FAA.

Sawyer International Airport serves over 100,000 passengers annually, with five daily commercial flights to Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul, three of the larger Midwest primary aviation hubs, according to the release.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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