ST. IGNACE, Mich. – After 30 years, a beloved toll collector at the Mackinac Bridge has retired.
Pat Rickley has been described as an “ambassador of sorts” for the Michigan landmark. The Michigan Department of Transportation states that the toll collector has made thousands of acquaintances over the past three decades.
“Whether we’re talking about hunting, fishing, golfing, or quads, Pat has always been very welcoming and friendly,” expressed Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) Chairman Patrick “Shorty” Gleason. “His dedication to greeting motorists is second to none.”
The toll collector grew up in the St. Ignace area. After graduating from St. Ignace LaSalle High School, Rickley joined the army and served in the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One.”
“St. Ignace is a beautiful area,” says Rickley. “I still live in one of the most beautiful places.”
Aside from his duties on the Mighty Mac, the toll collector served on the board of directors of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Since joining the MBA, the toll collector has provided a positive experience for many crossing the Mackinac Bridge. A skill that MDOT acknowledges is how fast Rickley is at his job. The toll collector could process about nine cars per minute and holds the record for most vehicles processed in an hour, resulting in 489 sets of wheels crossing the Straits of Mackinac.
Rickley says he looks forward to his days as a free man in retirement. While he worked the evening shifts when his child was young, he will now have more time to spend with his grandchildren and attend all of their sporting events. The toll collector says he enjoys being outdoors and is excited to use the brand-new canoe that he has in storage.
“I get to meet so many different people, see so many different personalities. It’s been a good time,” said Rickley.
During the 30 years working on the Mackinac Bridge, Rickley has helped extinguish camper fires, assisted broken down motorists, covered tolls out of his own pocket for those who come up short, and reported intoxicated drivers.
MDOT broke the news of Rickley’s retirement on Friday via Facebook. You can see that post below:
Below are comments from those who have interacted with Rickley over the years:
“Pat is my favorite collector, I always look for him when I cross every summer. Enjoy your retirement!”Patty Martens -- Sheridan, Mich.
“We always called him the “Aanii Kwe” guy! It was so wonderful to be greeted in Anishinaabemowin before we drove over gichigami. ♥️ congratulations on your retirement!”Paula Finfrock -- Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
“Happy retirement, Patrick! We always looked forward to you greeting us on our trips across the Mighty Mac. Best wishes to you!”Bryan Barkway -- Canandaigua, Mich.
“First time I remember him was a time when my uncle and I crossed the bridge, both of us with long hair and dark rim glasses and he said “hey look! It’s the Hanson Brothers!” After that I always hoped to pull up to his booth in the future. Always friendly. Best wishes in retirement.”Chris Dickman
“Pat has always been such a wonderful person to greet you across the bridge! He will be missed, but super excited for him to start this new chapter! ✨'Lauren Chamberlain -- Engadine, Mich.
“One of the best things about visiting the U.P. is the people and Pat is one of the best!!”Marshall McGeath -- Delaware, Ohio
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