Inductees - 2007

Milton W. Cooper

Mr. Cooper, 93, has a biography filled with maritime adventure and experiences spanning more than eight decades. Still living in the Bethany Beach home in which he grew up, Cooper’s life has been spent in, on and around Delaware’s waters and other waters of the world.  He started working as a waterman at the age of nine, helping his father catch turtles and fish, which were shipped to New York City restaurants.  After graduating Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Cooper joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1935, serving for 22 years. He saw action during World War II as an operator of a beach landing craft taking the first wave of U.S. Marines ashore at Guadalcanal. He was at the Battle of the Coral Sea where he witnessed the downing of 28 Kamikaze aircraft.  During the 1960s, Cooper captained the University of Delaware’s R.V. Wolverine and R.V. Skimmer, a position he held for 15 years.

Cooper is the last living commander of the Indian River Lifesaving Station.

Capt. David W. Hiott IV

Capt. Hiott lives fresh in the memories of those who met him aboard or had the opportunity to be part of the crew of Delaware’s Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel. Hiott, the Kalmar Nyckel’s first captain, succumbed to melanoma last November. He was 47.  A resident of New Castle, the Greenville, S.C. native functioned as both captain and goodwill ambassador aboard the 1600s-era, Swedish sailing ship replica. Hiott, an expert tall-ship rigger, was master and commander of a vessel that provided a classroom for teaching sailing, lessons in maritime history and breathtaking surprise when the 93-foot-long ship slipped quietly up the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal during Lewes’ 375th anniversary celebration in 2006 letting loose a volley of cannon fire.

Robert F. ‘Bobby’ Senseny

Mr. Senseny knows just about everything there is to know about docking a ship at the Port of Wilmington. Senseny, 79, of Penn Acres in Wilmington, has served as the port’s harbormaster for more than 60 years.  Still on the job, Senseny, 79, oversees the docking of every ship that visits the port.  “Without a doubt, the port of Wilmington would not be what it is today without the expertise of Bobby,” said Gene Bailey, Port of Wilmington executive director. Senseny’s, commitment to the job is unwavering. He recently arrived at work at 4 a.m. to oversee the arrival of a cruise ship after having worked until 6 p.m. the day before.

Washington A. Vickers

Mr. Vickers entered the ranks of the U.S. Lifesaving Service in 1878 when wooden boats propelled by muscle and oar put to sea in all kinds of weather on frequently perilous rescue missions. Vickers served as a lifesaver for 37 years, distinguishing himself through his work ethic. Born in Seaford in 1842, Vickers rose through the ranks of the lifesaving service starting as a regular surf man moving to the position of keeper, the equivalent of commanding officer.  “His many years of service and great courage in the face of danger have left a legacy for those who still work today to make our Delaware waters safer,” read a statement nominating Vickers.  In 1903, the General Superintendent of Lifesaving Services commended Vickers at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Vickers died in 1930.

Capt. John Penrose Virden

Capt. Virden of Lewes is known as the father of the Pilot’s Association for the Bay and River Delaware. Virden’s foresight and leadership helped usher in the era of steam-powered vessels to transport pilots to cargo-carrying ships. Virden also brought order to what earlier had been races among pilot boats to be the first to reach a ship; getting a man aboard first meant getting the job. He served as the pilot association’s first president beginning in 1891 and remaining in the position for 21 years. Virden’s home, finished in 1888 on Second Street in Lewes, today reflects the Victorian-era during which he lived.