Inductees - 2009

Frank “Thumper” Eicherly IV

Eicherly, in a Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame precedent-setting performance, carried on the musical tradition of generations of watermen when he picked up his guitar and sang “Old Fat Boat,” a song he penned.  

“Another mile from another town . . . the wind’s out of the east and the rain’s coming down.  It’s a home to the sailor and home to the sea, it’s a home to the mildew and a friend to the flea,”

Eicherly sang.  He thanked his parents and wife for their support during his long absences at sea. Eicherly said his wife didn’t attend the ceremony because she was flood-sitting their Bowers Beach home.  Among reasons for Eicherly’s induction – he’s a working waterman – was his introduction of methods that have reduced the number of horseshoe crabs harvested as bait.

H. Dale Parsons

Inductee Capt. H. Dale Parsons said it had recently occurred to him that Lewes has played a significant role not only in Delaware’s maritime history, but also in the maritime history of the region.  He said Lewes’ ship pilots – then and today – made it possible for vessels to safely navigate to ports in Wilmington and Philadelphia.   “Lewes has always been a love of mine. From the time I was a child on up,” Parsons said.  Parsons expanded the Lewes-based charter and head boat fishing fleet business started by his father Harry “Pappy” Parsons.  Parsons is also credited with hiring some of the area’s first female crewmates, unheard of at the time, and for introducing sport fishing to a diverse group of people.

Otis H. Smith

Otis Smith, a giant in the menhaden fish processing business during the 1940s and 1950s, was inducted into the hall posthumously.  Smith served as mayor of Lewes for 18 years, during which time he also continued to work as president of his Lewes-based Fish Products Co.  His widow, Hazell Smith, accepted the honor on her husband’s behalf. She said Otis Smith told her that if she married him she’d “live in the nicest and most wonderful town in the whole United States.” “He said I’d have the privilege of living with my wonderful neighbors and citizens of Lewes, who were the greatest in the world. I couldn’t resist,” she said.

James White

James White said his 45-year career as a mariner has been a great one. “ I guess I was born with saltwater in my blood. My father went to sea, and I have relatives who are pilots,” he said.  White worked for Sun Transport Inc. and the Pilots’ Association for the Bay & River Delaware. He and a partner, Ched Rogan, founded Coastal Launch Service Inc., which provided supplies and services to ships in the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.  White said most of his time at sea had been enjoyable but he remembers one time that was not – the sinking of the Marine Electric – a coal carrier that went down off the coast of Virginia.  “We were the second ship on the scene. We tried to pick up survivors; however, there were only three who survived out of the entire crew,” White said.  He said those who perished died of hypothermia. White said after the tragedy, he and Rogan equipped their vessels with life rafts and survival suits.  “I’ve enjoyed my entire career. I owe a lot of thanks to my wife and family for putting up with me being gone from home 60 to 70 percent of the time,” he said.

Arthur “Skinny” Wilson

During a 35-year period, Arthur “Skinny” Wilson provided leadership and service to International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1694.  Wilson, elected in 1953, was the union’s first black president. He was honored posthumously. His son, Mark, accepted the award on his behalf.  “He was a helluva man,” Mark said. He said he didn’t know much about his father’s working history, and he asked Pat Cook, his dad’s former co-worker, to speak about him.

“I first served with Skinny in 1963, when I came down on the waterfront. Skinny was the man in charge of the wheel at that time – he was tough.  “Skinny was a little guy, but he had a big voice. He was a powerful man, in his way,” said Cook, who nominated Wilson for induction.  Cook said Wilson spent 25 years preparing him to become Local 1694’s president.  “I consider it an honor to have had the opportunity to nominate him for this,” Cook said.

Tim Delp**

This year marked the first time the hall of fame committee has given a meritorious service award. Award recipient Timothy Delp of Lewes served a career as a Marine Sealift Command deck officer. The civilian sealift command provisions military ships at sea with food, supplies and ammunition. Delp said a while ago, his young daughter wrote two sentences that succinctly described what he did. “My daddy travels all over the world. My daddy keeps care of our country,” Delp said.

   ** Meritorious Service Award