Inductees - 2015

Franklin Daiber

Franklin Daiber


Franklin Daiber, Professor Emeritus, (1919-2003) was hired by the University of Delaware in 1952 as its first faculty member to teach marine science. He also was charged with developing a marine program. He became chief of the UD Marine Laboratory in 1962 and director in 1968. He was a leading force in establishing the UD College of Marine Studies.

Frank developed an outstanding graduate program in marine fisheries and tidal marsh ecology and trained over 70 graduate students, many of whom went on to become leaders in their fields. He and his students published their discoveries in over one hundred scientific journal articles.

Frank was a world-renowned pioneer in tidal wetlands research and brought Delaware to the forefront of tidal wetlands conservation. He authored two books (Animals of the Tide Marsh and Conservation of Tidal Marshes). He greatly assisted Delaware’s Division of Fish & Wildlife in developing needed management measures for the state’s fisheries and tidal wetlands. Frank served on numerous national, interstate, and state boards and committees. He was the Governor’s appointee to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the first chairman of Delaware’s Advisory Council on Tidal Finfish.

In 1986, the US Navy housing complex in Lewes, previously transferred to UD, was dedicated to and renamed the “Franklin C. Daiber Residence Complex”, honoring Frank’s distinguished career in estuarine research and his leadership in developing the UD marine program. Those in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and Frank’s former students and their progeny stand on his shoulders today.

E. Michael DiPaolo

Mike DiPaolo


E. Michael DiPaolo has displayed his deep connection to Delaware Maritime History through his numerous contributions and achievements. Perhaps most notably, his vision, leadership and hard work produced the transformation of the Cannonball House (c. 1760). He helped transform Lewes’ Cannonball House into a modern maritime museum presenting interpretive and interactive displays, signage and artworks that convey Lewes’ relationship to the sea. It is one of the most visited museums in the region.

Mike’s outstanding reputation has resulted in his being utilized frequently for design ideas, educational programs and speaking engagements, including the Delaware Day Dinner in 2014. He is also known for his work on Lewes’ 375th anniversary celebration, War of 1812 Commemoration, Lewes’ Maritime History Trail and Lewes’ preservation efforts.

His leadership qualities are well-evidenced by his national, state, and local service in: National Trust for Historical Preservation, U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, Small Museum Association, Delaware Heritage Commission, Delaware Tourism Alliance, Delaware Museum Association, and Preservation Delaware. He has a long history of community service achievements and has earned the Nancy Hanks Memorial Award for Professional Excellence, American Association of Museum Award 2011, 2007 Delaware Tourism Person of the Year, and 2006 Southern Delaware Tourism Person of the Year.

Mike resides in Lewes with his wife and family. He serves as Executive Director of the Lewes Historical Society. He has been selected for induction due to his steadfast commitment to preserving and sharing the history of Lewes and its maritime history.

Willis C. Hand

Willis C. Hand


Willis C. Hand was a waterman whose lifetime dedication to the oyster industry helped revive the Delaware shellfish industry in the last half of the twentieth century following MSX disease in the fifties and the spring storm of 1962. He was instrumental in implementing the oyster reseeding program in Delaware.

As a young boy in Kent County Willis worked on his father’s boats raising and processing oysters at the Hand Oyster business in Port Mahon. Eventually he took over the business from his father and partnered with Danny Fox to work natural oyster beds and seed leased areas. By shifting to crabbing he survived the decline of the oyster industry.

His leadership among waterman is apparent by the many commissions and offices he held over his lifetime. Willis served on the Delaware Shellfisheries commission and Delaware Council of Shellfisheries from 1969 to 2001, where he served thirty years - twenty-five years as chairman. Willis saw the policing activities of the oyster industry move over the years to DNREC. He was the only waterman to be appointed to the Delaware Farm Bureau for eight years, and he was elected vice president. He served six four-year terms nationally on the American Farm Bureau Federation Aquaculture committee.

In retirement he keeps his licenses up-to-date and continues to operate his boat collecting conchs and crabs. Because of his reputation and knowledge of the Delaware Bay the experts continue to seek his opinions about Delaware’s shell fish industry and the health of Delaware’s waters.

Capt. Jacob Jones

Capt. Jacob Jones


Capt. Jacob Jones was a naval commander from Delaware during the War of 1812. He was raised in Lewes during the Revolution. Before joining the Navy, Jones served the Dover community as a doctor and also as the Clerk of Delaware’s Supreme Court.

In 1812 as Master Commandant of the USS Wasp, Jacob Jones sailed from the Delaware River and defeated the Brig HMS Frolic in a fierce naval battle in the Atlantic. This action helped keep the supply lines to Philadelphia open on the Delaware Bay. A contemporary historian stated that: “Of all the victories achieved by single vessels, perhaps the most brilliant, and which will probably long stand on record without parallel, is that of the Wasp.”

As the War of 1812 continued, Jones commanded the USS Macedonia in New York and Connecticut. Later he helped maintain control of the Great Lakes as commander of the USS Mohawk. His actions played a critical role in assuring United States’ independence and territorial integrity as guaranteed in the Treaty of Ghent.

After the war Jones continued to serve in the Navy until his death in 1850. For his service he was honored as a national hero by the city of New York, the city of Philadelphia, and the State of Delaware. His commissioned portrait hung in Delaware’s Old State House. He was inducted into the Society of Cincinnati on July 4, 1813. Delaware Governor John M. Clayton described his U.S. Navy career by stating, “The love of country was his ruling passion.”

Elaine Simmerman

Elaine Simmerman


Elaine Simmerman was a leader in the group who came together in 1999 to save Delaware’s U.S. Landmark – the Overfalls Lightship, LV118.

As a long-time member of the Overfalls Board of Directors, she served as its second president, secretary, newsletter editor, fundraiser, ship guide, and education committee chairperson. As a direct result of Elaine’s leadership, determination, creativity, and fundraising skills, she was responsible for raising the 1.2 million dollars needed to save the endangered Overfalls Lightship, which serves as an example of the lightships that served as navigational aids for vessels entering the Delaware Bay.

In addition Elaine helped establish the Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame and was instrumental in creating the Lewes Education Coalition, a Lewes-based group committed to bringing the richness of Lewes’s maritime heritage to Delaware’s school children.

The Lewes City Council chose Elaine to serve on the Lewes Historic Preservation Commission, which is charged with preserving the historic and maritime character of the City of Lewes. As chairperson she encouraged the other commissioners to share responsibility for writing, editing, printing, and distributing a guide for Lewes property owners who were interested in rehabilitating Lewes’s historic houses. Under her leadership she publicized and promoted the use of Delaware tax credits for historic restoration efforts.

Throughout the state Elaine has encouraged others to join the effort of preserving Delaware’s maritime past and become stewards of Delaware’s maritime community. Elaine has empowered others to spread the word of Delaware’s maritime heritage so that it remains memorable.