Capt. H. Hickman "Hick" Rowland, Jr.November 12, 2017
Capt. H. Hickman (“Hick”) Rowland, Jr., of New Castle, passed away Sunday, November 12, 2017 surrounded by family.
Hick Rowland was born in Lewes on September 27, 1940, the son of the late Harry and Thelma Rowland.
When asked about where he grew up, Hick would reply joyfully, "I grew up in heaven. I grew up on Lewes Beach." Hick had many wonderful memories of trying to keep up with his big sister, Sandra. It was on Lewes Beach that Hick fell in love with sailing, placing as high as second place in National Championships. While later in life Hick could not find the time to sail, the fundamentals he learned would serve him extremely well running tugboats and handling ships as a docking pilot.
Hick went to St. Andrew’s School in Middletown for 8th-12th grades. As a student, he was active in all aspects of the St. Andrew’s community and was a two-time state wrestling champion. He remained highly engaged with the school throughout his life, serving as President of the Board of Trustees. He was also intimately involved with the creation of the nearby St. Anne’s Episcopal School, and currently served as its President of the Board of Trustees.
Hick obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was a member of their Varsity Crew and Wrestling programs. After graduating from Penn’s Wharton School of Business in 1962, Hick went on to become an investment banker first in New York and then in Philadelphia.
In 1969, Hick left with a friend for Australia where they spent two years. It was here that Hick met his wife, Carey, to whom he has been happily married for the last 46 years.
Hick returned to Delaware and joined Wilmington Tug, which his father, Capt. Harry Rowland, started in 1965. Hick grew the company from a one tugboat operation into a large ship assist tugboat company on the Delaware River, currently operating eight tugboats from bases in Wilmington and Philadelphia. In 1977, Hick commissioned the building of the Tina, the first ASD Z-drive “tractor tug” in the United States. Hick was a visionary and his firsthand expertise as both a tugboat captain and docking pilot allowed him to appreciate how tractor tugs would significantly enhance safety in ship docking operations. Today, tractor tugs have become the industry standard in the ship assist business across the United States. Wilmington Tug’s six tractor tugs comprise one of the largest fleet of tractor tugs operating commercially in any single Port on the U.S. East Coast. Hick was happiest on the water on the bridge of a ship and docked over 20,000 ships as a pilot in his lifetime. Continuing the family business tradition, Hick’s son Chris joined Wilmington Tug and has worked alongside his father for the past 15 years.
Hick also established other business ventures. In 1973, he founded Delaware Bay Launch Service to service tankers performing lightering operations at Big Stone Beach Anchorage. Today, DBLS operates four crew boats from its base in Slaughter Beach. In 1983, Hick co-founded Marine Lubricants, Inc. Operating from its base in Wilmington, Marine Lubricants is the largest transporter of engine lubricants to ships that call on the Delaware River.
Hick has long been an advocate for seafarers and established the Seamen’s Center of Wilmington in 1990. The Seamen’s Center offers respite and support to seafarers, and has assisted nearly 200,000 mariners to date. It is fully staffed by volunteers and the long-standing success of the center is one of Hick’s proudest achievements.
Hick was well-respected and admired among peers and served on multiple Maritime Boards, such as: the Board of Directors of the Diamond State Port Corporation; the Board of Directors for the Maritime Exchange of the Delaware River and Bay; Member and past President of the Board of Directors of the Port of Wilmington Maritime Society; Member, and current Secretary, of the Mariners’ Advisory Committee for the Bay & River Delaware.
He has also been honored for his achievements and service with prestigious awards, such as: the 1999 Babiarz Award Presented by the POW Maritime Society, the 2005 US SBA Delaware Family Owned Small Business Person of the Year, and the 2011 Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame.
Hick also served as Commissioner on the Municipal Services Commission of the City of New Castle, and on The Vestry of the Immanuel Episcopal Church in New Castle.
In addition to his many career successes and contributions to his community, Hick was always first and foremost a family man. He loved family dinners, board games, cheering for his grandchildren on the sports fields, and going to the theatre. He is predeceased by his parents Harry and Thelma Rowland, and his daughter Sally. He will be dearly missed and is survived by his wife Carey, sister Sandra, son Chris (Jenny), daughter Lindsey (John), and 5 grandchildren (Madeline, Sawyer, Harrison, Anise, and Finnegan).
Hick’s smile, laugh, patience and wisdom will be sorely missed by his family, friends, colleagues and seafarers from around the world.
A Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life of Hick Rowland will be held on Saturday, December 2 at 1:00pm at ST. ANDREW’S SCHOOL, 350 Noxontown Rd, Middletown, DE 19709.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Seamen’s Center of Wilmington, P.O. Box 405, Wilmington, DE 19899, or St. Anne’s Episcopal School, 211 Silver Lake Rd, Middletown, DE 19709.
To offer condolences, please visit: gebhartfuneralhomes.com