Inductees - 2021


Connie F. Benko


 

Connie F. Benko is being honored for her efforts as an educator and volunteer whose tours of Lewes have educated tourists and Delaware citizens alike on the maritime history of Delaware and Lewes.

In 2004, for the Lewes Historical Society (LHS), Connie Benko developed and led a weekly Historic Lewes Trolley Tour for eight weeks in the summer. The ferry terminal provided the trolleys and drivers. Within four years, under her active leadership, the program continued and expanded to 36 tours per week with 12 docents. Connie conceived an expanded tour program to include the history of other activities of the coastal area (menhaden fishing, pilots) and the structures of the historic Harbor of Refuge (lighthouses and breakwaters) as well as the maritime defense and naval activities of Fort Miles. She personally conducted a one week trial tour in the summer of 2013. It was such a great success that it was conducted several times a week for the following three seasons, only ending when busses were no longer available.

Many hundreds of out-of-state visitors have taken Connie’s tours and returned home with an enhanced understanding of the maritime history of Delaware’s maritime heritage. The numerous docents that she trained continue to give walking tours for the Lewes Historical Society.

In addition, Connie helped start “UD at the Sea”, a four-day seminar for Delaware residents via University of Delaware Osher Life-long Learning (LLL). Each year there are over 200 attendees and four additional LLL sessions on Lewes maritime history.


James M. Falk


 

James M. Falk is being honored for his visionary leadership to the Delaware and national Sea Grant programs. Jim Falk's career was a steady stream of local, regional, and national successes that improved land use, water quality, environmental literacy, and coastal economies.

His leadership of the Delaware Sea Grant program emphasized his favorite interests of coastal tourism and sustainable coastal development. Because of Jim’s vision, tireless efforts and demonstrable outcomes, the state supported a Sea Grant sustainable coastal community program, including a landmark Inland Bays Water Use Plan. Through Jim Falk’s advocacy and contributions that “Resilient Communities and Economies (RCE)” have become a core NOAA Sea Grant national focus area. It is now part of most state Sea Grant program strategic plans. Because of his expertise, Jim became an executive committee member of the Sea Grant Sustainable Coastal Community Development Extension Network and a member of National Sea Grant Sustainable Coastal Development Focus Team. He has participated in over 40 boards and committees, including chair positions, with the Sea Grant Network within Delaware and nationally.

As a result of his commitment, he has received at least 17 awards and honors. Jim contributed to the founding of Delaware Coast Day over 40 years ago. That event at the College of Marine Studies/College of Earth, Ocean and Environment has increased ocean literacy about research and education activities in thousands of participants. The event has been appropriated by many state Sea Grant Programs and has been presented with numerous state and national awards.


Lisa B. Himber

 

Lisa B. Himber is being honored for her life-long career promoting maritime business on the Delaware River and Bay. By her talent and effort, Lisa Himber rose to increasingly responsible positions when few female managers existed in the port industry. Currently, Vice President of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, a nonprofit trade association representing port business and organizations in the tri-state region, she has been able to effect lasting policy changes at both the local and national levels. Lisa successfully implemented a regional automation system designed to quickly clear cargo with U.S. Customs at a time when most port business had not yet embraced computer technology. She co-led an effort to improve processing of agricultural products through regional ports which resulted in a new national USDA policy in 2016.

Ms. Himber was appointed by the U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security to the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee in 2005, served as its Chair and in other leadership positions until her term expired in December of 2015 and then became a member of the Sector Delaware Bay Area Maritime Security Committee Managing Board. Lisa has served as president of the Seamen’s Center of Wilmington Board since 2017, sits on the Ports of Philadelphia Maritime Society Board, and holds leadership positions within the National Association of Maritime Organizations (NAMO) and Maritime Information Services of North America (MISNA). She is also a founding member of the Delaware Bay Chapter of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association.


Michael J. Morgan

 

Michael J. Morgan is being honored for his career as a teacher, writer and speaker who has raised public awareness of Delaware’s rich maritime history. No one has done more to convey the maritime heritage of coastal Delaware than Mike. For 45 years, his over 2500 weekly newspaper columns and many longer magazine articles have been read by residents and visitors alike, raising their awareness of the rich maritime heritage of the area. In addition to articles on notable people and events, he has written about shipwrecks, military vessels, the shipping industry, seagoing bootleggers and more. His articles are thoroughly researched and illustrated with archival images, and stand as a valuable body of work that chronicles the area’s maritime history.

His nine books are written in popular style, yet researched in academic depth and accuracy. They have conveyed the history of the area to a wider audience. His talks are regularly scheduled by all the local historical organizations and are overwhelmingly popular and well-attended by those wishing to know more about their local history.

Mike’s service with the maritime historical community extends beyond the Delaware coastal area. During his 32 year career as a secondary school teacher he conducted research related to the historic frigate Constellation. That work has been adopted by the Navy Heritage and History Command and the Smithsonian Institution. He served as an interpretive guide at Fort McHenry. For his service with youth education programs, in 2014 Michael Morgan was awarded Disney's prestigious "Partners in Excellence Award."


Leland C. Jennings, Jr.

 

Leland C. Jennings, Jr. is being honored for his efforts to save and improve the Delaware Bay maritime defense forts—Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island and Fort Miles on Cape Henlopen. As the first Chief Historian of Delaware State Parks, Lee focused the funds and staff to save the forts from gradual neglect. He helped establish and worked with the two volunteer groups at the forts—The Fort Delaware Society and the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA) —to supply the necessary volunteer labor to do the “heavy lifting” work required to bring both forts back to a state where public tours could take place both inside and outside their facilities.

Lee remained as the state liaison between the two volunteer organizations and made sure that the state and the two organizations shared common goals and efforts. He developed and implemented the necessary Memoranda of Understanding between the two groups and the state. As progress was made, Lee spent much time designing and implementing interesting programing for both facilities.

He worked with FMHA to get Fort Miles on the National Register of Historic Places. Leland Jennings was recognized in 2008 by the Governor of Delaware with the Roy Klein Hall of Fame Award at the Governor’s Tourism Summit on April 17, 2008. He was selected for his role in the preservation and interpretation of both Fort Delaware and Fort Miles which helped contribute to the over 8 million tourists visiting the state.

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