Interview 13: Gary Pensell

Interviews, Local Residents


Gary and Barbara Pensell

b: 9/26/1941

Interviewed: 9/8/2016

Note: photo taken from Gary’s fb page.

Most of us know him as the owner of Tidewater Marina (well … before his son Garrett took the helm).

The interview reveals more – as do all of our interviews. Gary loved boats from a young age. Listen to him mention the oarlocks his grandfather put in the front steps of the house so Gary could “row for miles.” (around 4:04) He shares a bit about family, jobs as a kid, school, buying his first car, helping his dad build Tidewater Marina, and later, buying it from him.

You’ll hear Barbara add some thoughts and notice how much of a team they really are. Creative, hardworking, entrepreneurial business folks, and real assets to our community.

You can learn more about the property at 100 Bourbon Street from Marita O’Connell’s Historic Havre de Grace website.

Went to school in Havre de Grace through the ninth grade. Then I went to school in Baltimore, McDonough – military school. I had a lot of friends, a group of us – Ernie Moretti, Eli (Silverstein). Those were the days when you left the house after breakfast and if you wanted lunch you came back … you had to be back for dinner. After dinner we’d go out and the railroad cut was there, Ernie Moretti lived next to it, we’d play kick the can and just kids games. Boats were always an underlying part of my life.

My father had Friendly Oil Company – that’s where Tidewater Grille is now – fuel oil. He owned that property. He moved out on the highway and it became Phillips 66. It’s now Arrow Oil or something like that. He was on that dock and always had boats.

He was in the Navy during WWII. He got sent way far away for his duties – he was assigned to Bainbridge. (I’ll bet he loved that!) He taught seamanship – he taught seamanship teachers! They had a boat dock down on the water. Right before the end of the war, he was going to be shipped out. Got as far as California coast, and got sent back. So he essentially spent his service at Bainbridge.

But he always had boats and they were tied down there at that wharf. For many years, I don’t remember what age I was, but I wasn’t allowed to untie the boat. But I had real long ropes. So I’d row that thing back and forth. Then, eventually, when I got older, I was allowed to untie the boat but I had to stay in the cove (where the seaplane dock is now), but I wasn’t allowed to go past the point at the end of Green St. The water was deeper in there then. My horizons kept growing.

from interview with Gary & Barbara Pensell

Look what I found – a 1981 interview with Gary Pensell and David Wells, a well-known local artist on Focus Delaware!

Each Wednesday we try to share one of the many interviews Ellie has collected. Enjoy!

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