Aaron W. Hendry, president of the Hendry Corporation, Tampa, Fla., died at home Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Hendry, 80, leaves behind his wife Barbara, six children, and three grandchildren.

“Aaron Hendry was a wonderful businessman, and a giant in the maritime industry,” said Dennis Manelli, ‎general counsel and chief financial officer at Hendry Marine. “He grew up in the maritime community and had great empathy and loyalty to his employees. He treated them like family – and appreciated the hard, dangerous work they performed every day.”

Hendry’s father, Capt. F.M. Hendry, started the family business more than 90 years ago to provide oyster shells for roads and other construction projects. Over the decades, the company grew dramatically as the dredging fleet expanded and additional maritime services were performed to meet the demand for seaport and coastal development.

A fourth-generation Floridian, Aaron Hendry started his career with the company in 1952 as a deckhand. He worked his way up through the ranks as a boatman, foreman, mate and leverman. Knowing education was essential to the success of the family business, Hendry earned a degree in civil engineering degree from Georgia Tech, an MBA from the University of Tampa, and also graduated from the Harvard Business School’s prestigious business owners program.

Hendry leaves behind businesses that are among the oldest and most recognizable in the Tampa Bay area:  Hendry Marine Industries, a holding company for Hendry Corp., celebrating its 90th anniversary this year; Gulf Marine Repair, a leading ship repair company in the Southeast; Universal Environmental Solutions, which provides marine environmental services; and Port Hendry Terminals, a stevedoring and terminal operations company.

During the past several years, Aaron Hendry began a leadership transition at Hendry Marine. He hired a new chief executive officer for the company, Jim Long, who has been with Hendry Marine since January.

“The positive impact that Aaron leaves behind can hardly be put into words,” said Long. “He will be missed each and every day.  It’s an honor for me to play a part in continuing to build this great organization that Aaron led so well for so many years.”

“I will be forever grateful to Mr. Hendry for his mentoring and molding of me, and for his trust in me to run Gulf Marine Repair these last 15 years,” said Rick Watts, president of Gulf Marine Repair.  “It was a pleasure to have worked for him and with him.  I look forward to continuing his legacy.”

Donations can be made to either of the following charities, both of which were favorites of Aaron Hendry’s:

The American Victory Ship Mariners Memorial Museum, 705 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602, (813) 228-8766

Tampa Port Ministries, Inc., 1309 Shoreline Ave., Tampa, FL 33605, (813) 247-5237

Funeral arrangements are pending. Flowers can be sent to Blount & Curry Funeral Home, 605 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33609.


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.