While Aaron Hendry’s business involvement is well-known to those in the maritime industry, he also leaves behind a loving family, as well as a tremendous legacy of community service.
Aaron was born in Tampa on January 12, 1936, one of three sons of Martha Crowder Hendry and Captain F.M. Hendry.
Even though Florida’s total population in the 1930’s was well below 2-million people, Aaron was already a fourth-generation Floridian, destined to work in the dredging and marine construction business. Aaron’s father F.M. Hendry was a notable and colorful captain of the Merchant Marines, who transported oil for the Allies during World War I. When Captain Hendry returned to Florida after the war, he founded Shell Producers dredging company, which ultimately became Hendry Marine.
Aaron’s grandfather was also a prominent Floridian. F.A. Hendry was a civic leader in southwest Florida, known as the “Father of Ft. Myers”. Hendry County – just east of Lee County – is named for him.
Aaron started his career at Hendry Corporation as a teenager 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, Aaron earned a 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.
At the University of Tampa, Aaron Hendry created an endowed scholarship for MBA students who are veterans or the children of veterans. He also created an endowed scholarship at Georgia Tech.
Aaron and his wife Barbara were married in 1979 and raised six children: Aaron, David, Martha, Franklin, James and Alexis. They also have three grandchildren: Anthony, Samantha and Brittany.
In addition to his commitment to his family, company and employees, Aaron was dedicated to his community. Notable philanthropic projects include:
- Building Palma Ceia Little League (literally operating the bulldozer himself)
- Donating the lights for the Robinson High School football field
- Donating the concession stand for the University of Tampa baseball field
- Supporting the STEPS program, Junior Achievement and the Sea Scouts
- Serving as president of the Propeller Club – being named member of the year in 1999 and receiving the Propeller Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award (only the second one ever given out)
- Serving on the board of the Port of Tampa Maritime Industries Association, providing significant financial support
But one of Aaron’s favorite projects was the American Victory Ship, which is docked in the Channelside District in downtown Tampa. The ship served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam before arriving in Tampa as a museum. Before his passing, Aaron requested donations be sent to one of the two following charities:
The American Victory Ship Mariners Memorial Museum, 705 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602.
Tampa Port Ministries, Inc., 1309 Shoreline Ave., Tampa, FL 33605.