Herman Stevens was born on May 30, 1920 in Cambridge, Maryland, the son of Herman and
Edna Jackson Stevens. He was the loving husband of Nettie Belle Stevens for 80 years, and
father to Ray Stevens and Kaye Stevens Thomas, grandfather to five children and great
grandfather to six. Mr. Stevens was a pillar of the community in Cambridge and the Eastern
Shore of Maryland throughout his life.
Following graduation from Cambridge High School in 1937, Mr. Stevens worked as a truck
driver for two years. In 1939, he began working as assistant manager at the Arcade Theater in
Cambridge. At that time there were two theaters in Cambridge owned by Schine Chain Theaters
of Gloversville, New York: the Arcade and the State. He held that position until 1942 when he
enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard and was assigned to the Coast Guard office of Identification
and Intelligence at the Captain of the Port's office in Baltimore. He was honorably discharged in
October, 1945 after a 3 year service.
Returning to Cambridge, Mr. Stevens resumed managing both the Arcade and the State
theaters until 1949. At that time, he was offered a position as advertising manager of the
Cambridge Daily Banner, by then-publisher Arnold Daane. This was the beginning of a long
career, from Business Manager to General Manager and eventually co-owner. With Mr. Daane’s
death in 1967, he purchased a half interest in the Banner Corporation and served as Vice
President, with Mrs. Daane acting as silent partner. In 1972, they sold the Banner to the
Evening Post and Courier Corporation in Charleston, South Carolina. After that, Mr. Stevens
remained as President and Publisher until his retirement in 1983.
Shortly after retiring from the newspaper, Mr. Stevens with three partners began publishing a
weekly newspaper on Kent Island called”The Chesapeake Courier". The newspaper failed to
attract sufficient advertisers and closed down after one year of operation.
Mr. Stevens served on the Board of Directors at Maryland National Bank and later on the Board
at Baltimore Federal Savings and Loan Bank.
In 1999 Mr. Stevens, together with several investors, applied for a state charter to form a local
bank. The charter was granted and the Bank of the Eastern Shore was formed, opening on
Crusader Road in Cambridge. Mr. Stevens was elected President of the Board of Directors.
Three months later a branch bank was opened on Leonard Lane. The banks were successful
and succeeded in garnering half of the banking business in Dorchester County.
After thirteen years of a highly successful banking operation, the federal government closed the
bank down along with a number of other banks, citing newly-issued federal guidelines which
required the bank to maintain higher capital. The closure of the bank was roundly criticized by
Mr. Stevens who insisted the closure was politically motivated and no banking depositor was
ever in danger of losing money.
Community and Philanthropy
During his career, Mr. Stevens served the community in many capacities. Early on, he was
president of the Exchange Club and a member of the Cambridge-Dorchester Hospital Board of
Directors. In 1948, he was president of the St. Paul’s Church Richardson Men’s Bible Class and
remained a member until his death.
In 1958, he was elected President of the Cambridge-Dorchester Chamber of Commerce. During
his tenure, he formed the Dorchester Industrial Development Committee with local businessmen
Robert Davis, F. Phillips Williamson, and Donald Holdt. The four men became known as the
Four Horsemen. When the town's largest employer, Phillips Packing Co. closed, the county's
unemployment rate rose to 22 percent. The Four Horsemen began an intensive campaign to
seek new companies to replace the lost jobs. Over a four year period, they were ultimately
successful bringing more than 22 new manufacturing companies to the county, among them
Chun King, Connelly Containers of Philadelphia, Icelandic Seafoods, Western Publishing and
Bumble Bee Tuna Corp.
As a result of Bumble Bee and Icelandic's operations, the Cambridge Port became active with
ships bringing in frozen fish. That created a need for stevedores to unload those ships.
As part of their industrial program, the Four Horsemen organized a stevedoring company called
"CargoHandlers" employing many of the county's watermen.
In 1960, the Cambridge City Council formed a committee whose purpose was to develop the
Cambridge Creek area as a tourist attraction. A number of Cambridge businessmen were
named to the group. Mr. Stevens was appointed Chairman. The committee consulted frequently
with an internationally known developer, James Rouse, and eventually hired the American
Cities Corp. to assist in the waterfront development plan. Although the original plan was to
target tourism, it soon developed into the building of a series of condominiums. First to
recognize the program's potential was Cambridge contractor, Lee Browhawn, who built the first
waterfront project known as Cambridge Landing. This led to the construction of more
condominium units along the waterfront.
In 1970, he served as Chairman of the Dorchester United Fund. Following that, he worked for
the city of Salisbury as Redevelopment Coordinator and Aide to Mayor Paul Martin. During his
time in Salisbury, he was appointed a member of the Ward Museum Board of Directors.
In 1972, he was named by Governor Marvin Mandel to a two-year term on the Citizens Advisory
Board at the Deers Head Hospital in Salisbury. In June of that same year, he obtained his
private pilot’s license and ignited a lifelong passion for flying. He logged more than 2,000 hours
until he stopped flying in 2006. During that period he owned three different airplanes.
In 1974, the state of Maryland formed an Economic Development Department and he was
appointed a member of the department, a position he held for three years.
In 1979, Mr. Stevens became Chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board. During his term
it was agreed-upon that a new headquarters would be built. He persuaded Lee Brown, a
prominent building contractor, to head up a campaign to raise money for construction of the new
building. The new headquarters was erected on Washington Street where it stands today. As a
result, Mr. Stevens was awarded a certificate of life membership in the Army, which he regarded
as his highest honor, although he often said the award should have gone to Lee Browhawn.
In 1975 Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel appointed him to the Judicial Selection Commission
for the First Judicial Circuit. He was reappointed by Governor Harry Hughes and later
reappointed by Governor William Donald Schaefer, serving three consecutive terms.
Most recently, he was chosen as a member of the board of directors of the Waddell Foundation,
a philanthropic organization formed upon the death of Cambridge resident, Miss Nannie
Waddell. He remained on that board for 13 years, resigning that post in 2015.
A private graveside will be held on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 12pm at Dorchester Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Coastal Hospice Foundation, P.O. Box 1733, Salisbury, MD 21802. Arrangements are in the care of the Thomas Funeral Home, P.A. in Cambridge.
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