Past Delaware Governor

" As a Note : "

I knew Sherman my entire life and resided only a few houses away from him.   At his request I started working on his campaign for Governor in two ways :   First by driving him to and from many of his campaign speeches throughout Delaware ..... and Secondly by creating a group called " Youth For Tribbitt ", which was my idea, and we raised enough money to actually pay for two billboards .....

      " Sherman Willard Tribbitt " was born in Denton, Maryland on November 9, 1922, the son of Sherman L. Tribbitt and Minnie Thawley Tribbitt.

      " Sherman's " father, Sherman L. Tribbitt, was employed in both Real Estate and Insurance and was Chairman of the Caroline County Republican Central Committee.   Minnie, " Sherman's " mother, was a registered and strong believer in the Democratic Party.

      Politics fascinated " Sherman " while growing up due to his parent's " opposite " political beliefs.   His fascination was further increased when " President Franklin Roosevelt " visited his hometown of Denton, Maryland in 1938.

      When he graduated from Caroline High School, he went to Wilmington, Delaware and took a two year course in accounting at Beacom College, (Goldey Beacom College Today) which he completed in 1941.

      After completion of his studies, he was employed by the Security Trust Company in Wilmington for a short time.

      In December 1942, due to World War II, " Sherman " joined the U.S. Navy and served throughout the entire war.

      In early 1945 he was aboard the destroyer " U.S.S. Frost " in the North Atlantic when his unit received a Presidential Citation for sinking five U-Boats.

      In 1943, while still in the service, " Sherman " married " Jeanne Webb " of Middletown, Delaware, who he had met on a blind date while working at the Security Trust Company in Wilmington.

      After serving his country, " Sherman " returned home and, along with his father-in-law E. Sherman Webb, opened the Odessa Supply Company in Odessa, Delaware.   This business served the Odessa area as a hardware supply store.

      " Sherman's " political fascination was further sparked by his father-in-law who had previously served the State of Delaware in the General Assembly as a State Representative.

      In 1956 " Sherman " ran for the office of State Representative for the first time and won.   He was re-elected as a Representative in 1958, 1960, and 1962.   From 1958 through 1964 he served as the Speaker of the House.

      In 1964 the Democratic Party of the State nominated " Tribbitt " to run for the office of Lieutenant-Governor with gubernatorial candidate " Charles Layman Terry, Jr..   Charles Terry defeated " David Penrose Buckson" for the Governor's seat and " Sherman " defeated William T. Best for the Lt. Governor's spot.

      Governor Terry's term was not known as an easy time in American History.  The Vietnam War droned on and Civil Rights demonstrations were being staged nationwide.  When coming up for re-election in 1968 Charles Terry lost to " Russell W. Peterson " and " Sherman " lost to Eugene Bookhammer.

      After sitting out for two years " Tribbitt " again ran for the office of State Representative in 1970 against William David and won.  " Tribbitt " was named the Minority Leader by his peers in the State House.

      In 1972, the Democratic Party of the State nominated " Sherman W. Tribbitt " as their candidate for the office of Governor to run against incumbent Governor " Russell W. Peterson ".   Clifford Hearn was also nominated to run as Lieutenant Governor against Eugene Bookhammer.

      " Tribbitt " won with 51.2% of the vote (117,274) to Peterson's 47.9% (109,583).   Hearn, however, was defeated by Bookhammer.

      " Sherman W. Tribbitt " was inaugurated on January 16, 1973 as Delaware's 67th Governor.  " Governor Tribbitt " and his family moved into and resided full time at " Woodburn ", the Governor's House purchased during Governor Terry's administration.

      The " Tribbitt's " were the first Governor's family to reside in Woodburn on a full time basis.   During their four years in Woodburn " Mrs. Tribbitt " opened the house daily for tours and guided each tour " herself " with great pride.   She had a particular pride in decorating and sharing the home with those to whom it belonged, the citizens of Delaware.

      The wedding of their daughter " Carole " became the first wedding held in Woodburn since it became the Governor's official residence.

      The State House and Senate, during " Tribbitt's " first two years, were controlled by the Republican Party.   After the elections of 1974, however, the Democrats gained control of both the House and Senate.

      Perhaps " Tribbitt's " greatest triumph during his administration was saving the heavily state owned bank, Farmer's Bank, from financial collapse.

      In late 1975 the bank dropped the bombshell on " Tribbitt " that they had a loss of $22.5 million in bad loans.   If the bank folded, so could the state.

      " Gov. Tribbitt " and the leadership of the General Assembly fought on almost daily to keep the bank afloat.   It is during this fight that " Gov. Tribbitt " also faced his re-election to the Governor's office " which made it almost impossible to campaign ..... "

During " Tribbitt's " administration :

      A Freedom of Information Act ( Sunshine Law ) was passed .....

      A new program that would make public buildings accessible to the handicapped .....

      Tolls were taken off the I-95 ramp leading to Newark, Delaware .....

      The capital gains tax was reduced from 100% to 50% .....

      A new direct primary law for political parties was set up to replace the nominating conventions .....

      A new Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development was created to attract new industry to the state .....

      The Delaware State lottery was rejuvenated .....

      A cost of living (COLA) pay raise was built in for state employees ( later removed by the next administration ) .....

      " Gov. Tribbitt " vetoed a bill which would have raised the governor's salary to $50,000.00 .....

      In 1976 the Democratic Party again nominated " Tribbitt " to run for the office of Governor against " Pierre S. du pont, IV " of the Republican party.  James D. McGinnis was also nominated by the Democrats to run against Andrew Foltz for the office of Lieutenant Governor.

      " Pierre S. du pont, IV " won with 56.8% of the vote to " Tribbitt's " 42.4%.  James D. McGinnis, however, defeated Andrew Foltz for Lieutenant Governor.

      While " Gov. Sherman W. Tribbitt " literally worked during his entire term with " no vacation time off ", and " hardly a day out of the state unless it was on state business ".   He traveled incessantly from Delmar to Claymont to share good will and celebrate public events with Delaware's citizens.

      After leaving the office of Governor " Tribbitt " worked with the Delaware River Basin Commission and the Diamond Group consulting firm in Odessa, Delaware until he eventually retired to his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware .....

      " Sherman " and his wife Jeanne had three children, James, Carole, and Sherman "Tip" Tribbitt.  They resided in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

      On August 14, 2010 " Governor Sherman Willard Tribbitt " passed away in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware at the age of 87 ..... He was interred in the Old Drawyer's Cemetery in Odessa, Delaware.

    To view photo's
    and place of
     " Governor Tribbitt's "
       Burial :



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Russ Pickett
Last update: Sunday, August 15, 2010