Henry W. Hotchkiss


Henry Washington Hotchkiss of Fairhaven died in Fairhaven on August 2 after a long illness.

He was born in 1937 in Meshed, Iran, to his American parents, Henry Hotchkiss, a working geologist in the oilfields of the Middle East, and Mary Bell Clark Hotchkiss, a resident of Martha’s Vineyard from early childhood. Her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had been coming to the Vineyard since the 1890s.

Henry spent the war years on the Island in Vineyard Haven and North Tisbury. After the war, he attended the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon. He graduated from Gordonstoun in Scotland in 1954; and from Bowdoin College in 1958, where he majored in economics, joined the Delta Sigma fraternity, and was secretary of the Caledonian Society.

His first banking experience was with the Martha’s Vineyard National Bank under Stephen Cary Luce. For one summer he was a lifeguard at Menemsha Beach. After college graduation, he served as a captain in the Army reserve’s military intelligence; and taught French for four years at the Choate School in Wallingford, Conn.

Then he became an international banker under the aegis of Harold Helm of Chilmark. He was posted to Paris and Geneva. He was also associated with Credit Suisse. He became Vice-President of the Chemical Bank International in San Francisco and lived in an old house on Nob Hill. In 1985, while on leave from that bank, Henry sailed his 25-foot Folkboat, White Lightning, to Tahiti, Tonga, and New Zealand. He wrote and published interesting accounts of this extended voyage.

After his retirement as a banker, he became a realtor in Fairhaven with Dan Mello, co-founding in 2003 the firm of Mello and Hotchkiss. Henry served on the board of regents of several hospitals, and he was a member and officer in several yacht clubs, including the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, the St. Francis Yacht Club, the Golden Gates Anglers and the International Folkboat Association in San Francisco.

He belonged to the Explorers Club and the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1998 he was chair of the Joshua Slocum Centennial Committee of New Bedford. He served as President of the Board of the Gordonstoun American Foundation and as its investment chair. He was a strong contributor to Bowdoin College funds.

As a young man, he was a collector and driver of sports cars. He was a talented and entertaining host, singer and pianist, and he had a great gift for making and keeping close friends, inspiring their respect and affection. Many of these friends gave him a spectacular 70th birthday party in Fairhaven. He gave generously of his time and energy for the welfare of others. As the eldest child, he took seriously and performed well in the role of family mentor, guide, and administrator.

Henry is survived by his former wife, Lee Revere of West Tisbury, his brother and sister-in-law, Frederick and Anita Hotchkiss of Vineyard Haven, his sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Robert Ganz of Chilmark, his nieces and nephews, Emily Coggins of Vineyard Haven, Claire Ganz of Chilmark, Grace Scarano of Olney, Md., Jennie Ganz of Chevy Chase, Md., Robert Ganz III of Washington, D.C., Holly Ganz of Oakland, Calif., and nine grandnieces and grandnephews.

A service or services will be announced in the near future.