Howard Carl Shenton, 84, chief of police marine division

November 06, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Howard Carl Shenton, retired chief of the marine division of the Maryland Natural Resources Police who was known for rescues in stormy Chesapeake Bay waters, died of cancer Oct. 30 at his Shady Side home. He was 84.

Born in Baltimore, he attended Southern High School briefly before moving to Shady Side, where he worked as a plumber's helper before serving as an ordnance officer with the Army Air Forces in the South Pacific during World War II.

He attained the rank of captain, partially because of an incident in the war. Family members said he disarmed a live bomb that accidentally came loose from a fighter plane as it was landing.

"He wouldn't order any of his men to disarm it; he did it himself," said a niece, Jacqueline Grace of Hampstead. "That's the kind of man he was."

In 1947, he became a patrol-boat mate in what was then the Department of Tidewater Fisheries and spent time enforcing seafood conservation laws. In March 1958, he was part of a team that rounded up 21 watermen who were charged with illegal oyster dredging off Point Lookout.

He was later promoted to supervisor of the Western Shore.

Known as "Cap'n Howard," he was named Marine Police Officer of the Year in 1967, an honor he received for rescuing two men and two women who were clutching seat cushions after their boat went down near the mouth of the Severn River on a stormy summer night in 1966.

Mr. Shenton told later how he had received a call from a Mayo Beach resident who could hear the offshore cries of stranded boaters. About 11 p.m., he and his wife decided to get in a boat and start searching.

After initially finding no sign of trouble, they heard a distant call, "God bless us."

Mr. Shenton later told a Sun reporter, "The wind was whipping it up out of the southeast and spray was coming over my boat so that I couldn't see anything even though I had the searchlight on." But he and his wife found and saved all four members of the boating party.

Mr. Shenton was a member of the Shady Side Kiwanis Club and active in Centenary United Methodist Church in Shady Side, where services were held Monday.

He is survived by his wife of more than 53 years, the former Glorious Andrews, a retired Anne Arundel County teacher; another niece; and a great-nephew.

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