Louis J. 'Lou' LoBianco, well-known port figure, dies at 68

Cargo expert had been with the Maryland Port Administration from 1977 until his retirement two years ago

December 09, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Louis J. "Lou" LoBianco, a highly acclaimed expert in the application of roll-on/roll-off cargo technology for the port of Baltimore, died Dec. 1 of cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

The longtime Towson resident — who had lived in Mays Chapel since last year — was 68.

"Lou was one of the main reasons why the port of Baltimore is known today as the top roll-on/roll-off [ro/ro] port in the U.S.," said James J. White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.

"He had an extraordinary understanding and knowledge of the ro/ro industry and knew exactly what it took to convince ro/ro manufacturers to ship their cargo through Baltimore," said Mr. White.

"Lou had a great disposition and was extremely professional. He loved working at the port of Baltimore, and that was evident to anyone who knew him," said Mr. White. "He will be missed."

"Lou was highy respected throughout the shipping community here and elsewhere. He always spoke factually," said Helen Delich Bentley, a former congresswoman and chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission, who was a longtime friend. "He really knew the history of the port and was a nice and highly loved guy."

Louis John LoBianco, the son of a trucking company owner and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton.

He was a 1960 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and, while working at Food Fair as a cashier and stockboy, he attended the University of Baltimore at night, where he earned a certificate in traffic management and a bachelor's degree in transportation.

After serving in the Navy for two years and for six years in the Naval Reserve, Mr. LoBianco began his professional career in 1966, when he went to work for the old Western Maryland Railway at its Port Covington Terminal.

He later was promoted to assistant manager for foreign commerce, a position he held until 1974.

That year, he was appointed sales manager for Penn-Maryland Steamship Corp. and Terminal Shipping Co., where he remained until 1977, when he was named regional manager of the Maryland Port Administration's Baltimore Trade Development Office.

Mr. LoBianco's responsibilities in that position included trade solicitation and serving the needs of shippers in the Baltimore area. In 1984, he was appointed deputy director of port sales and marketing.

From 1988 until his retirement in 2008, Mr. LoBianco had been manager of breakbulk, bulk and roll-on/roll-off cargo sales in the MPA's marketing division.

At the 96th annual dinner of the Traffic Club of Baltimore last year, Mr. LoBianco was named the organization's person of the year, and was described as the "catalyst for Baltimore's success in breakbulk and roll-on/roll-off cargo."

Cynthia M. "Cindy" Burman, trade development manager for the Maryland Port Administration, has known and worked with Mr. LoBianco, whom she described as a "mentor," for 30 years.

"I first knew Lou before I came to MPA, when I was working for a steamship agency. He was a gentleman's gentleman and taught me a lot about the business and the port of Baltimore," said Ms. Burman.

"He ate, drank and slept the Port of Baltimore. His wife told me at the viewing that she never had to worry about him being with another woman because that woman was the port of Baltimore," said Ms. Burman.

"He specialized in roll-on/roll-off. He was always interested in growing the port, business and customers. He was a man who was always available," she said.

Ms. Burman said when Mr. LoBianco retired, he was designated a maritime icon by the MPA because "people knew him from all over the world."

In addition to developing and expanding the port's roll-on/roll-off business, Mr. LoBianco was the "driving force behind our Ro/Ro Rodeo," said Mr. White.

"This allows newly hired longshore workers to learn how to drive huge pieces of farm and construction equipment on and off ships. Baltimore is the only port to have this event," he said.

"My father was a hardworking businessman who believed in routine and following the rules. He was a very kind person and was always ready to help," wrote a son, Anthony J. LoBianco, in a eulogy.

"He was a very kind person and always ready to help. He had a solution to every problem and had his ways of making things simple. He was a very generous man, rarely asking anyone for help and would be modest in acknowledging anything he did," said Anthony LoBianco, who lives in Eldersburg.

In addition to the Traffic Club of Baltimore, Mr. LoBianco was a member of the Propeller Club of Baltimore, Maryland Coal Association, Delmarva Traffic Club, Hagerstown Traffic Club, York Traffic Club and the Delta Nu Alpha Transportation Fraternity.

He was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing at Willow Springs Golf Course in West Friendship.

"My husband was a plain man who loved his family and loved the port," said Mrs. LoBianco.

Mr. LoBianco was a communicant of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Cockeysville, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Tuesaday.

In addition to his son, surviving are his wife of 42 years, the former Fran Anuszewski; another son, Matthew J. LoBianco of Towson; and a brother, Charles LoBianco of Towson.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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