On February 22nd, we lost a dear friend, colleague and sage counselor when Chris Hanges died peacefully in his sleep.
Chris’ Greek heritage and New York area childhood drew him to a maritime career as a young man. After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering from New York University and upon his completion of Army service in the computer branch he started his career in the marine industry as a ship agent.
Early on he decided to become a ship owner and through sheer courage, persistence and energy he secured the support and financing to purchase his first ship and eventually owned and operated a fleet of 43 ships.
During this period Chris lived the life of a true ship owner with all the accoutrements that were expected of Greek ship owners in the late sixties and early seventies. At that time Martin & Ottaway became acquainted with Chris when Harry Ottaway first provided him with claims presentation consulting services.
A few years later Chris’ success as a ship owner came crashing down into a financial collapse and he surrendered all his property in the bankruptcy including his home, his yacht and down to his car and went to Greece to wait for the storm to settle down.
In 1975, Chris returned to the United States and Harry Ottaway offered him a desk at the company offices.
Harry knew Chris as an extremely knowledgeable shipping man who was familiar with ship finance with all its warts and blemishes and who knew marine operations from beginning to end down to which builders built the ships that used the better steel and which brokers, shipyards and agents were honest and which were ready to skim whenever they could.
This knowledge fit in extremely well with the company’s mission of providing the highest quality consulting services across the entire spectrum of the maritime adventure and Chris became a valuable member of the company.
When joining the company, Chris began a second life as a consultant and rebuilt his life from scratch. During that period a very important part of his rebirth included his marriage to his wife Pat.
In particular, at the company, Chris took charge of the valuation department and trained all the present partners in the art and science of ship valuations.
All of us who worked with Chris felt that his incredibly wide life experience provided the nuance that is required to be an effective consultant and all of us always looked for him to provide us with the stories, cautions and encouragements that allow one to grow and gain the data and confidence that is required to make the best decisions.
Chris was at his best when asked a deeply philosophical question. This might be related to the shipping industry, but just as happily he would explain the difference between being very wealthy and scraping by from paycheck to paycheck.
Since I did not have the experience of being rich and felt free to ask him, his answer was, and remains, very valuable to me. Chris told me that being poor can be a distraction, but being rich can be even more distracting. There are only 24 hours in a day and in that time there is only so much extravagance you can engage in and very little is really going to make you feel better. But you can do good when you are poor and you can do good when you are rich. As long as you are doing good, you are doing good.
Most of all, to all of us, Chris was just a great guy to see in the office each morning. After racing all across the globe and returning to the office with piles of reports to write and issues to chase, we could always count on Chris’ good cheer and encouragement to give us the strength to face a new challenge each day.
From the seventies in the twentieth century, through the first decade of the twenty first century, Chris was our mentor and coach in the office and our touchstone to the romance and drama of shipping.
He will be sorely missed, but at the same time we know he rejoiced in the opportunity to pass on his love and knowledge of the maritime industry to all of us at the Company.
Our thoughts go out to his wife Pat and his family down to his great grandchildren, all of whom he loved deeply.