Henry Dewitt

December 14, 2009
Henry Dewitt served as commissioner in Rehoboth for three-and-a-half years before resigning to move to Henlopen Acres full time. NONE RYAN MAVITY PHOTO
To say Henlopen Acres resident Henry Dewitt is a world traveler would be a massive understatement.

A former Rehoboth Beach commissioner, Dewitt said, “I’m really from all over. Connecticut, Florida, California, Baltimore and then Delaware.”

Besides living all over the United States, Dewitt’s work has taken him to some of the most remote places on Earth.

“I write software for NASA. In fact, I just came back from Spitsbergen, islands north of Norway, where the sun was not up the whole time I was there. And it was cold. I have a software package to control a satellite ground station, and NASA and others are installing it throughout the world. So I get to go to very bizarre locations.”

Several years ago, his travels took him to Antarctica.

Dewitt said, “There it was cold, but the sun was up 24 hours a day. The temperatures the first year tended to be around 34 to 36 degrees. The second year I was there they tended to be around 28 and it was overcast. Having 24 hours of sunlight is a little distracting; 24 hours of darkness I found more distracting because you never really know. You wake up wondering, ‘What the hell time is it?’”

He said ground stations are located near the poles because from there, the satellite can be seen more often.

A graduate of California Institute of Technology and UCLA with a degree in computer science, Dewitt got involved with NASA after being hired to do a job in the early 1990s. He’s been steadily growing his business, Dewitt and Associates, ever since.

Aside from an unusual job, Dewitt also has an unusual hobby – playing the bagpipes. His playing usually opens the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market during the summer.

“I had a bad medical year in 1998. I jokingly say those were the second, third and fourth hospitalizations of my life – the first was when I was born. I had really stopped music,” he said. “After some medical events, I decided it was time to get back to it. First was to pick up guitar. I’m not totally sure how the bagpipes came about except they are a fairly commanding instrument. I actually joined a band in Baltimore, took lessons from them for three or four years before we moved down here full time, and continued to practice.”

He practices the instrument by walking the beach for about an hour from the Henlopen Acres Beach Club to the Henlopen Hotel.

“It annoys fewer people,” Dewitt said of his walking practice.

Dewitt is also a former champion swimmer, a hobby he still continues to this day at the Sussex County YMCA. He swam national competitions in college, and swam at master’s level off and on for years.

“People don’t realize swimming is very hard on your body,” he said.

Dewitt and his wife, Marcia, have been coming to coastal Delaware since the early 1980s and bought a house in Rehoboth in 1987. He served as commissioner in Rehoboth for three-and-a-half years before resigning to move to Henlopen Acres full time. Dewitt ran for commissioner in Henlopen Acres in 2006 and 2007 and is still a fixture at town meetings.

“I just really enjoy the location, love the town and want to make it the best it can be. I think there’s a lot of things we can do yet, and we’ll work to get there,” he said.

Dewitt said work has prevented him from running the last two years and will likely keep him from doing so in the near future. “Next year, if all the business that’s planned comes to pass, I’m probably out of the country two months of the year. Going back to Spitsbergen,” he said.

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