Morton Phillip Silberman (1916-2014)


Morton Phillip Silberman of San Rafael, Calif., passed away on March 14, 2014. Mort was born on July 21, 1916 in San Francisco to Philip Silberman, DOD Oct. 17, 1918, and Gertrude Silberman, DOD July 18, 1969.  He was married to the late Frances Tema Silberman, who passed away Nov. 3, 2008. They are survived by Mort’s stepson, Carl Silberman of New Mexico, their daughter, Roseanne E. Lord of Placerville (whose husband David Lord passed away Dec. 9, 2000), and their son, Phillip Silberman of Redwood City. Mort is also survived by his sister-in-law, Gertrude (Goldie) Edwards of  Vancouver, B.C., who is 103 years of age, and her daughter,  Blossom;  his niece, Ellen Lauer of Maryland, the daughter of Janice Harriet Silberman, Mort’s older sister, DOD June 2, 2000; and a grandson,  Levi Silberman of  Portland, Ore.

Mort served in the military in the US Army in World War II.  He received his basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, before arriving in San Francisco awaiting assignment for overseas combat. Because of his knowledge of ropes and work in a shipyard, he was transferred to Air-Sea Rescue for the crash boats and received his initial training on the boats in Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, and then transferred to the east coast. He was a Private First Class for seven months.  After 1.5 years he became a Chief Warrant Officer, the highest non-commissioned officer. He was stationed in Seattle and then returned to San Francisco, patrolling the coast from San Francisco to Monterey, and also off the coast of Los Angeles, for submarines.

Mort had a long, successful career as a marine consultant. He began his career working at Moore Dry-Dock in Oakland, which became Schnitzer Steel Company, and then he worked at Bethlehem Steel. He worked for Seymour Waterman, Arnold Malley and Ben Berman at B&B Steel and Supply Co. in Redwood City, and briefly with Norman Johnson in Ukiah. Mort did business with Ed Dutra, and, in 1974, Ed introduced Mort to Bill Dutra, and they began a lasting business partnership and friendship. Mort consulted with The Dutra Group in building, assessing, purchasing and managing its marine fleet. He helped The Dutra Group complete the purchase of the Smith Rice Company and the purchase of the San Rafael Rock Quarry from The Dillingham Company.

Mort was instrumental in building the barges “Aimi” and “Denise” in Portland, Oregon, and the tugs “Sarah Reed” and “Harry B” in the gulf. Needing to transport the “Harry B,” it was cut in half and shipped to Salt Lake, and welded back together – Mort was so happy when it all came together and worked that he jumped in the lake! He assisted in the building of the derrick barge “Paula Lee” and the excavators “Hercules” and “Antone” at Bollinger. He assisted in acquiring the “Robert Johnson” and the “Jeannette C” and the “Patty Dutra.”  He also helped design and build the 5000 series scows. They were the MS5 (Mort Silberman 5), JD6, CK7, BR8 and WF9 constructed by Gunderson and Greenbrier. He also assisted in securing the purchase, dry docking and updating of the dredge Columbia and the dredge Stuyvesant.
Mort traveled extensively and enjoyed a rich life of friends and associates. His passion for his work kept him actively engaged with the day to day business at The Dutra Group until very recently. He was a mentor to many people and helped shape careers. He loved life, people, food and wine, sports and business. He believed his success in reaching the age of 97 was from his positive thinking. He was a friend to all and loved hearing about everyone’s family, life and adventures. Mort was deeply loved and will be dearly missed.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, July 21, 2014 at 11:00 am at Jason’s Restaurant, 300 Drakes Landing, Greenbrae, California on what would have been Mort’s 98th birthday.  In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make contributions may make a donation in Mort’s memory to a favorite charity. For further information, contact The Dutra Group at 415-258-6876.

By Professional Mariner Staff