GOLF — Johan Erik Hvide died at home July 15, surrounded by loved ones. He was 71.
Born Sept. 5, 1948, in Glen Cove, New York, son of Hans Johan and Elsa Mosse Hvide, Mr. Hvide spent his life defying odds. He possessed the stubborn determination of a true Viking. He was diagnosed at age 7 with polio and his doctors said that he would not survive — but he did. His doctors said that he would never get out of an iron lung — but he did. His doctors said that he would never get out of a wheelchair — but he did, going on to become a varsity golfer for Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, where he graduated in 1965.
He went on to the University of Miami, where he was president of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and a member of ODK, the highest national leadership and scholastic fraternity. He graduated in 1970 with a BBA. He did continuing education through Harvard. But, as the Beach Boys sang, Mr. Hvide loved and was true to his (high) school for the rest of his life.
He married his sweetheart, Betsy Frances Schmidt, in the Chapel of Saint Andrew on May 29, 1971, and both of their sons, Leif-Erik and Johan Anders, were also graduates. He served on the board of trustees for 12 years, including as chairman. Under his leadership, the school began a new era, calling the Rev. George Andrews as the new headmaster, implementing a long-range master plan, and successfully launching its first capital campaign.
Mr. Hvide’s donations were responsible for the construction of the Saint Andrew’s Lower School, but true to his quiet modesty, he would not permit the facilities to be named in his honor.
Mr. Hvide was a consummate businessman who loved his work with absolute passion. He joined his father at Hvide Marine in 1970 and went on to become its president in 1981, CEO in 1991, and chairman in 1994. Under his leadership, the company grew from a small family tugboat operation into a global shipping company with offshore and harbor tugs, offshore supply vessels and chemical tankers. He led the company in an initial public offering in 1996, raising $1.5 billion in capital and growing the company from 23 vessels to one of the world’s leading providers of global marine support services with a fleet of 273 ships, 2,500 employees, operations in 20 countries and revenues of $400 million.
Hailed by Maritime Executive as an “unquestionably innovative, undoubtedly brilliant” leader in the maritime industry, Mr. Hvide invented the revolutionary Catug tanker and the SDM tugboat for which he held two patents in vessel design.
His accolades include induction into the International Maritime Hall of Fame, Master Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young, International Executive of the Year by the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, congressional appointee to the U.S. Coast Guard, council member of the American Bureau of Shipping, and member of various industry, corporate and bank boards.
Mr. Hvide also loved to serve his local and religious communities, having served for various parishes in South Florida as well as having lobbied the state of Florida to protect the natural tree corridor along A1A in Gulf Stream, and was made mayor for the day.
He was a member of the Gulf Stream Bath and Tennis, Lauderdale Yacht Club, Royal Palm Yacht & County Club, Country Club of Florida and Cat Cay Yacht Club, where he spent many years at his home, Manor House.
He is predeceased by his parents and sister Elsa. In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by grandchildren Magnus Johan, Hans Kristoffer and Hákon.
Mr. Hvide will be remembered as a giant among men, but his greatest accomplishments were not the ones that made the papers but rather the quiet ones he shared with friends and family.
To him we say: “For us you were a truly special husband, father, and friend and a shining example of how we should all lead our lives. We want to say thank you. Thank you for the many sacrifices you made, teaching us to put others first and that family is more important than anything. Thank you for teaching us the art of storytelling; you always had us hanging at your every word and we can only hope to be as captivating as you.
“Thank you for all of the incredible adventures; together we learned to appreciate the journey and the world around us. Thank you for teaching us the value of dedication and hard work; the standard you set is golden. Thank you for your determination and perseverance; you had the heart of a lion and we can only strive to be as brave as you. Thank you for teaching us to truly listen. You were always 110% in the moment, and there is nothing more powerful than to hear what others have to say.
“Thank you for your unflappable calmness in the face of adversity; you are the original ‘keep calm and carry on.’ Thank you for showing us that anything is possible if you put your mind to it; there is nothing more satisfying than defying the odds and the critics. Thank you for your kindness — you always had time for anyone and everyone. Thank you for teaching us faith, forgiveness and unconditional love; you are the perfect example of Christ’s teachings. You will be greatly missed and eternally loved.”
— Obituary submitted by the family