Professor Marc Hershman's list of accomplishments is remarkable: He founded a local maritime museum; launched and then edited a journal...

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Professor Marc Hershman’s list of accomplishments is remarkable: He founded a local maritime museum; launched and then edited a journal for 35 years; and served a decade as director of the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs.

He was so highly regarded in his field that President Bush invited him in 2001 to serve three years on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

But those who knew him say Mr. Hershman remained humble. If asked what he did for a living, he might mention he was a UW professor. And when his worsening bladder cancer forced him into a hospital bed this winter, he would invariably turn the conversation to what was going on in the lives of his visitors.

Mr. Hershman died last Sunday. He was 65.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the museum he founded — the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center on Pier 66, at 2205 Alaskan Way.

One of his final acts — on Valentine’s Day — was to renew his vows to his wife of 43 years, Carol, in front of about 10 family members and friends. Daughter Carla Hershman said her parents had met in college and married soon after graduating.

“They were saving pennies, so my dad couldn’t afford a fancy ring,” Carla Hershman said. “He always had the idea that he would buy a proper ring for my mother.”

So, this month, Mr. Hershman was able to present his wife with a gold band with a silver overlay, crafted to resemble the waves of the ocean he loved.

Mr. Hershman grew up in Philadelphia. He attended the Columbus Boychoir School and toured the country singing. Students traveled in two buses: one with a shortened piano for practice; the other with pullout tables for study. He developed a lifelong love for classical music.

He also enjoyed sailing in his family’s boats and by high school had become active in the Sea Scouts. As a student at Temple University, he led boat trips up and down the East Coast.

At Temple, he became a campus audio technician. He met Carol at the back of art class, where she would sit because she was so shy. He got his law degree at Temple and practiced divorce law for about two months, Carla Hershman said, before realizing it was not the career for him.

He took a job at Louisiana State University, where he and several other professors wrote a book on coastal management. At about age 29, he founded the Coastal Management Journal, which he continued to edit until just a few months ago.

In 1976, Mr. Hershman took a job with the UW. Tom Leschine, director of the UW School of Marine Affairs and a 20-year colleague, said Mr. Hershman was vital in turning coastal management into an academic field of study.

“He was very patient,” Leschine said. “He was the best person with students, because he understood how they struggled to learn. He had a knack for working with them that much harder when they needed it.”

One of his students, Trina Wellman, now an environmental consultant, said Mr. Hershman was kind and inspiring. She was particularly impressed by his success with the museum, and went on to serve on the board herself.

Leschine said Mr. Hershman loved watching the hydro races from his Mount Baker home and would jokingly complain as neighborhood trees began growing and obscuring his views. He also built a vacation home on Decatur Island, where he loved to walk his dog along the water’s edge.

Leschine said Mr. Hershman became fascinated by the debate over the Port of Seattle’s role and the problems the Port had connecting with the community. He founded the museum in 1998 to help strengthen that connection and to encourage people to experience life on the bridge of a ship or crabbing in the Bering Sea, Leschine said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Hershman is survived by his son, Jordan Hershman, of Seattle; and sister Susan Paroly, of Boca Raton, Fla.

Gifts can be made to the Marc J. Hershman Endowment for Marine Affairs at www.sma.washington.edu.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com