SSHSA Board of Directors


Don Leavitt, President, has a Bachelor's Degree in American History from the University of Maryland and a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. An avid fan of ocean liner history, that passion translates into professional success with his business Nautiques, an online ship memorabilia seller. Today is one of the most trusted nautical antiques sites in the business. Don sells to customers in all 50 states and around the world. Don and his husband Todd live in a restored Vermont village house that was built just a few years after Cunard first sailed across the Atlantic.

Barry W. Eager, Vice President, of Berlin, Massachusetts, is a local historian, musician and retired teacher. He joined SSHSA in 1973 and is now a lifetime member. In addition to serving on the board, he has contributed many articles to SSHSA publications, and currently authors "Heard on the Fantail" in PowerShips magazine. He is active in local activities in the Town of Berlin, Massachusetts, a member of the cemetery commission and historical commission, and specializes in collecting music and songs having to do with steamboats.

Nicholas Langhart, Vice President, grew up in Ohio and has a passion for maritime heritage and historic architecture. He currently serves as library director at The Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, Massachusetts. Nick holds a Master's Degree in Historic Preservation from Cornell University. Nick is an instructor for the Evolution of New England Architecture at Fitchburg State and has taught the History of Worcester's Architecture at Clark University and Worcester State University. Prior to serving as a professional library director, he was Property Manager for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now better known as Historic New England. His expertise was instrumental in organizing the SSHSA library at the Ship History Center in 2015.

CAPT Robert E. Hughes, Treasurer received his Bachelor's Degree as a government major from Colby College in 1968, and a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Fordham University in 1976. Hughes served in the U.S. Navy as a Photographer's Mate, 2nd Class, on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid, providing photo support services during operational deployments, which included a six-month NATO cruise. After his time in service, Hughes served as a Line Supervisor for the New Haven Railroad from 1968 to 1974, Transportation Planning Analyst for Long Island Railroad from 1974 to 1977, and an Operations Manager for Newsweek (1977-1979), Time magazine and Lifemagazine. As a Senior Publishing Production Executive for numerous companies such as Time Warner, McGraw-Hill, Readers Digest, and others, he has accumulated international and domestic printing experience, as well as experience in manufacturing operations and plant restructuring.

Board Members

CAPT Terry Tilton USN (Ret.), Secretary, grew up on a farm in Iowa, but as a young man he longed for the sea. He attended and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, serving 25 years as a Naval Officer and completing a career qualified to command any ship in the Navy. He collects unique maritime artifacts, including one of the finest collections of ship builder's plates. He is a researcher and author of several feature-length articles in PowerShips, most notably his extensive compilations on companies such as Ingalls Shipbuilding. He is also an active participant as researcher, author, speaker, and officer in the Southern California Chapter of SSHSA.

CAPT James McNamara of Chatham, New Jersey, is a 1964 graduate of New York State Maritime College, with a Bachelor's Degree in Maritime Transportation. Captain McNamara joined SSHSA in 1982 and is a lifetime member. He has received numerous awards for his work as chief surveyor in cities all over the country, including the U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award and the U.S. Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award. He was inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame at the United Nations in New York in 2007 and served as Chairman of the Marine Section of the National Safety Council from 1987 to 1988. Since 1999, McNamara has been Chairman of the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler, New York.

Dr. Laurence Miller of Miami, Florida, served 25 years as Director of Libraries, Florida International University, before retiring in 2005. Prior to his role at FIU, he began his career as library director at Inter American University of Puerto Rico after studying at Florida State University. Larry is a world traveler and published author.

Paul O'Pecko of Westerly, Rhode Island, is the Vice President for Research Collections, and the Director of the G.W Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport. He is a graduate of Penn State and Drexel Universities and has been at Mystic Seaport since 1984. His major interest has been making the collections at the Museum more accessible to researchers and the general population, especially through digital means. He is also the current editor of the electronic journal CORIOLIS: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies.

CAPT David Pickering of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the founder of Seamanship and Leadership Training for Youths (S.A.L.T.Y.), a non-profit organization organized in 2014. S.A.L.T.Y. provides sailing adventures aboard traditional sailing ships for Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts and other youth organizations including Gold Star Teens, the sons and daughters of a military parent who gave their life defending our freedoms. In 1984, Dave founded Preventure Corporate Wellness, located in Rhode Island. He and his partners have grown the company from a startup to a multi-million dollar business. Dave retired from Preventure in 2014, and joined the SSHSA Board in 2016. He's a licensed USCG Merchant Marine Officer and an SSHSA CAPTs' Circle member since 2013.

David L. Powers Jr. of Seattle, Washington, is a 1983 honors graduate of Colby College with a Bachelor's Degree in history. In January of 1983 he undertook independent study in the Soviet Union, and was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellow Grant the following year to spend one year studying and documenting the history and development of ocean liners in England, Scotland, France, Italy and the Netherlands. He has worked for many shipping and travel companies including American Express, Cunard, and is currently the director of Cruise Programs, Virtuoso.

Thomas Ragan of Miami, Florida, is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and after a career in international corporate finance as a partner in major U.S. law firms he currently is a partner in his own firm, Ragan & Freeman LLP, based in Lakeville, Connecticut. He is a lifelong lover of ocean travel, having sailed back and forth to Brazil as a child on the Moore-McCormack liners when his father was Chief of the U.S. Naval Mission there. Over the years he has built up an extensive collection of books on merchant shipping. He joined the SSHSA Board in 2013, and has been an active participant, leader and supporter ever since.

CAPT Eric Takakjian resides in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and is a professional mariner who has been sailing ships and oceangoing tugboats to various corners of the world since 1978. He is currently employed by The Vane Brothers Company aboard an oceangoing tugboat based in New York Harbor. He and his wife Lori both served in the U.S. Coast Guard and formerly owned and operated the research vessel QUEST, conducting oceanographic and shipwreck research in the North East United States and outer continental shelf waters. An avid diver and researcher, CAPT Takakjian has conducted extensive historical research on New England shipwrecks, resulting in the location and exploration of more than 70 previously undiscovered shipwrecks in the waters around New England and outer continental shelf waters. He has been an SSHSA member for over two decades, and volunteers his time cataloging and organizing the ship plans collections at the Ship History Center.

CAPT Eric T. Wiberg is an historian and lecturer living in Westport, Connecticut. A licensed captain by age 25, he has personally sailed more than 75,000 nautical miles on over 100 vessels in some 60 countries since 1987. In addition to a JD in maritime law and a Master's in Marine Affairs, Captain Wiberg has written four books, including "U-Boats in the Bahamas" published in 2016. He is the current marketing manager for McCallister Towing in Manhattan. His home page is

Douglas E. Bryan is a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley in Boston, MA with more than 30 years of experience in wealth management. In February, 2018, Doug was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of their "Best In State" Wealth Advisors and in 2013 & 2014 he was recognized by the Financial Times as one of the "Top 400 Financial Advisors in America". Doug's love of ships began at an early age after hearing stories of ancestors who navigated the globe or commanded ships on the Great Lakes. His passion for ocean liners developed after travelling on the France, QE2 and the Rotterdam with his grandparents. Today, Doug and his wife Leslie continue to enjoy ocean travel, highlights include the 2004 maiden voyage of the QM2 and yearly sailings on QM2 Christmas/New Year's holiday cruise. Doug resides in Cohasset, MA with his wife and two children.

Howard 'Buzz' Smart Has more than 30 years of experience on the water, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Marine Engineering and a USCG Third Engineer's License from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1981. After graduation, he went to work for Arco Marine Inc and was promoted through the ranks to Chief Engineer in 1994. Recently retired, Buzz lives in Wakefield, R.I., with his wife Joanne and a Black Lab named Gracie. He maintains a USCG Chief Engineer Unlimited License, Steam, Motor, Gas Turbine, and a USCG 50-Ton Master License. He is presently repowering his 36-foot Runaway Charter Sportfishing Boat, F/V Aerie One; the first of many planned retirement projects. His plans for the future include fishing, travel, consulting, and volunteering.

Odd Brevik Odd Brevik was born and raised in Hammerfest, Norway, and has lived and worked in Connecticut for 38 years. Prior to opening up his own business in 1986, Odd served 13 years in the Norwegian Merchant Marine, and another decade working as engine room crew and 2nd Engineer on gas tankers, bulk carriers, car carriers, super tankers, clean oil tankers, and bulk/oil ships. He started New England Pump & Valve in a 400 square foot garage, rebuilding pumps and valves for power plants, water and sewage plants and oil tank farms. It eventually moved to an expanded shop that had 23,000 square feet of space and millions of dollars in sales. Odd and his wife, Normajean, sold the business in 2016 and retired, planning to reside Florida when not traveling the world.

Immediate Past President

Mary L. Payne Past President,of Wallingford, Pennsylvania, has spent more than 25 years as an experienced consultant for strategic and business planning for health and health-related organizations. She received her Bachelor's Degree from the College of St. Benedict, and her Master's degrees in Business and Social Work from Temple University's School of Business and School of Social Administration. She has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1978 and is also a part of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Additionally, she is certified to conduct accreditation reviews for continuing care retirement communities as part of the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission. Her work has included planning engagements for various services, such as long-term care, ambulatory care, emergency room, medical, surgical, oncology, pediatric, women's and children's, child and family welfare, and AIDS and HIV. She has also conducted training programs in long-term care, staff development program, and management and governance retreats all over the country. Payne was the Senior Manager at the Katz Consulting Group Inc. and Senior Manager at KPMG Peat Marwick's Northeast Region Management Consulting, Strategic Planning Practice. Currently, she has her own consulting firm, Payne & Associates. She wrote A Guide to Memorandum of Understanding: Negotiation and Development for Long-Term Care Management Agencies, which was picked by the Administration on Aging for national distribution to state units. Along with Gerald Katz, Payne authored "Network Formation: Lessons Learned" which was also published in Ambulatory Outreach, the publication of the Society for Ambulatory Care Professionals in Spring 1997.