The History of the Seafarers Center

Jeffery Baldwin and Tom Tellepsen

The Houston International Seafarers’ Center (HISC) has helped US mariners with their careers, health, families, and personal life for decades. The Houston International Seafarers’ Centers are a “home away from home” for seafarers visiting the Port of Houston. Chartered in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of Texas, the Center has during its existence, served over a million visiting seafarers. The Center exists as the result of a deep desire and concern within the local maritime industry, followed by active support and involvement of the community and local churches, to provide a safe and welcoming recreational and spiritual environment on land for those who have chosen the sea as their livelihood. Join Jeffery Baldwin, a Port Chaplain, and Tom Tellepsen, a board member with the Houston International Seafarers Center (HISC), to learn about this organization, the work they do, and why they are critical to the maritime world. Later this week, on Friday, October 14, we’ll be honoring the HISC at our annual gala for their tireless efforts to make the maritime industry a great place to work.

Jeffrey Baldwin

Port Chaplain, Houston International Seafarers Center

Mr. Baldwin has been active in Houston business as well as starting as a ship visiting and day duty volunteer at the Houston International Seafarers Center back in the late 80’s. Most recently he has become a Port Chaplain at the Houston International Seafarers Center. As a Port Chaplain he works with our volunteers, various Center programs and the Center staff as well as maintaining a regular ship visiting schedule covering Houston’s public and private terminals.

Tom Tellepsen

Board Member, Houston International Seafarers Center

Native Houstonian who married a Viking from Minnesota, and after 52 years Kathy and Tom have three children, and eight grandchildren living in Virginia, California, and thankfully a couple still in Houston. After college at Arkansas and Houston, Tom began his Construction career in 1971 in Residential, which soon evolved into Institutional Projects in the Commercial field, including Churches, Private Schools, and Community Service Buildings. Kathy and Tom’s participation in volunteerism has been diverse and influenced by legacy. Their outreach efforts have focused on Homelessness, Dementia, Community Service Centers, and their one constant, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, as members of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

Tom became a Board Member of the Houston International Seafarers Center (HISC) in 2001. However, his interest in the Port began far earlier when he learned that his immigrant grandfather, Tom Tellepsen, built the Manchester Wharf in 1922, which was only the second dock of significance at the Port. His firm, Tellepsen, built the Anderson Clayton “Long Reach” docks in 1923 followed by numerous projects including the first Barbour Cut docks in 1977. This family history at the Port was further enriched by the appointment of Tom’s father, Howard T. Tellepsen, to the Chairmanship of the Port Commission from 1956-1970. That Administration was responsible for approving land and the building for HISC which was ardently supported by Clergy, the Greater Houston Community and Port Officials/Partners. HISC serves as a masterful template for fledgling Seafarers Center that share our passion for seafarers’ welfare. Whether in a pandemic or in regular times, we have learned that seafarers are truly the “invisible essential” workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *