Bill Bauer Dies
W.H. Bauer Sr. died on Tuesday, June 27, 2000, at age 93, in a Galveston, Texas hospital.
He is remembered in the dredging industry as founder and owner of Bauer Dredging Company, Inc., which operated in Port Lavaca, Texas from 1936 to 1965, and as a generous friend to and chairman of the nascent World Dredging Association in the late 1960’s. He has been an emeritus board member of the Western Dredging Association since its reorganization in 1979.
He helped develop the Gulf Intracoastal Canal, beginning in the 1930’s, and as head of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, attracted businesses to the Texas Coast, where they could rely on the canal for transportation of goods and raw materials.
William H. Bauer, Jr. told IDR how his father got into dredging:
“He bought his first dredge in 1936. He had been earning $125 per month as a game, fish and oyster commissioner, and decided to go into the dredging business. It was an old wooden dredge, and he and his brother-in-law Harry Smith rebuilt it, doing most of the work themselves. They began by doing navigation dredging and shell dredging, and when the winds of World War II began blowing got the Gulf Intracoastal Canal started, which kept them busy for a long time,” said Bauer.
King Fisher was a lifetime friend of Mr. Bauer, as well as a competitor in the dredging business.
“He and I grew up three blocks apart,” said Fisher. “At one time Bill had 14 dredges. He started out as nothing and worked his way up. He did a world of dredging along the coast and overseas.”
“Bill and I were the only two members of the GICA from Texas, and we were both from Calhoun County,” Fisher recalls.
In 1965, Mr. Bauer sold the dredging company to American Commercial Barge Lines. Texas Gas Transmission, a gas pipeline company, bought it from them, and soon sold it to Southern Industries, a father and son venture, in Alabama. The following year the son was killed in an automobile accident and the father sold the dredges to the C.F. Bean Company in 1973. The nine dredges were the #52, which eventually sank off the Texas coast; the #32, a 27-inch cutterhead dredge which was sold to Mike Hooks and is still working under that name; the #85, which was sold to a company in Nigeria; the Dave Blackburn, which burned in 1996; the Shary, which was sold to Riedel International and renamed the Ollie Riedel, then sold to Manson Construction Company and is operating under the name Mr. Manson; the Borinquin, which was sold to a company in the Cayman Islands; the Bill Bauer, sold to a Greek company in Saudi Arabia; the Holland, sold in Nigeria, and the Pipeliner. (Sources at Bean were unable to recall the fate of the Pipeliner.)
Mr. Bauer was appointed to the University of Texas Board of Regents in 1965 by Governor John Connally, and endowed the Bauer Chair of Dredging Engineering at Texas A&M University, now held by Dr. Billy Edge. Other endowments include a cancer chair at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the Bauer House, the chancellor’s residence at the University of Texas at Austin.
He founded the First National Bank in Port Lavaca and the Seaport Bank in Seadrift, Texas.
He is survived by his wife Louise S. Bauer, a daughter Jeanie Lou Sagebiel of Victoria, a son William H. Bauer Jr. of Port Lavaca, a sister, Fay Bauer Sterling, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His funeral was held at Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, and he was buried at Greenlawn Gardens of Port Lavaca on Friday, June 30, 2000.