A Meeting of the Captains

Location : Kingwood

Silverado Kingwood resident Ralph Bartels recently reconnected with one of his life’s greatest points of pride when he visited the Port of Houston, where he served as United States Coast Guard Captain from 1979 to 1983. One rainy morning this past March, Captain Bartels, accompanied by family and members of the Silverado Kingwood team, traveled to the port for a special meeting with current U.S. Coast Guard Captain, Brian Penoyer.

From the moment the Captain and his family arrived at the Port of Houston Authority offices — which overlook impressive ships and large warehouses — the smile on Bartels’ face and his comfort level with the surroundings made it clear that memories long dormant may have come back to life.

“It was really special to watch him sit down and look across, and know that, that’s the view he had for four years,” shared Captain Bartels’ daughter, Kimberly. “He knew he was back in his element, and to have those moments [is] so rare at this point in his life.” 

Although he spent about four years at the Port of Houston, Captain Bartels completed 14 different assignments all over the world and across the United States. The passion he developed at officer school in 1957 turned into a nearly 30-year career with the U.S. Coast Guard. It left such an impression on him, that even advanced dementia did not get in his way during this special visit.

As the two Captains — the former and the current — sat together and observed shipping activities from a high window, they discussed and reflected on the differences and similarities of their decades-distant tenures as Port Captains. All in attendance agreed that it was truly a special moment. For Bartels’ family and Silverado associates alike, it was an undeniable expression of the magic that can happen when a person’s dignity and uniqueness is honored as it should be.

We are pleased to share Captain Bartels’ story here.

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