In Memory: Our Flagship Champion, Philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest

The SS United States Conservancy is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. One of the nation’s foremost philanthropists, in 2011 Lenfest donated the funds necessary to prevent the scrapping of the iconic SS United States, allowing the SS United States Conservancy to purchase the vessel from Norwegian Cruise Line.

The SS United States remains the only American ocean liner still afloat, and still holds the transatlantic speed record. Since Lenfest’s transformative donation in 2011, the Conservancy has built a community of supporters from across the nation and around the world and is working to advance a long-term redevelopment plan to save the historic vessel for future generations.


Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest with America’s Flagship, the SS United States.

Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy, writes:

“Gerry Lenfest was our hero. Without him, our nation’s flagship would have been lost to history. Like all great Americans, Gerry turned his own success into a way to give back to his community, his country, and the world. When he saw a need, he responded with a generosity and vision that inspired countless others to rally to great causes. When the SS United States was only days away from being lost forever, Gerry Lenfest stepped forward. He said that the SS United States was the ‘most majestic, most beautiful ship afloat.’

He believed the ship was ‘built at a time when “Made in America” really meant something, and that is a legacy that cannot be lost.’ We will continue to uphold Gerry’s own extraordinary legacy. The SS United States Conservancy — and indeed the entire nation — is deeply indebted to a true American patriot and visionary. We wish Gerry fair winds and following seas, and we will work every day to honor his commitment to the SS United States and the nation’s maritime history.”


Lenfest is awarded the Conservancy’s National Flagship Champion medal in 2010 following his pledge of $5.8 million for the purchase of the vessel. Photograph courtesy of Josimar de Souza.

The Conservancy offers our heartfelt condolences to all of Gerry’s family and friends, and extends our deepest gratitude for his crucial role in securing a future for America’s Flagship, the SS United States. Moving tributes to Lenfest and his remarkable philanthropic work can be found in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Help us honor H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest’s extraordinary vision for the SS United States.

Together, we can ensure a brilliant second act for this global ambassador and all-American record-breaker. Make your donation today, and join the fight to save the fastest and greatest ocean liner the world has ever known.