Banker, community leader Fred Sears wins State Chamber’s Marvel Cup

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Fred Sears

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce awarded its \Josiah Marvel Cup to Fred C. Sears II. The award was given at the State Chamber’s 185th Annual Dinner. He also received a tribute from his long-time friend, President Joe Biden.

The Marvel Cup honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state, community, or society. The State Chamber’s highest honor is named in memory of the Honorable Josiah Marvel, who reorganized and served as the first president of the State Chamber in 1913. The  recipient of the Marvel Cup is kept secret until the night of the dinner.

Josiah Marvel Cup
Award Recipients
1951-2022

1951 Dr. M.A. Tarumianz
1952 J. Gordon Walsh
1953 Margaret Irving Handy, M.D.
1954 Henry T. Claus
1955 I.B. Finkelstein
1956 James W. Williams
1957 Pearl Glenn Herlihy
1958 William Reily Brown
1959 John G. Leach
1960 Clarence A. Fulmer
1961 Maurice du Pont Lee
1962 Lloyd R. Leslie
1963 Dr. Ward I. Miller
1964 H. Edmund Bullis
1965 Edwin P. Neilan
1966 Warren C. Newton
1967 Russell W. Peterson
1968 Emily H. Womach
1969 William Winder Laird
1970 Charles A. Robinson
1971 Eugene R. Perry
1972 Ruth M. Cann
1973 Harvey C. Smith
1974 Fred T. O’Donnell
1975 Wright W. Robinson
1976 William C. Lewis
1977 J. Allen Frear, Jr.
1978 J. Frank Gordy
1979 J. Caleb Boggs
1980 Gilbert S. Scarborough, Jr.
1981 Daniel M. Herrmann
1982 William Marvel
1983 John E. Healy II
1984 Charles E. Welch
1985 William T. McLaughlin
1986 Roxana C. Arsht
1987 Pierre S. du Pont IV
1988 Eugene D. DiSabatino
1989 Sally V. Hawkins
1990 Edmund N. Carpenter II
1991 Jeremiah P. Shea
1992 Joseph F. Hulihan
1993 John E. Burris

1994 James H. Gilliam, Sr.
1995 Marvin and Muriel Gilman
1996 Richard P. DiSabatino, Sr.
1997 Irving Shapiro
1998 John W. Rollins, Sr.
1999 Brother Ronald Giannone, O.F.M
2000 Charles M. and Julie P. Cawley
2001 Alexander F. Giacco, Sr.
2002 Leonard W. Quill
2003 William V. Roth, Jr.
2004 James H. Gilliam, Jr.
2005 Dale E. Wolf
2006 Irénée du Pont, Jr.
2007 David P. and Louise Roselle
2008 Warren L. Allen
2009 Marvin N. Schoenhals
2010 Edgar S. Woolard
2011 Mike N. Castle
2012 Robert F. Rider
2013 John F. Porter
2014 E. Norman Veasey
2015 Robert Laskowski
2016 O. Francis Biondi, Esq.
2017 Carroll M. Carpenter
2018 Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Dr. Jill Biden
2019 Joshua Martin III, Esq. and Cynthia Primo Martin
2020 Gerret and Tatiana Copeland
2021 Major General (Ret.) Francis D. Vavala

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Sears spent nearly 40 years in the banking industry with ties to Delaware Trust Co., Wilmington Trust, Beneficial National Bank, Applied Bank and TD Bank. He was best known for serving as president of Commerce Bank Delaware, where he directed its expansion.

Early in his banking career, Fred took time out to serve as finance director and economic development director for the City of Wilmington and director of the Port of Wilmington — where he is credited with signing the port’s first banana contract with Dole Fresh Fruit, now one of the port’s largest customers.

He  was elected to Wilmington City Council from 1976 through 1984 and has continued to be active over the years by serving on the transition team for Mayor James Sills Jr., co-chairing transition teams for Governor Ruth Ann Minner and then New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, and chairing the Budget and Finance subcommittee for Gov. Jack Markell. Sears also chaired the Wilmington Economic and Financial Advisory Council.

Sears also served foundation, he encouraged individuals, businesses, and organizations to engage in long-term charitable giving to improve the statewide community, now and in the future. During his tenure, he was credited with tripling the Foundation’s long-term charitable funds, building its assets to $285 million, and creating The Next Generation board to inspire the future leaders to become involved in the community.

Sears has been a member of the board of directors of more than 40 community nonprofit organizations, including the Beau Biden Foundation, ChristianaCare, Delaware Alliance of Nonprofit Advancement, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Diamond State Port Corporation, Leadership Delaware, REACH Riverside, Rodel, Wilmington Housing Partnership, and the United Way of Delaware, to name a few. Fred has also served as a committee member on numerous fundraising activities for more than 25 different nonprofit organizations throughout Delaware, including the State Chamber’s Annual Dinner planning committee.

“Interestingly, Fred serves on our Marvel Cup Nominating Committee. Getting him to attend meetings and ‘fix’ this so that he remained unaware of the fact that he was our recipient was quite a feat,” said Michael J. Quaranta, president of the State Chamber.

As an additional surprise, President Joe Biden sent his words of congratulations to his high school friend in a video that was aired during the dinner. President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden were honored with the Marvel Cup at the State Chamber’s 181st Annual Dinner in 2018.

“Fred, you’ve stood by me in some of the most important moments in my life—the good and the bad moments. I’m honored to call you a friend and I’m grateful for all you’ve done for the state of Delaware as well,” said Biden in the video. “And I can’t thank you enough for your role in helping make the Beau Biden Foundation a reality and all you’ve done to help carry Beau’s legacy forward.”

Biden reflected on Sears’ mission to leave Delaware a better place than he found it: “You wear the heart of Delaware on your sleeve—everyone sees it.”

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