SHERMAN WILLARD TRIBBITT was born in Denton, Maryland, on November 9, 1922. He is a 1941 graduate of Beacom College (now Goldey Beacom College), Wilmington, Delaware. After completion of his studies, he was employed by the Security Trust Company in Wilmington for a short time. In December 1942, due to World War II, he joined the U.S. Navy and served throughout the entire war. In early 1945 he was aboard the destroyer USS Frost in the North Atlantic when his unit received a Presidential Citation for sinking five U-Boats. After serving his country, he returned home and opened the Odessa Supply Company in Odessa, Delaware. This business served the Odessa area as a hardware supply store. In 1956 he ran for state representative for the first time and won; he was reelected in 1958, 1960, and 1962. From 1958 through 1964 he served as the Speaker of the House. In 1964 Tribbitt successfully ran for lieutenant governor with gubernatorial candidate Charles Layman Terry Jr. Governor Terry’s term was not known as an easy time in American History. The Vietnam War droned on and Civil Rights demonstrations were being staged nationwide and Terry and Tribbitt lost reelection bids in 1968. After sitting out for two years Tribbitt again successfully ran for state representative in 1970. He was named minority leader by his peers in the state house. In 1972, Tribbitt was elected governor, and he was inaugurated on January 16, 1973. Governor Tribbitt and his family moved into and resided full time at Woodburn, the Governor’s House purchased during Governor Terry’s administration. To date, his family has been the only governor’s family to reside there full time since its purchase. Perhaps Tribbitt’s greatest triumph during his administration was saving the heavily state-owned bank, Farmer’s Bank, from financial collapse. In late 1975 the bank disclosed that they had a loss of $22.5 million in bad loans. If the bank folded, so could the state. Governor Tribbitt and the leadership of the General Assembly fought on almost daily to keep the bank afloat. Also during his tenure, a Freedom of Information Act (Sunshine Law) was passed along with a new program that would make public buildings accessible to the handicapped. A new Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development was created to attract new industry to the state. Since leaving office, Tribbitt has worked with the Delaware River Basin Commission and in 1992 he was the presidential elector for Delaware.
Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors' Conference 1976.