Bill Ward, age 72, died on May 1, 2015 at the Bridgewood Nursing & Rehab Center in Neenah, Wisconsin.
Bill was born in Madison on July 28, 1942 and was the only child of Truman Lane and Viola Anderson Ward. Both mom and dad were music lovers. They met at the Ward-Brodt music company where dad was the co-founder and mom worked setting up music education programs. The family lived on Kensington Blvd., and McBride Rd, in Maple Bluff, and later moved to Marshall Wisconsin.
Bill's father died when Bill was only 10 years old. Bill lived and cared for his mother until she died in 1998.
Bill started his education at Lakewood Elementary School and went on to Wisconsin High School, graduating in 1960. He attended the college of William and Mary, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1964.
Being an only child, he enjoyed spending time with his cousins, aunts, and uncles. His cousins, Bill and Malla, like to tell the story of Bill's visits to see them in Rochester, New York. He would drive straight through, arriving before dawn, sometimes honking the horn to announce his arrival. Other trips to visit family included going to Miami to visit an elderly aunt. It was during these visits that he became interested in deep-sea fishing.
Bill's other "adopted" families were the Winnequah Gun Club and the Mendota Yacht Club.
Bill belonged to the National Rifle Association, Winnequah Gun Club, and Middleton Sportman's Club. He devoted time and expertise to running shooting matches and upgrading shooting ranges. He won many awards in rifle, pistol, and skeet competition and was considered a Master Class Shooter. His skills led to national matches in Camp Perry Ohio. He was a good man in helping others to shoot straight.
He devoted much of his life, to running sailboat races. He began by helping Ernie and Roselle Henkel in the late 1950s. He ascended to head judge and principal race officer for the Mendota Yacht Club and Inland Lakes Yachting Association. The sailboat races were always in good hands when Bill was in charge. Many residents along the lake remember the resonating canon blasts for the start and finish of the races Bill ran on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.
In May 2006, Bill suffered from a fall that caused spinal cord damage and made him paraplegic for the rest of his life.
Bill was big hearted and always willing to help, whether it was solving some technical problem or just being a good listener. His big booming laugh was his hallmark, even after his injury.
It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of long time Hoofer, MYC member and good friend Dennis Kennedy who died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest Sunday Feb 1st.
I met Dennis a number of years back at Hoofers while taking E scow lessons and sailed regularly with him for many years on several Hoofer boats. Dennis was active in the I20 fleet in its early years including competing at several regattas. He later joined with me and a few other friends to search for and eventually find a wood A scow to restore (later renamed to Cindy Lou) which he sailed both competitively as well as socially for many years.
Dennis was a regular on the Hoofer keelboat Soma, especially later in fall when the wind was up and the water cold. He was ann avid windsurfer, active Iceboater (Nite #113) and a regular fill-in crew on many boats.
Dennis was also very active in ski patrol at Cascade Mountain. Mostly however Dennis was a kind-hearted man who loved a good beer with friends.
We'll all miss his laugh and his optimistic attitude. His family will have a celebration of life on February 27th.
Last week another skipper joined the ranks of MYC's Celestial Sailors. Bill Shelton-E-Boater, Past-Commodore, Fleet Captain, Scorekeeper, and all-around good guy-passed away at home on December 31, 2014 after a long struggle with cancer.
I believe that Bill joined our club around 1974, commuting from his home in the western suburbs of Chicago to race his M20, Superzap, with our hot 20-boat fleet. In 1976, Bill and his family found the perfect home for a sailor-7 Bayside Drive. Close enough to Burrows Park that on windy days he could walk over in his trademark white t-shirt to see if anyone else had the nerve to go out, and still get back to the pier when he discovered that they were, in fact, going out. Over the years, Bill and Carolyn renovated and remodeled this old house, eventually adding a garage long enough to hold his E-boat (on the trailer) with room to spare.
Always mild-mannered and a bit reserved, Bill had a secret need for speed. Before he started racing sailboats, he was a water skier with a fascination for fast powerboats. If you ever had a ride in his 1961, 16-foot fiberglass Anthony with the 115 Mercury engine hanging on the transom, you know what I mean.
Around 1980, Bill took the next logical step for someone who always needed to go a bit faster when he purchased Bob Gilson's E-boat, Ring Dang Doo. He won a few trophies with that boat and around 1993, Wildthing, another E-boat of note, came along. He campaigned E-boats until 2012, for 32 years, if my math is correct. A top-notch sailor, you'll find his name on just about all of our E-boat trophies and several of our specialty trophies as well. And when he joined Doug Tormey's A-boat syndicate, Bill's Chrysler New Yorker, a veritable land yacht itself, frequently served as the official tow vehicle.
Though we might not have noticed, Bill touched each and every member of our club in one way or another. Around 1990, a wise member of the board thought that since Bill had been involved with computers since the days when mainframes had less computing power than your smart phone, that he might know a thing or two about numbers. He did. Actually, long before you could download a scoring system off the Internet, Bill created one that calculated handicaps not just for the keelboats but also for all of our specialty handicap races. Then, in the days before email and websites, he faxed or mailed results to anyone who subscribed to this weekly service. Bill also served as Commodore in 1981 and probably E-fleet captain at least once. He and Carolyn were membership chairs and directory editors, too.
A man with a big heart, his home was open to anyone at the park in a jam who needed help. If you had to find a part for an emergency repair, you could probably find it in Bill's compact but well-organized workshop, along with the tools to do it if you'd neglected to bring yours.
In 2006, when our good friend, PRO emeritus Bill Ward, needed help, Bill was there for him, running interference with various agencies and nursing homes for his care. Bill summoned our breakfast group to inventory and eventually sell a collection of a thousand-plus items from movie cameras to reamers.
Once I retired in 2006, he promptly invited me to join the Thursday morning breakfast group at Perkins on the east side. That's when I really got to know Bill. We took field trips to car shows, boat shows, and, of course, to Neenah to visit Bill Ward. Though I thought I knew how to do things on a spreadsheet, he taught me how to split, format, splice, dice, condense, and reorder cells full of data in ways that I never knew possible. That's when I started calling him the "Wizard of Excel."
The Wizard has now "crossed the bar" on his way to join so many other sailors at the big regatta in the sky, where you're always sailing on the lifted tack under a perfect sky. Fortunately, we'll all have great memories of a life well spent with him in the company of good friends, boats, cars, and a basement full of tools and stories.
On Thursday evening, August 28, 2014 Jack Loew, a fine sailor, fleet champion and MYC commodore quietly passed over the bar.
A few years agowhile researching an article about Olympian Peter Barrett, Jack proudly told me that he might have some "material" that I could have. He called a few days later and in that energetic voice of his announced that after rummaging around in his basement he found he'd found a few things. That turned out to be volumes of MYC history and lots material that I used to prepare Peter's nomination to the Madison Sports Hall of Fame.
Coupled with this, Jack proudly announced that he and his wife Ruth purchased their first C-boat from Peter. According to my sources he named her Hi-Jack. Jack held onto that C Boat for a few years. Then, after crewing with Bill Mattison on H-14, he and Jim Henkel picked up their own E-boat and started winning races and series. That boat, Blue Chip, helped them bring home E fleet championships in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They also won the Bernard trophy for best finish at an ILYA regatta, the Top Banana trophy (twice) for best finish at the E-Invite and other club handicap races. Jack served as Commodore of our club in 1969. Together with his wife Ruth they seemed to be fully engaged in MYC volunteer projects.
Jack was a passionate E-boater. Just how passionate? Remember that Jack was racing E's back in the days when they were built of wood. These boats would occasionally need a coat of varnish or paint. So when it came time to build a new garage behind their home on Hammersley Road, Jack built one deep enough to hold his E-boat (about 30 feet). Now that's a passionate sailor. During the winter Jack split his time between curling and iceboating.
If you were among the few who motored/drifted out to the starting area on Wednesday evening, you might have noticed Veloce sailing under a slightly different spinnaker. Our boys on Veloce flew this in tribute to their good friend and MYC member Keith Kreps who passed away on Tuesday. Keith was and very active MYC social member. He and Wendy were regular hosts of the famous Bloody Mary party for many, many years at their home near the UW Lifesaving Station. A celebration of Keith's life will be scheduled at a later date. His obit is in today's Wisconsin State Journal. I'll leave the rest of this message to Grant Frautschi who had this remembrance and tribute to his dear friend.
It is with a mixed emotion, sad and happy that I share with you that our friend Keith Kreps passed on August 19th. Keith was my best friend and everyone's friend. He shared his funny signature open mouth laugh and smile, his passion for life, knowledge of business, his boats, his beer and his family. Keith did not have a big family, but he sure made one by including all of us.
Always desiring to be a pirate, Keith never made it, instead Keith was the Jolly Mon. Every second that I knew him, everywhere he went, near and far he spread joy and laughter, and made people happy.
Please know the strength that your friendships gave him and Wendy as they fought an undiagnosed illness these last few years. As always, he showed us how to live life, during the last years, he was always optimistic never giving up. His boundless love for Wendy kept him fighting, trapped in his body he just could not do it anymore.
In the end, as he was leaving on his journey, Keith was there holding court making us all smile and laugh, telling stories and then listening to ours. It should not be a surprise to anyone that he had a Bloody Mary, a beer, and listened to music surrounded by the ones he loved the most and slowly drifted peacefully away on his journey of afterlife.
I believe that Keith is sailing the heavens and will always be around us. I know that he is in my heart and as only the Jolly Mon could be and will put a smile on my face whenever I think of him, which will be often. As you think of Keith right now, I bet you're smiling and have just a little spring in your heart - that is the magic of our friend Keith.
I can add this chance encounter I had with Keith a few years ago when I pulled into the Edgewater pier to pick up a load of passengers in the Grand Mariner. The place was jumping and there was no space for any "normal" boats to tie up, let alone the 52-foot Grand Mariner. Keith, camped out with some friends at a table on the end of the pier, instantly noticed me and my "situation." Suddenly he was on his feet, acting as the dockmaster, cajoling folks to move their boats so we could get in. It was as though that pier was his and everyone there was his friend who'd stopped by for a cocktail. No muss, no fuss, no stress. Within a matter of moments a (huge) hole opened up at the front of the pier and we were in and out leaving everyone there and especially Keith, with a big smile. What a guy.
I just received a message from Bill Shelton informing me that Nancy Harper passed away on Tuesday, May 20. Many of you know her husband John and have been to various after-race parties at their home on Lakewood Harbor. Nancy and John met at a regatta at Lake Geneva. They've been married since 1950.
Helen died on April 11 following a fall at her home. Helen and her husband of 63 years, Ted were active with our club during the 1970s and 80s when they raced first an O'Day Mariner and later an Erickson 23 in Division III. Staunch competitors, their names gracing many of our trophies. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Ted. A celebration of Helen's life will be held on June 15, 2014.
On Sunday June 16, 2013--Father's Day, we lost a good friend and respected competitor when Bruce Renwick and his brother Rick died in a plane crash on Madeline Island near Bayfield. I'm not exactly sure when Bruce started sailing with our club but I do know he was sailing long before I sailed my first E Boat race in 1977.
In those days, Bruce crewed with the legendary Dr. John Mendenhall and the equally legendary Emily Early. When Doc traded in his E Boat, Pretzel Jr. IV, for the Annie Allen Bruce made the move as well. After Doc's death, Bruce picked up her tiller, that is how most of us know him today.
Annie Allen didn't have the best sails, her rigging was occasionally subject to failure but she had the best skipperand crew. Bruce was one of these guys who could always make a boat go, no matter what condition the boat, its sails or its crew were in. Occasionally I'd look over at her from my perch on White Squall and see some kind of horrible spinnaker mess that made me think she'd be an easy mark. That never seemed to be the case. A recovery was made, heads were calm and she'd be back in the hunt in just a few boat lengths.
Bruce was the consummate sailor. Fast in any condition and just as happy to congratulate you for a victory as he was to receive the same. Fair winds my friend.
"Moose" was a big guy who most recently raced one of the biggest boats on the lake. Indecision was not the biggest in terms of length overall, but certainly biggest in terms of displacement. John grew up on Prospect Place on the south shore of the lake. Moose was an iceboater and I think he might have raced C Boats in those days though I can't say that with any certainty. I know that his name appears on several of our M 20 trophies during the 1960s.
Others who've been around for longer than I have are sure to have a recollection worthy of note about Moose. One of those stories comes from Steve Lewis who recalls a certain all-fleet handicap race that began with an all-fleet start. Steve skippered a Laser back then and happened to be on starboard when he spotted Indecision, a Morgan Out Island 28 barreling down towards him on port. "He was almost twice as long as I was and with a displacement of two or three tons, he had plenty of momentum. But I decided to take a chance and hail starboard! Just as I thought it a collision was imminent, Moose spun the wheel and called down from the rail several feet above me; Hold your course sonny, acknowledging my position as the right-of-way boat. A true gentleman of the sea."
Indecision hasn't been on the starting line since 1987 but we will always have the Indecision trophy, presented to the most improved keelboat skipper, to remind us of this fine sailor who has crossed the bar to the regatta in the sky.
I first met Mo in 1977 at an after-race party when my skipper, Don Ermer, introduced us. At the time Mo sailed an E Boat named Mo's Miss, the replacement for his first E Boat, Dorothy D. Who Dorothy was or how William Wallace Cleland picked up the nickname of Mo remains an enigma, at least to me. Mo arrived in Madison as a grad student in 1951. Before to long, he connected with Hoofers and began riding the same slippery slope into a lifetime of sailing as the rest of us. Those were heady days at Hoofers. Mo and other UW Students like Peter Harken, Charlie Miller, Art Mitchell and Peter Lundt raced Tech's and Finn's with Peter Barrett as he prepared for his quest of Olympic Gold.
Peter Barrett once said that the Finn "is a boat that demands raw guts." That describes Mo in more ways than just sailing. Certainly he was a great sailor, winning the 1964 midwest Finn championships--Barrett came in second. You'll find "W.W. Cleland" or "Mo Cleland" engraved on many of our E Scow trophies, recognition of a sailing career with MYC spanning almost two decades. Iceboating formed another chapter of Mo's sailing dossier. In the mid-1960s Mo, Peter Harken and Peter Barrett all crewed for the legendary Jim Payton on the equally legendary Class A iceboat, the Mary B. When I asked Mo about that he nonchelantly recalled, "I do remember sailing on the Mary B at Oshkosh in a real blow. That was the race where we made one downwind leg (2 miles) in one minute flat. Quite a thrill!" Peter Harken's recolection of those days on the B were a bit more dramatic. "Mo was fearless. Regardless of how hard the wind was blowing or how close we were to losing it, Mo would keep pushing us to sheet harder and harder refusing to ease the mainsheet even an inch."
Though he retired fom active sailing in the late 1970's he wasn't done. His daughters Erica and Elsa raced X boats. Then in 1981 when the A fleet was revived, Mo served as PRO and coach for the Falcon and later Silver Bullet syndicates organized by Doug Tormey and Mo's wife Joan.
In 2002 I invited Mo to join the board of the Madison Community Sailing Orgznization. I didn't realize what I'd gotten myself into. He was not only enthusiastic about our project but fearless. In the face of what I can politely describe as some contentious public meetings, Mo was unflappable. He waded right in, becoming our liason with the Northside Planning Council (NPC) letting them see that our group of sailors were not as flakey as everyone made us out to be. While our project never materialized, it launched Mo into a decade-long relationship with NPC. He served first as a board member and recently on the editorial and proofreading team for Northside News.
Mo's home at 1154 Sherman Avenue was bookended by two other E Boaters--Bill Mattison and Harry Field who said, "Mo truly was a wonderful character. A knowledgeable person you could always count on for help and who always let you know where the world was supposed to be."
Mo has now "crossed the bar" on his way to join so many other sailors at the big regatta in the sky where you're always sailing on the lifted tack under a perfect sky. He is survived by his daughters Elsa and Erica; grandsons Max, Finn and Griffin and his brothers, Robert and Charles. A memorial reception will be held at a later date.
Rozell Henkel, longtime MYC judge, mentor and cheerleader to sailors young and old, passed away on Sunday, March 11. She was 96. "When I joined our club in 1977, Rozell and her husband Ernie had been judging our races for, well... forever.
Everyone knew them. I remember heading out to the race course the first time. It was blasting out of the southwest and we were roaring along on a screaming plane when my skipper, Don Ermer, shouted above all of this, 'Where's Ernie? Do you see Ernie out there?' The only Ernie I knew was on Sesame Street, and I couldn't understand why he'd be out there in these conditions. I soon learned that 'Ernie' was short for Ernie and Rozell, the judges. Sure enough, as we plunged further into the Mendota mayhem, the Double Barrel came into view, tossing wildly at anchor, with flags flying, ready to start our race.
Why the Double Barrel? Ernie's son Jim provides the explanation, "Dad's original judge's boat was a pontoon boat that a friend of mine made by welding 55-gallon drums together. There were two cannons mounted on the bow, so the Double Barrel had a double meaning, always a good thing for a boat's name. When that vessel was no longer seaworthy, the Double Barrel II took her place."
"Rozell was the MYC judge when I started racing an E-Scow on Mendota in 1972," recalls Lon Schoor. "Ernie and Rozell were always together working as a team. They didn't have any fancy equipment to help set a course, but I can attest to the fact that MYC's race courses were as good or better than at any other ILYA lake I ever sailed on."
"Rozell was a peach," Bill Hanson told me in a recent email. "I started racing C boats in 1960 when I was 12 and we tipped over a lot. Over the next few years, Ernie and Rozell were always there to help get us upright. I don't know who gave us the name 'Horizontal Hanson,' but I think it was Rozell. She always called me 'Horizontal.' That's why my boats have been named Horizontal 1 through 9. Rozell was Ernie's right arm on the judge's boat and attended after-race parties to share in everybody's racing day. The only time she wasn't so happy happened on Labor Day, 1967. Back then, 'Last Gun' was won on Labor Day, and I was determined to win it to go with 'First Gun' that I got at the beginning of the season. Steve Suhr and I were the only boats out there at sunset, when Ernie and Rozell motored by on their way in. They told me to call with my time when I got to shore. It was 2:30 a.m. when I called. I couldn't understand why they weren't as excited as I was."
Rozell and Ernie's many years of service as our race committee is unmatched in MYC history. This very special person in our club's history has "crossed the bar." She is on her way to join so many other sailors at the big regatta in the sky, where your course is always square, the sky is a perfect blue, and everyone finishes before dark. She is survived by her six children--Jim, Suzanne, Paul, Bambi, Pamela and Steven--and 12 grandchildren. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date. Her complete obituary is posted at madison.com.
Lyle Bracker, long time foredeck man on various E Scows skippered by Don Ermer, passed away last Thursday, August 25. A native of Green Bay, Lyle started racing in the late 1960s when he signed on as a crewman (as he often referred to himself) on a friend's Lightning. Within a few years later he had a boat of his own and, with one of his daughters as his regular crew, they were fleet champions for several seasons at the Windjammers Sailing Club on Green Bay.
On a particularly breezy day shortly after he moved to Madison around 1988, Lyle appeared at Burrows looking for a ride, just as my skipper, Don Ermer, showed up looking for a fourth. The rest is history. Lyle instantly became our regular jib trimmer and foredeck man, a position he held for the next twelve years. In those days, as the youngest member of "Team Ermer," I was continually amazed with Lyle's acrobatic ability to scramble up on the pitching foredeck of that E Boat, grab the pole and execute a smooth jibe in both drifters and big winds. Despite whatever turmoil that might be raging around him or the spray that might be rolling over him, Lyle never lost his usual calm, even-tempered and always unflappable disposition.
"I was a competitive swimmer in high school and I just kept at it for the rest of my life," he once told me. Not that we capsized a lot, but it was a skill that occasionally came in handy during his career on our E Boat team. After he retired from competitive sailing around 2000, Lyle stayed active with our club. He was regular at the spring and fall banquets always dressed in his customary blue blazer. On occasion he'd assist Bill Ward on RC1. When he retired from his career as a pharmacist, Lyle joined the Thursday morning breakfast group (Bill Shelton, Jerry Simon, Bill Ward and others) for their weekly confab at Perkins on the east side of town and on excursions to various car and aircraft museums.
Every so often I think that it might be time to give up this sport. Then I look around to some of the other boats and realize that I'm still "just a kid." At least that's how I felt every time I looked over at Annie Allen and Emily Earley.
Last week Emily Earley joined the ranks of our Celestial Members when she passed away on April 16. I first encountered Emily in 1977. That was my first year as a member and I'd signed on with Don Ermer. In one of our first races that season, I recall finishing several boats behind another E Boat skippered by Dr. Mendenhall who was then quite a bit older than either of us Don's. Then I met his crew, an older woman and a young kid. The older woman was Emily and the kid, well that was Bruce Renwick, I think. By the time I came on the scene, they'd been sailing together for some time, perhaps decades, which no doubt accounted for their performance on the water. Teamwork and a keen eye for the wind count for something in boat racing, and they continued to outsmart us for most of the season. A few years later, Emily and Dr. Mendenhall made the transition from his E Boat to his new Kirby 25, Annie Allen. After the Dr.'s death, she stayed aboard with her new skipper, Bruce Renwick. A few years ago, she missed part of the season after an accident in the cockpit. Emily, always the enthusiastic sailor, was back the following season. Windy days or calm, Emily, lover of nature and environmentalist, was always happy to be aboard and out on the water where she and her skipper would frequently have their way with the rest of the fleet.
The next time someone says, "You're too old for this sport, why don't you give it up?" remember Emily. She would have been 95 this June.
There will be no funeral or memorial service. Her daughters will welcome their mother's friends and colleagues at a celebration of her life at a later date. Emily's ashes will be added to the Hornblower family plot in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York. Memorial contributions may be made to 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, 16 North Carroll Street, Suite 810, Madison, WI 53703.
Don Sanford writes, "This morning I received a message that I knew would come, I was just hoping that it wouldn't come this soon. Our good friend Steve Yost passed away this past Thursday, April 7.
Steve has been a member of MYC, since birth or at least since 1971 when he began racing an X boat with his sister Anne. Since then he's been an active, well very active, member of our club. Recapping a few things that I recall, Steve raced his M-20 for a number of years and was a founding member of the I-20 fleet. Steve was an outstanding sailor and upright citizen. How outstanding you might ask? If you happen to have a copy of the 2006 MYC directory, you'll see Steve at the tillers of his I-20 Pizazz roaring upwind. It was with that form that he and Scott Noles took home the ILYA I-20 Championship in 2001. Steve also won the very first I-20 National Championship in 1998. And, how upright? I personally know a MYC member who sent his then, 16-year-old son and hot shot junior sailor to an I-20 regatta with Steve. Both returned home safely with no incident, at least any that were reported.
Steve served our club on the Board of Directors and then as Vice Commodore, Commodore, Rear Commodore and probably a few other positions that I forgot. Steve was also our trophy chair for many years and has supported our club through his position as Manager of our local West Marine store.
As I recall, in the spring of 2009, Steve had surgery for lung cancer. That fall he had another round of surgery for cancer in his esophagus. It's been a long road for our friend. I wish him well as he joins the other sailors who are waiting for Carl to fire the warning gun at the big regatta in the sky.
Fair winds, my friend."
Carl Fritzner passed away on Tuesday, March 1 at the Willows Nursing Home where he has been a resident for the past three years. I first met Carl, I mean really met Carl, (up close and personal) when I became Vice-Commodore of our club in the fall of 1995. Though I knew him as "the guy in the mark set boat" (RC2), I really didn't know much about Carl. What I learned about (and from) Carl during the next two years while I served as Vice Commodore and then Commodore was his passion for sailing and for our Club. In fact, it was Carl who taught me to say, "our Club" not "the club." Carl's sailing career goes back a long time. I know that he raced M-20's in our club and while living up in Bayfield or Ashland did quite a bit of Lake Superior and Great Lakes sailing on big boats.
Carl served as our Club's Assistant Race Officer for at least a decade and probably longer. Prior to every race (and we were racing on Wednesday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday mornings then) Carl would load a couple of marks and anchors along with his personal set of Race Committee flags and poles into his power boat. If it was Sunday morning, he'd also have a fresh pastry for his ROA. And if it was hot, there'd be a beer or two in that cooler of his. Then he'd set out into the lake ahead of RC1 and look for the breeze.
Carl's regular reports back to Bill Ward in RC1 were exact and often quite entertaining. Once a wind direction was established, he'd return to the starting area and wait until the 10 (or was it the 5) minute gun when he'd roar up the course and set the weather mark. Rain or shine, breezy or drifter, Carl was there. Carl could also be counted on to help out during regattas whether they were on Mendota, Lake Geneva or Okoboji. He served as PRO for some of the first ILYA regattas when the I-20's participated. I remember one memorable I-20 Invite that he PRO'd for us. We ran that regatta from Olin Park on Lake Monona because Burrows was under about 18" of water. That was the only boat ramp in the city that wasn't under water. Whatever lake we were on we could count on Carl to set a great course for us and run a fine race. I'm guessing that there dozens and dozens of other stories about orinvolving Carl floating around the Club. I might even be able to publish them in print as long as I changed the names to protect the reputations of those involved.
Like many others, Carl was a mainstay of our Club. Tuesday, he moved on to that race course in the sky to join so many other sailors who've gone before him. Usually we wish them fair winds but in Carl's case he'd be bored with just "fair winds," I think fair skies and "somewhat shifty" winds would suit him better. After all, we need to keep things interesting for him as he sets the courses for all the sailors who've been waiting for a good PRO.
Godspeed my friend.
We recently became aware that our good friend, sailing competitor, and Board member Stu Seffern, and his long-time partner Debbie Loiselle, died when their single-engine plane crashed at the Joliet Regional Airport, near Chicago. Stu and Debbie were returning from a trip to Orlando, Fl.
Stu has been a member of MYC for decades, and a was regular crew member aboard Wildthing, Bill Shelton's E-Scow, H 101. Stu was always willing to share his opinions on sailboat racing, flying, motorcycles, ice boating, and local politics with us; we were happy to listen, because our take on things really mattered to him. Stu's interest in such activities not only showed his passion for life, but his selfless approach to such involvements showed his interest in, and again passion for, the lives of many in our community.
Stu recently accepted a position on our Club's Board of Directors, immediately providing substantial innovative ideas and input, which the Board will be taking into consideration as 2009 and beyond initiatives are addressed; he of course was also a magician when it came to tackling and resolving carpet condition challenges.
In 2006, Stu volunteered to organize our "celebrity gunners," local politicians who fired the harbor gun one hour before each race at the ILYA MC Invitational Regatta at Bishops Bay
Stu and Debbie were substantial boosters of our club; they were seemingly at every social event, appreciating conditions, race results, the company of all, also occasionally providing friendly 'water taxi' services to those stranded on land or anchored at sea.
Our good friend Don Ermer passed away on Thursday morning, December 13, 2007 at Hospice Care in Madison after a struggle with cancer.
I don't really know when Don learned to sail, but it was probably when he was in Madison as an undergrad at the UW in the late 1950s. He often told me that Jim Henkel was his first sailing instructor at Hoofers.
I started sailing with Don in 1977 when he replaced his wooden E-boat (H 40) with a new Johnson glass boat. That was the first in a series of three glass E's, all named Pursuit, that he owned. Don steered, I trimmed chute, ran the boards and called tactics. Initially, my wife Barb came some expert foredeck men like Lyle Bracker and Ron Antonelli joined us. Don loved the E and often described E-boats as "the best ride in the world." During the years of that E-boat program, Don became legendary for his exploits on the lake. Initially, we raced three days a week. We went out no matter what the conditions were-drifters or blowing like stink. It didn't matter. Staying at the pier was unthinkable. And retiring for anything other than a catastrophic breakdown or capsize was equally unthinkable. Our occasional guests as fourth included a collection of relatives, friends, neighbors, his students and a former Madison mayor.
In the dead of winter in 2001, Don and Bill Minardi made a fateful trip to Sturgeon Bay to look at White Squall, an Ultimate 20, buried deep in a snow bank. Eventually, she made her way to Madison where we've raced her to gradually improving levels of performance in the MYC Cruiser Division II series. Though we all loved the E, Team Ermer found it's calling in the U 20. We've brought home more bullets and various pieces of hardware in the last few seasons with White Squall than we ever managed to do with the E-boat.
Don was truly a passionate sailor. In addition to the E-boat and U-20, there were a couple of windsurfers under the front porch or a Laser on the lift. A few years ago, when Phyllis wisely called a halt to windsurfing, he picked up an MC for afternoon solo sails. On Sunday afternoons, he'd usually drift over to Burrows scouting for a ride on an A-boat. And, when none of those would do, he could be found at Hoofers looking for a ride on Soma, my boat Moonglow or with anyone else who puIled up and appeared to have room in the cockpit and time for a ride. And, of course, in the wintertime Don turned his attentions to iceboating and 4LIYC.
Don retired in 2002 from the UW ME and IE Departments, where he was Proctor and Gamble Professor in Total Quality. He was quick to admit that he "flunked retirement," as his interest in mentoring students and their projects always drew him back to his office on campus or a meeting at the Terrace. Don had a gift of conversation and an engaging smile. Many of our crew members came from the ranks of his students or the men and women he'd meet at a party or on campus.
Don is survived by his wife Phyllis; daughter Ellen and her children; son Eric (Gayle) and their children; brother Kenneth (Becky); and sister-in-law Carla (Joseph) Moha. Memorials, in lieu of flowers, may be directed to the Treasury of Love Fund, Advent Lutheran Church; Habitat for Humanity of Madison; UW Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Building Fund; or a charity of your choice. --Don Sanford