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Atwood Yacht club members celebrate platinum anniversary
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By Carol McIntire
Twelve years after Atwood Lake was built in 1936, a group of citizens interested in the development of a boating club on the lake saw their dream come true with the incorporation of The Atwood Yacht Club Jan. 28, 1948.
Seventy-five years later, on June 17, 2023, nearly 100 members gathered in the ballroom of the club on the south side of Atwood Lake to celebrate the club’s platinum anniversary, share memories, laughs and plans for the future.
Twelve past commodores attended the session, three of whom participated in the membership guest panel. The oldest living past commodore, Gary Spahr of Dellroy (1968) was scheduled to attend, but at the last minute, was not able to participate due to health reasons.
The guest panel included past commodores Danny Detchon (2010), Jon Poulson (2021) and the first woman commodore, Linda Kamerer (2015), along with members JoLane Elson and Dominick Pagilalunga.
Rear Commodore John Richard led the discussion.
All recalled the year they joined the yacht club, with Detchon dating back to 1977.
“I just live down the lake,” he said. “My neighbors were members, and their parents were members, so it was just natural that I join as well,” he said.
Pagilalunga said he joined because of Detchon. “I saw the majesty of sailing,” he said.
Several said the sailing program and the junior sailing program were enticements for their membership, including Kamerer, who broke the barrier as the first female commodore. 2023 commodore Sean Hinkle selected Amy Weegar to follow as commodore and will be only the second woman to hold the position.
Kamerer laughed when she recalled the reason for her membership.
“A friend of mine had a sailing scot. When he died, I purchased the boat, but couldn’t get a dock spot on Atwood. Someone told me if I joined the yacht club, I could get a dock. Here I am. She now owns a 34-foot condo on the lake and is very active in the junior sailing program.
Elson, who has held a membership since 1958 along with her husband, Gus, laughed when she said they joined because Gus’ father, who was a member, told them, “You can’t keep riding on my membership.”
“Atwood Yacht Club is the heart of this reservoir of water,” noted Pagilalunga. “From west to east, this is where it all revolves. We are all attracted to the freedom that comes with being on the water.”
Detchon smiled and shook his head when he recalled weekend gambling trips sponsored by the club and themed dress up social events at the club. He recalled a murder mystery play written by member Jan H. Kennedy.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said.
Pagilalunga pointed to the ability of the club’s board of directors to keep finding new ways to rejuvenate the club as a main reason for its success over the last 75 years.
“It’s the best kept secret in Ohio,” said Poulson.
Elson recalled years of Harvest Moon Regattas on the lake. In the early days of the regattas, she said members were afforded the opportunity to bring their own campers and camp at the yacht club during the regatta.
The Harvest Moon Regatta was born in September 1951, when the club became a member of the Ohio Inter-Club Yachting Association (OICYA). The club hosted the OICYA seventh and 10th anniversary regattas in 1952 and 1955.
Today, sailing remains a major motivator for many members, and they come from a diverse background.
“The beautiful thing is everyone becomes family,” Detchon said. “Family is why I’m here. We are all friends…all family.”
The late Frank Cope, a Carroll County Common Pleas judge, launched the first sailboat, a 21-foot cat rig, on Atwood Lake in 1939. Mrs. Cope and Lee Stafford were the crew. At that time, the lake extended from the dam to what now is approximately the northern edge of Sunset Valley, according to the Atwood Yacht Club History.
The first officers were Cope, commodore, Dr. L.D. Hart, vice president, and Coe Smith, secretary/treasurer. Trustees included Richard James, Gilbert Harsh, Robert Mallarnee, Henry Partridge, Sam Ryan and Otto Oyler.
A nine-acre tract of land was leased from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District April 1, 1948. The club sits in the same location today.
One hundred shares of stock were sold at $100 each. With that $10,000 and many contributions of labor, materials and equipment, the clubhouse was constructed. The facility officially opened with a dance Nov. 20, 1948.
Many modifications, renovations and additions have taken place over the years with the most recent remodel being completed earlier this year.
During its existence, the importance of the AYC Ladies Auxiliary has been of the utmost importance. Through the efforts of fundraisers and events, many improvements have bene made to the club house and pool house.
By note of the annual meetings in 1993 and 1994, the active membership was increased to 400, which eliminated a waiting list for new members.
The yacht club operated a lounge which served liquor but did not have a liquor permit from the state. In order to meet the legal requirements for the operation of the lounge, a club’s board of trustees voted to seek a micro-brewery permit. The Main Sail Brewery was established in 1994 and completed in 1995. Curt Adams of Carrollton, who recently passed away, served as brew master for 20 years. He stepped down from the position two years ago. At that time, John Hunker took over the position. He and Sean Hinkle, the current commander, made some changes to the brewery, began naming the beers and expanded the selection. Today six beers are on tap on the lounge.
The private club offers a one-year associate membership, social membership and active membership. Active membership gives members reciprocity with over 150 yacht clubs worldwide.
For information on membership, visit the Atwood Yacht Club website, www.atwoodyachtclub. com and click on the membership tab.
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