Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bill Booth Has Passed Away

Our Past Commodore of 2004, Bill (Constance) Booth died November 11 with most of his family around him and talking boats up to the last.

It was in January of 2004 just 2 weeks after the Commodore's Ball that Bill, suffered an aortic aneurism. Even though Bill was paralyzed from that point forward, as Commodore, he served in spirit with the help of many.

When I heard of Bill's death today, I had the chance to listen to more Bill stories from his children. It was in 1994 that he and Pat moved from Michigan to Anacortes, because he fell in love with the islands and the sailing. He loved the Anacortes Yacht Club. As he said, "it's a sailor's yacht club". Bill loved racing a Flying Scott on the Great Lakes and was one of the original skippers in the Pig-n-a-Poke Lido Fleet. With the rattiest sails he was always competitive and I for one seemed to always know where he was on the course by the smell of his ever burning cigarettes. Makes me realize he must have always been going to weather up wind and to weather of me… a good place for him, and bad spot for me. After some time in the Lidos he bought Flying Cloud and he and his teenage sons along with a gaggle of their friends, kicked butt on the PHRF course.

Bill was a brilliant engineer in his own right. While at Rockwell he and a team of 5 engineers invented the first antilock braking system and it was subsequently installed on Paccar trucks. They still have a prototype of the first roller furler system, designed in his "doodling time" and machined by Bill in his garage in the early 70's. He missed getting to the patented office ahead of the competitor by only 3 days!

However, it was his spirit I remember him for. He was a salty dog and was a great competitor who loved being on the water. For the 2005 Tulip Regatta, the boys hoisted him from his wheel chair onto Flying Cloud, strapped him in on one side of the helm, made sure he had his cigarettes (wind vane) and with him at the helm barking, set about to take 2nd place in their division that year.

Yes, BiIl was a sailor's sailor. I have it from reliable sources that young Bill Jr. was conceived in 1981 on a sail bag before one of the 12 Port Huron to Mackinac races Bill skippered. He was loved for his kindness and crusty ways by many.

His wife, Pat and all the family have always been thankful for all that what AYC and its membership did for Bill during his illness and wish to say thanks once again. Memorial services have yet to be determined but will be announced ASAP.

Bill my friend, many will pass a whiskey across their lips in memory of you and I'll think of you whenever someone with a cigarette gets to windward ... and smile to myself ... Sail on my friend.

Pat Barrett
Acting Commodore 2004
Past Commodore 2005

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