Past Commander Arthur K. Wallach of Great South Bay Power Squadron passed away unexpectedly on February 8, 2021, at his home in Lake Grove, NY.
Arthur “Art” Wallach joined Great South Bay Power Squadron in March 1998 and was a member for 23 consecutive years. After joining, he would quickly jump into our educational programs by taking and passing Boat Handling and Marine Navigation in 1999 and Advanced Marine Navigation in 2000. He would also go on to take Marine Electronics, Engine Maintenance, Weather, and Operations Training. Art earned Senior Member status in 2005, and Educational Proficiency in 2002. In addition, he later earned his Boat Operations Certification: Inland Navigator in 2020. He completed 6 seminars and was an active member of the educational department as a USPS Certified Instructor from 2016 forward, frequently teaching Boat Handling and Marine Navigation. Art was awarded 13 Merit Marks for his many years of service to our organization.
Art was always keen to introduce new events and new ideas, arguably the biggest of which was the Progressive dinner in which squadron members have a four-course dinner at 4 separate locations in one evening. Another such event was the P/C Warren Alber Excellence in Boat Handling On-Water Contest. Unfortunately, due to wind and current, the first run of it in 2017 ended up being a bit chaotic, but as persistent as Art was, we worked out the bugs and the 3rd Annual contest is scheduled for this August. As his year as Commander was coming to end, he had the squadron participate in the 24th Annal Patchogue Village Boat Parade ‘Hollywood Christmas’. Art was a leader, and he took bold action to improve Great South Bay. During his time as Administrative Officer and Commander, Art brought a plethora of new ideas that if documented here could easily run for 10 pages.
Our marketing has always been a weakness for our organization, and Art once again would try to correct that. His concept and implementation of the ‘elevator speech’ for members to use when describing America’s Boating Club was borrowed by many other squadrons. That relatively simple concept has resulted in many new members and helped many squadrons grow!
One of the greatest honors that a Past Commander can have is to be asked by the new commander to be their Advisor. A critical aid to the Commander as a steady hand and mentor the advisor’s role is not ceremonial, rather they are to ensure the new Commander stays on track and help them whenever needed. Art was bestowed this responsibility and was a great asset.
At the time of his untimely passing, Art was teaching Boat Handling, Introduction to Marine Navigation. He was serving as the Chairman of Advanced Grades in our Educational Department and was slated to be an Advisor to the incoming commander in 2021.
He leaves behind his wife Gale, sons Alex and Seth, more friends than can be counted, and many memories.
Art was a great person, a great Commander, and a great friend.
These two excerpts are from Art’s 1st and last Great South Spray articles as Commander in 2017/2018 explain why he joined, and how he felt about being Squadron Commander:
I took the Basic Boating class taught by P/C Barry Schwartz, AP in 1998. I took that class because I had bought a 16’ center console on a trailer so I could bass fish on freshwater lakes. I soon realized that towing the boat for hours to upstate NY or Pennsylvania when I lived a few miles from ocean made no sense. So one beautiful summer day I launched my 16’ center console out of Captree State Park Marina and somehow managed to travel near the Fire Island Lighthouse to get a close up view.
After drifting near the lighthouse, I had no anchor because I had a trolling motor in the bow so it was time to head back to the boat ramp. I had no navigational equipment on the boat. No electronics, no charts and no compass. I could see the Captree pier, but all my attempts to get there had me running into sand bars. It was like being trapped in a maze. That’s when it hit me. I had no clue how to get back.
Luckily, I headed west along Fire Island toward the Robert Moses Bridge, then I saw other boats going towards Captree and so I found the channel. After that experience I signed up for a boating class that I saw advertised. Since that very first class I’ve been hooked on boater education. That’s why I joined the Squadron and eventually started teaching Piloting.
It has been my honor to serve as Commander for the Great South Bay Power Squadron. The Great South Bay Power Squadron has a long-distinguished history of providing boater education as a public service. The challenge of how to continue that service, without disrespecting our traditions while trying to re-make the image of the organization into a modern boating club and make us relevant in today’s society was a mission I took to heart. It’s been said, “He that thinketh he leadeth, and hath no one following, is only taking a walk.”
Thank you for allowing me to lead and not just taking a walk.