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Rochester Sail and Power Squadron (RSPS) was formed more than 80 years ago.


How United States Power Squadrons Originated

In 1912 when the motor boat was just becoming reliable, and speeds of 8 to 10 knots were being achieved by the more powerful boats, a group of Boston Yacht Club members, feeling that there was a serious lack of knowledge of the proper handling of motor boats, instituted special activities for power boats, including instructional classes in their operation. Thus began the "Power Squadron of the Boston Yacht Club." Soon other eastern yacht clubs learned of the movement, found it to be attractive, and sought to join in the work. This led to meetings at the New York Yacht Club and the formation of the national organization in 1914. The original membership requirements laid great stress on the ability to handle boats properly. Also because of the war in Europe at the time, emphasis was placed on boat drills patterned after naval practice, on signaling, and on similar preparedness activities. The ability to pass an entrance examination was one of the earliest requirements.

By 1916, the membership had grown to some five hundred. The instruction program had taken on definite form and the fore-runner of the present-day Junior Navigation Course had been instituted. It encompassed only the bare essentials of today's course, and was given as a series of four lectures during the winter. Passing a special examination and attendance of four drills per year for three years made a member a Junior Navigator. Despite the limited lecture program, the examination included some of the subject matter of the present Navigator Course, which dates from 1917.

As the United States prepared to enter World War I, USPS organized an extensive series of classes, open to non-members as well as members, for the study of seamanship, signaling, navigation and naval procedures. This was the first of many civic services offered to the public by USPS through the years. Over 5000 men who attended those Squadron classes entered the armed forces, many of them receiving commissions partially on the basis of their USPS training.

With the return of peace, the boat drill requirement was dropped from the Squadrons' program and emphasis was shifted to instructional activities as a service to its members. The USPS constitution was re-drafted to implement the objectives, and the organization was reconstituted on a truly national basis. The development of USPS as it is known today had begun.

At the outset, progress was relatively slow, but the instruction program was carried on from year to year and the membership continued to grow. The old distinction between sail and power boating faded, and the squadrons began to appeal to all those interested in the handling of small boats. In the late 1920's, a thorough review of the entire instruction program for its members was undertaken and from this study emerged the work in the Advanced Grades, which made provision for the courses now known as Piloting, Advanced Piloting, Junior Navigation and Navigation. Through continuous development, USPS evolved a well-rounded educational program administered by its members who are some of the best informed and most enthusiastic boatmen in the country. United States Power Squadrons is a civilian body in every way and, although officers and members may wear uniforms, it is in no sense a military organization. Any boat, when it displays the Ensign of United States Power Squadrons is marked as being under the command of an individual who has earned the right to display this symbol.


Rochester Squadron Chartered 1938

The following was taken from an article written for Rochester Power Squadron
by Donald R. Messina.

The story of Rochester Squadron is the story of one man, F. Ritter Shumway. Back in 1934 Ritter was refueling at Montauk Point when a novice boater swung in close and asked "Which is the way to Block Island?" The dock attendant pointed and said "It's off there to the east, but with that big storm developing, I would advise you not to go." The reply was "I just bought this boat and the salesman said it would go anywhere, anytime." That incident alerted Ritter to the need for boating education. Shortly thereafter, upon coming to Rochester in the autumn of 1934 Ritter studied the USPS Piloting course by mail, took the exam by mail, and became an unattached member - the first in the Rochester area.

In January 1938 the Rochester Yacht Club (RYC) Commodore, Harold Field, and club member Bob Gordon attended the New York Boat Show and returned enthused about USPS from information learned at the show. They approached Ritter and asked him to teach the USPS course to RYC members. He gladly accepted. Thus, in February 1938 about 14 people enrolled in the first USPS Piloting course offered in Rochester. Ten passed the exam and under the guidance of their enthusiastic teacher, proceeded to establish the Rochester Power Squadron. Ritter was elected as the first commander (1938-1939). In 1939 Cdr Shumway participated in the organization of the Buffalo Power Squadron. Finally, after distinguishing himself in lesser offices, Cdr Shumway was elected Chief Commander of USPS in 1948.

Rochester Squadron Today

America's Boating Club in Rochester (formerly Rochester Sail and Power Squadron) celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2018. Today its total membership numbers slightly under 300 and includes full active members, family members and associate members. It has grown over the years both in number of members and scope of activities. In 1988 it was the third- largest squadron in USPS. Its membership grew to over 700 in years past and two other squadrons were formed from Rochester Squadron as membership increased. They were Iroquois Power Squadron chartered in 1961 and Red Jacket Power Squadron chartered in 1976.

During the past 70 years Rochester Squadron has taught the USPS Boating Course (originally called the Piloting Course) to many thousands of students. Through self-education, many hundreds if not thousands of advanced grade and elective courses have been completed by its members. The Advanced Grade Courses range from Seamanship through Piloting, Advanced Piloting, and Junior Navigation to Navigation. The Piloting courses stress navigation within sight of land, with emphasis on effects of tides and currents at the Advanced Piloting level, while the Navigation courses cover celestial navigation. The Navigation courses are equal in all respects to those taught by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Elective Courses include Weather, Sail, Marine Electronics, Engine Maintenance, Cruise Planning and Instructor Qualification. There are also a number of supplemental courses which may be self-taught.

Squadron members and their guests participate in many social events including the annual Founders' Day celebration, Safe Boating Week activities, Squadron Rendezvous, the summer picnic, and the Commanders' Ball. Many members participate in the combined business/social district conferences, USPS Governing Board Meetings and the USPS Annual Meeting. Members also participate in manning the squadron educational booths at various boat shows in the Rochester area.

Originally a male only organization, the squadron is now oriented to the family, and equal opportunities exist for both male and female members. Rochester Power Squadron is proud of its many members who contribute meritorious service given unselfishly in the interests of its organization.


Past Squadron Commanders

The men and women listed below all dedicated a minimum of one year of their life to leading, managing, and coaching the Rochester Sail and Power Squadron. To these people the Squadron is deeply indebted.

1938 - 1939 F. Ritter Shumway, AP

1939 - 1940 Lucius R. Gordon, AP

1940 - 1941 E. Phelps Langworthy

1941 Charles T. DePuy, AP

1941 - 1942 Harold L. Field, AP

1942 - 1944 Daniel M. Beach Jr., N

1944 - 1945 Lowell W. Shields

1945 -1945  Ezra A. Hale, N

1945 - 1947 J. Webb L. Sheehy, AP

1947 - 1948 A.P. Croucher

1948 - 1949 Lester S. Bartlett

1949 - 1950 Paul M. Tchinnis, N

1950 - 1951 Franklin J. McGee, JN

1951 - 1952 Kendall B. Castle, N

1952 - 1954 William W. Woodbury, JN

1954 - 1955 Albert L. Hartsig, N

1955 - 1956 Eino A. Jaskelainen, N

1956 - 1957 Donald S. Phelps, AP

1957 - 1958 Anthony F. Rizzo, JN

1958 - 1959 Leonard U. Michael, N

1959 - 1960 Kenneth F. Woehr, SN

1960 - 1961 Charles W. Stuehler, AP

1961 - 1962 Elmer E. Andrews, N

1962 - 1963 Adrian S. Leys, N

1963 - 1964 Robert H. McGlashan, SN

1964 – 1965 Gale F. Nadeau, N

1965 - 1966 John E. Taylor, N

1966 - 1967 William Leydecker, SN

1967 - 1968 Robert A. Helton, JN

1968 - 1969 Charles A. Deacon, N

1969 - 1970 Carl F. Smith, N

1970 – 1971 Harrison I. Grotzinger, AP

1971 - 1972 Christopher Adamski, N

1972 - 1973 Russell E. Garrison, N

1973 - 1974 Bertram R. Hershberg, N

1974 - 1975 Clayton J. Woodard, JN

1975 - 1976 David L. Cole, SN

1976 - 1977 Edward Stark, N

1977 - 1978 Joseph T. Arieno, SN

1978 - 1979 William J. Bennett, AP

1979 - 1980 Charles T. Feldschau, AP

1980 - 1981 C. Henry Birkett, AP

1981 - 1982 Ronald P. Premo, SN

1982 Roy M. Thurston, AP

1983 G. Robert Leavitt, AP

1984 Andrew A. Romano, Jr., SN

1985 Burt J. Conley, SN

1986 Richard W. Wambach, SN

1987 Edward R. Crego, AP

1988 Warren P. Ganter, SN

1989 William de C. Ravenell II, AP

1990 Peter R. Partilo, AP

1991 Gerald R. Toates, AP

1992 Martin A. Michael, AP

1993 William A. McCormick, AP

1993 Joseph L. Griffo, SN

1994 Joseph L. Griffo, SN

1995 Michael R. Kelly, AP

1996 George M. Hill, 3rd, AP

1997 Gerald L. Zambroski, P

1998 Gerald L. Zambroski, P

1999 Elaine C. McMahon, AP

2000 Franklin D' Aurizio, P

2001 Kenneth J. Mart, AP

2002 Terrill Macauley, AP

2003 James F. Haas, P

2004 Marvin C. Engle, AP

2005 Candace A. Shira, P 

2006 Thomas A. Kingston, SN

2007 Linda G. Haas, P

2008 Stephen D. Heffron, SN

2009 Richard P. Hannan, AP

2010 Arthur L. Cassidy, P

2011 Carol L. Lamendola, JN

2012 Richard E. Hibbs, SN

2013 John A. Zingo, P

2014-2016 Richard E. Hibbs, SN 

2017-2019 William A. Towner, AP

2020-2021 Norbert Koenig, P

2022-2023 Faye Towner

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