Ad Astra – Stan Pocock ’46

Stan Pocock ’46 passed Ad Astra on December 15, 2014

The below article was published by the Seattle PI. Stan was a proud Fiji who was the speaker at just a few months ago at our Monthly Graduate Luncheon.

Stan Pocock speaks to youth rowers in 2011 at the Pocock Rowing Center Junior Banquet. (Courtesy photo: Matthew Lacey/George Pocock Rowing Foundation)
Stan Pocock speaks to youth rowers in 2011 at the Pocock Rowing Center Junior Banquet. (Courtesy photo: Matthew Lacey/George Pocock Rowing Foundation)

The Pocock name is synonymous with rowing in the Pacific Northwest, and Stan Pocock was just as integral to the sport as his father, George.

Stan Pocock built fine racing shells and made countless technical innovations. He led championship crews at the University of Washington. He brought love and passion to the local rowing community.
He died Monday at the age of 91.

“Stan was still coming down to the shellhouse and connecting with our students in his 90s, telling guys after a practice, ‘You got to want it!’” UW men’s rowing coach Michael Callahan said in a statement. “He was always giving back to something he cared about and loved. He was a teacher, boat builder, leader and a great grandfather to many of us here. Stan Pocock was a champion of Washington rowing and the greater rowing community.”

Born Oct. 11, 1923, in Seattle, Pocock was immersed in the world of rowing from the start. He apprenticed under his father, George Pocock, a pioneer in shell-building and founder of Everett’s Pocock Racing Shells.

George Pocock, Stan’s father, is shown in this photo cutout putting the finishing touches on Navy’s Olympic shell Jan. 9, 1932. (Seattle P-I archives)
George Pocock, Stan’s father, is shown in this photo cutout putting the finishing touches on Navy’s Olympic shell Jan. 9, 1932. (Seattle P-I archives)

Stan Pocock attended UW and of course joined the school’s storied rowing team. In 1947, he was a member of a varsity eight that took third place at the national championships, and remained on the team as a coach after earning an engineering degree.

After coaching UW freshmen and lightweights from 1948 to 1955, Pocock founded Seattle’s Lake Washington Rowing Club in 1957 and soon became its first head coach. Meanwhile, he coached U.S. Olympic crews that won gold in 1956, ’60 and ’64.

At the same time, Pocock continued working with his father and uncle, Dick, at their shell-making company as a designer and builder. Pocock Racing Shells built all the U.S. Olympic boats from 1948 to ’60, and remains the preeminent shell manufacturer in the United States.

Stan Pocock’s many technical innovations to the sport include the first-ever fiberglass shell in 1956, the first oarlock spacers in 1968, the first composite oar in 1973, the first molded seat top in 1976, and the first boat without support ribs in 1980.

When his father died in 1976, Stan Pocock took over as president of Pocock Racing Shells and continued in that role until he sold the company in 1985. He remained intimately connected to the company and the local rowing community, founding the George Pocock Rowing Foundation in 1984.

“Stan was a gifted engineer, a coach with an unparalleled eye, and a fine leader,” his successors at the company, Bill and John Tytus, wrote in a statement. “It’s not exaggeration to say that the rowing landscape in the U.S. wouldn’t look anything like it does today without Stan Pocock.”

Pocock was given USRowing’s lifetime-achievement award, the Medal of Honor, in November 2012 for his contributions to the sport. This past October at the UW’s Hall of Fame banquet, the university presented him with the Dr. Don H. Palmer Award, the most prestigious award given by the Big W Club.

Pocock is survived by his wife, Suzanne; his sister, Patty Van Mason; his daughter, Sue Saul; and his step-children, Lynne Chun and Robert Graves. A memorial service is planned for Jan. 3, 2015, at the Pocock Rowing Center in Seattle, though details have not yet been finalized. Updates are available at PocockFoundation.org.

“For decades Stan Pocock has been an important part of Washington rowing,” Bob Ernst, UW’s director of rowing and head women’s coach, said in a statement. “His passing is a tremendous loss for the entire Northwest rowing community.”

December 2014 Luncheon – 40 years with the Brothers Four, Mark Pearson ’69

Pearson, Mark

Mark Pearson ’69

Mark Pearson '69 at December Luncheon
Mark Pearson ’69 at December Luncheon

Mark Pearson was a talented athlete, musician, and student with his eye to following in his father’s steps to become a doctor when he left Spokane to join Phi Gamma Delta in the Fall of 1965. By the Fall of 1968, he was an intramural star, a student who had met his match with Organic Chemistry, and facing an offer to become a member of an internationally recognized folk singing group — the Brothers Four.

Bob Burmeister '70 and Dana Halvorson '70
Bob Burmeister ’70 and Dana Halvorson ’70

A quick review of the Brothers Four. The original group were four folk singing Fijis who reportedly got “punked” by a fellow UW fraternity to show up at a non-existent audition for a local Seattle music club. Fortunately the club did give them an audition, and they became a stage success in Seattle.

The original Brothers Four of John Paine ’59, Dick Foley ’61, Bob Flick ’60, and Mike Kirkland ’61 later piled into Flick’s station wagon and headed to audition for the bigtime. In 1959 the big time for folk music on the West Coast was the Hungry I in San Francisco. Rolling into Berkley, the guys bunked down at the Cal Fiji House. They auditioned at the Hungy I, didn’t get a booking, left their contact phone number for the Cal Fiji House, and went back to Berkley to plan their next move. Much to their fortune, the booked group was a “no show”, the club called the Cal Fiji House, the guys performed that night, and the rest is history.

Fortune shined on the group, because an agent was in the audience and he quickly signed them to a contract, and three months later they had an international hit and were performing for President Kennedy’s Inauguration.

Mark Pearson '69
Mark Pearson ’69

In November of 1968, Mike Kirkland ’61 had decided to leave the group.  As the story goes, Mike first invited his discovery, John Denver, to become his replacement.  John did not leap on the offer, and in December the call was made to the Sigma Tau house to invite Mark Pearson ’69 to replace Mike in the group.  Mark accepted, made a whirlwind trip to New York to be introduced as the replacement member of the group, and off they went to perform.  As the story goes, in January, John Denver called to say he had thought it over, and he was interested in being Kirkland’s replacement in the group.

Pearson banjo-nowThe Brothers Four became an instant “coming of age” music group in Japan, and their folk singing has continued to have a wide following.  The group recently completed their 52nd tour in Japan.

Thanks to Mark for his fun review of Brothers Four history, but also for bringing his guitar and sharing a few songs. The luncheon was well attended by members of the classes — ’68, 69, ’70, ’71, and 72.

 

 

 

 

Frank Childers '70 and "Bucky" Buckholz '69

Frank Childers ’70 and “Bucky” Buckholz ’69

 

Jim Winquist '70 introducing Mark Pearson '69
Mike Doyle ’68 and Mike Dwyer ’69

 

Jim Winquist '70 introducing Mark Pearson '69
Jim Winquist ’70 introducing Mark Pearson ’69

 

L to R: Chuck Ekber '68, Mike Doyle '68, George Opsahl '69, Gary Craig '61, Dana Halvorson '70, Doug Leland '72, Gary Ayars '72, and
L to R: Chuck Ekber ’68, Mike Doyle ’68, George Opsahl ’69, Gary Craig ’61, Dana Halvorson ’70, Doug Leland ’72, Gary Ayars ’72, and

 

John Buller '69, Mark Pearson '69, and Jim Maloof '68
John Buller ’69, Mark Pearson ’69, and Jim Maloof ’68