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.
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.
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.”