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Remembering Dorsey Parker
By P/C Joe Hellner (August 2009)

Earlier this year, we received the sad news that longtime member and P/C Dorsey Parker had passed over the bar. Many of us were able to go to the funeral home and reminisce with the family about the many adventures and good times associated with Belvedere Yacht Club. In 2003, Dorsey was voted by the membership as a Life Member in honor of his long exemplary membership, service as a club officer, and as 1974 Commodore. 1st Mate "Tim" was also very active with the Club and was a longtime member of the BELMATES. Their daughters Dayle and Terry grew up around the Club and Dayle served as 1970 Princess. Shortly after Dorsey's passing, the membership voted to make "Tim" Parker a Life Member.

I had the good fortune to meet Dorsey and many other Belvedere members and mates in the late 70's and recall they were a very close group dedicated to making the Club a pleasant place to spend time on the water and finding ways to create fun events and boat outings. Belvedere was a home away from home with a crowd there all weekend and heavily attended work parties one night a week. In those days, Belvedere excelled at being a working club because just about all the skills needed to build and maintain the facilities were present in the many tradesmen who were members. At that time, Dorsey, was one of four member plumbers and, as such, was fond of reminding the Club to make sure the waste pipes were clear for Opening Day or there would be a big back up. Dorsey would carefully explain how the slope of the pipe from the clubhouse to the pumping station is very shallow meaning the pipes are easy to clog. A few years ago, the Club forgot this lesson and had a big mess. Dorsey laughed and shook his head when he heard about it.

Joining in the 1960's, Dorsey was a hard worker for the club and was known to be a great do it yourself person. His many personal accomplishments included building a boat, a garage, and adding additions onto his house. Being good at just about any construction skill you could name, Dorsey had a hand as an organizer or worker on much of what the club and grounds look like today. He was part of the work parties that put the original bulkhead in and loved to tell the story of how they had to fix the job because the walls leaned over. When the members first built the bulkhead, they neglected to tie them back to anchors in the ground. My understanding from Dorsey is that the anchors were old telephone poles to which they attached tie rods. They were able to pull the bulkhead sections straight with the bucket end of a backhoe.

Dorsey loved oysters and hardly ever missed a bull and oyster roast. Dorsey also loved to give everyone a hard time. Like P/C Gary Bargar, you never knew when he was kidding. Just like Gary, Dorsey would tell you something you something outrageous with a straight face and watch your reaction. If you really fell for it, the rest of the Club would soon hear about it. He was often incredulous when he spotted someone "doing it wrong" and was happy to point out the error of their ways, often jumping in to help out. I will never forget Dorsey's reaction when a boat sank at the pier because the garboard drains were installed wrong. It was basically, "How could a person own a boat and not know their garboard drains are in wrong?" I know, most of you are now asking "What is a garboard drain?"

Dorsey was never shy at Club meetings and was one of the louder speakers, often challenging decisions that called for spending money when a little elbow grease and some second hand items would do the trick. Back in the 1980's, when Dorsey, P/C Mel Wagner, and P/Member Vernon Itner were there, you knew that a quiet peaceful meeting where you could catch up on your sleep was not in the cards. Keep in mind, drinking was allowed at meetings in those days. In later years, Dorsey and Tim switched from boating to motor homes. Many miles passed under their wheels as they travelled all over the country and wintered in warm climates. Dorsey would talk for hours about motor home trips taken and planned and served as Wagon Master for the Boumi Shrine campers. The latest Parker motor home was seen for many years parked near the mailbox at Belvedere Openings and major club events, complete with a Schnauzer dog or two inside happily yapping away (Schnauzers were a feature of their boating days as well). A plug was installed near this spot so Dorsey could get power and steps were added along that side of the building to make it easier for people in motor homes parked there. Newer members will recall Dorsey serving for many years on the Opening Day Parking Crew (maybe because he took up so much space in the lot?).

Club members loved to give it back to Dorsey when they could. My favorite is the plastic fork, by which he was repeatedly encouraged to go down to his boat and hunt for bad wood. Dorsey was known for his use of "Git Rot" to help keep his boat afloat and was relentless in his search for bad spots in the wood. Members would often check with Dorsey before throwing their plastic forks away. When lite beer came out, I recall that Dorsey was almost apologetic about drinking it because wasn't manly enough. Speaking of beer, whenever I am down at Belvedere on one of those beautiful lazy afternoons the Club, which the Club seems to have often, I will always think of Dorsey and late member Don Hueg, cold cans in hand, sitting on a bench looking out over Forked Creek, talking about the Orioles, telling stories, or deciding to go get some crabs (or maybe having another beer while Tim, Shirley Hueg, and Diana Langergren got the crabs).

The next time you sit on a pier bench or up on the hill with a couple of cold cans solving the problems of the world, please take a moment to remember Dorsey and all those who sat on those same benches before you. The best way we can honor them is to take good care of Belvedere Yacht Club so someday others may sit on those benches and enjoy a lazy afternoon as much as we do today.