When Mary joined America’s Boating Club ATLANTA (ABCA) it quickly became apparent that her past experience with other organizations was going to be a valuable asset.
Mary’s focus was on boating safety, and she loved to do “Vessel Safety Exams” (VSE’s). A VSE is a free all over check of any kind of boat under 50 feet in length, to make sure it has all the safety equipment required by the Department of Natural Resources. Mary would check power boats, sailboats, kayaks and canoes to make sure they were in compliance and give the owner their Vessel Safety Check decal for the current year. Most years Mary had a high number of VSE’s, and some years she did more VSE’s than anyone else in the Club.
Mary also loved to travel. She attended every National Meeting and District Conference. She had a lot of friends throughout America’s Boating Club and would use the meetings to visit with them and “catch up”. She also went on several America’s Boating Club cruises where she made new friends.
In 2015 Mary became our Administrative Officer. She was responsible for all things internal to the Club. She planned Executive Committee and General Membership Meetings where she had to plan a speaker for each meeting. She was responsible for our holiday party. She organized monthly raft ups during boating season. She started the “Caring Committee” where a group of members would notify the Club if a member was ill or had suffered a loss of a family member. They are also responsible for sending cards to members with an illness or death in the family.
The most active committees under Mary at this time were Membership Recruiting and Acquisition, Membership Involvement and Membership Retention. America’s Boating Club faces many challenges to acquire new members and keep existing members. In 2015 ABCA increased their membership by 50 members, mainly because Mary did a good job with her membership committees.
Mary then went on to become our Club’s Executive Officer in 2016. As XO she was the Commander’s “right hand” and was responsible for outreach activities. ABCA had several civic service events while Mary was XO – Calvary Kids Day on the Lake, holiday fund raising and the Atlanta Boat Show to name a few. The committee that was most important to her, however, was the Vessel Safety Committee. This committee flourished under Mary, was well organized, well-staffed and completed more Vessel Safety Checks in 2016 than they ever had before. Mary herself completed more than 50 Vessel Safety Checks that year.
By 2017 Mary was ready to become the Club’s Commander and run the entire Atlanta organization. She presided over all Executive Committee and General Membership Meetings. She continued to support the strong membership committees, the Caring Committee and the Vessel Safety Committee where she had spent so much of her time and effort. She represented ABCA at our National and District Conferences. She interfaced with other organizations like NAMEPA, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, NASBLA and the National Safe Boating Council. She strengthened our relationship with the University Yacht Club (where she was also a member) on Lake Lanier, GA. Mary did have to take 2 months off during her Commandership, due to problems with her back. She did, however, continue to do Vessel Safety Checks later in the year and managed to complete 35 checks by the end of 2017.
After completing her year of Commandership Mary became the Chairman of the Nominating Committee. Her responsibility was to lead the committee in selecting the officers and committee chairs to serve in 2018. The Nominating Committee completed a slate of officers and committee chairs for the Club in 2018, and Mary could finally “relax”. Her health continued to deteriorate. In February 2019 she fell ill with an infection in her chest and had to be hospitalized and put on a respirator. She died in March 2019, when it became evident that she was not going to recover from the chest infection.
Mary’s legacy to America’s Boating Club ATLANTA is our strong Vessel Safety Check program. She took an average committee and made it into a strong and active group dedicated to boating safety. We like to think that she made a difference in the lives of many boaters on Lake Lanier because she taught them what boating safety really means.
Barbara B. Tyson, Commander
America’s Boating Club ATLANTA
October 19, 2019
*AP stands for Advanced Pilot. Advanced Piloting was the highest level of boating education that Mary completed with America’s Boating Club.
*P/C stands for Past Commander.