Dave “Smedly” Peterson

On any athletic team in any sport there are individuals associated with the team in a singular way. Harvard crew will always have Harry Parker, University of Pennsylvania, Ted Nash, University of Washington, Fil Leanderson and Dick Erickson. PLU has Dave Peterson.

It is my honor to announce that the PLU Golden Oar Society is to be named for the one person to whom PLU Crew literally owes its existence.

Dave rowed for PLU from 1970 to 1974. He also coached from 1975 to 1985. He produced many fine crews during his eleven years of coaching, including two Western Sprints crews that I was proud to be part of.

But Dave’s contribution to PLU Crew transcends anything any of his crews achieved on the water.

In 1975 the PLU boathouse burned to the ground along with all of its oars, shells and a good deal of its history. This could have been the end of PLU crew. It wasn’t because Dave Peterson would not let it be the end. As Bob Kratzke wrote of Dave in his account of PLU rowing, 1975 – 1980:

“What has been easy to remember is the names of the coaches since there was only one. It is hard to overstate Dave Peterson’s commitment to PLU crew in those years. That first fall of 1975 it was he alone standing between the end of PLU rowing and the storied future which we now know to have taken place. He did this totally in the absence of any logic or money. In my four years there he oversaw construction projects, fund raising, coaching, conditioning, shell maintenance, and party coordinator.”

Dave was responsible for re-building PLU crew after the fire in 1975. But he was also responsible for building not just one, but two of PLU’s actual boathouses.

The replacement for the boathouse that burned was built during the winter of 1980 to 81. Dave helped with actual construction. What was to become the home for PLU rowing during the 1980’s and 90’s was built with Dave’s and a whole lot of other rower’s volunteer construction labor. I will never forget Dave teetering on the top of a fourteen foot wall carrying trusses from one end of the boathouse to the other.

The boathouse on Camp Murray bridged the gap from the early 80’s to the mid nineties. But in the early 90’s Camp Murray began making rumblings about evicting PLU and UPS. Once again Dave stepped in to save PLU rowing.

In 1996 PLU crew moved into one of the bays of the $1.2 million dollar boathouse it occupies today. It should come as no surprise that Dave served on the capital campaign committee that raised the money to construct that boathouse. None of us should ever forget that Dave contributes as much to the present success of PLU crew as he did to the re-building of PLU crew in the late 70’s.

Finally we come to tonight’s event. The LCAA was conceived as an organization dedicated to assuring the future of PLU Crew. It is known to most of you that Dave has been involved in the association. Let it now be known by all of you that in addition to saving PLU crew from extinction, Dave was on the steering committee that came up with the idea of this association as a means of assuring that PLU crew will never be extinct.

With that tribute in mind for my friend, my coach, the Godfather of my oldest son, it is my honor to proclaim the inauguration of the Dave Peterson Golden Oar Society where we the friends of PLU rowing can recognize those who like Dave have contributed in a singular way to PLU crew. Please everyone, raise your glass and join with me in recognition of an outstanding example of selfless leadership without which we would not be here today.

–Jim Schacht (in Honor of Dave “Smedly” Peterson, at the 50th Anniversary Meyer Cup Gala)

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