Posted on Jun 26, 2019
By Susie Roe
It's a story about home and what it means to lose your home,
It's a story about being treated poorly, and  
it's a story about finding your place in the world.   
Citing these as the universal themes in the story of Joe Rantz and the amazing 1936 UW Men’s coxed eight, Daniel James Brown and Judy Rantz Willman spoke of the best-selling book, The Boys in the Boat
Judy, Joe's daughter, said that her father was banished as a child and abandoned as a teen, but was made whole when he found a home in the University of Washington Shell House with the members of his boat.   
The wooden shell house was built by the U.S. Navy for use as a seaplane hangar during World War I.  Located on a natural portage site used for millennia by the Duwamish Indians, it became George Pocock's legendary boat shop from 1919 until 1949 and was the birthplace of the UW rowing program that propelled men's and women's crew teams to national and international acclaim.  As panel moderator and sports writer Mike Gastineau noted, it is one of only two pieces of physical history remaining from the magical 1936 boat. The other is the boat itself- the Husky Clipper. 
After unearthing boxes of her father's Olympic Games memorabilia and listening to his stories, Judy asked neighbor and author Dan Brown if the story of the team and their unexpected win over the German team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics would make a good book.  Brown told us he was captivated when he heard Joe Rantz talk of the importance of his teammates in his life with tears in his eyes. The book tells of overcoming great obstacles, the bonds within a successful team, and the truth that a team working together is greater than the individuals.  Former UW rower Melanie Barstow said the boys in the 1936 boat set an unparalleled standard and that, as a student athlete, she was a direct descendant of their legacy who worked to meet their standard. 
Mike Gastineau asked the panelists to read their favorite paragraphs from the book.  Melanie chose to read about the building itself; Judy about the actual race; and Dan about his visit to Berlin. As he viewed the course from Hitler's box, he wondered whether Hitler had a premonition that those same young men and thousands like them, young and strong and united as a team, would sweep across Europe in the next decade, defeating the Germans once again.
Nicole Klein introduced the shell house and the panel with fun facts and a video made about the shell house.  
To begin President Cindy's last meeting, we sang What a Wonderful World accompanied by Freeman Fong on piano and Arnie Ness on trumpet in his best Louie Armstrong style.  Jaime Mendez gave a rousing inspiration on the meaning of a successful team.  Microphone handlers Todd Summerfelt and Sarah Weaver introduced our guests including Chuck Alm, a member of the UW 1958 boat - the first to beat the Russians in Moscow. 
Liz Powell and RE/MAX generously donated a dinner for two at Canlis as a reward for recruiting new members.  Taylor Shimizu was the lucky winner.
Finally, in the Seattle 4 tradition, past presidents gathered on stage to literally pass the gavel to our new and incoming president, Kim Moore.
This week's Totem was written by Susie Roe  
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