We are deeply sorry to inform everyone that WBYC Sailor George Benz passed away February 1. George was an incredible supporter of the White Bear Yacht Club where he was a member from 1964 until his death. His support of the resurgence of the A Scow fleet at White Bear was inspiring and we will surely miss seeing him on the water in his magnificent pontoon boat.
George’s sailing career was mentioned in the book entitled “WBYC Its History” published in 1961. Some of you may know, our X Fleet was pretty hot during the 50’s. The first mention of George was his placing 9th in the 1952 ILYA X Championship as the 4th best WBYC sailor (1 Bob Holman, 7 Hod Irvine, 8 Tom Milton).
The records also show the 1952 X Inter-lake Regatta was won by Hod Irvine with George finishing in 2nd place. In 1953, George won the Club Championship and placed 7th in the ILYA Championship (Bob Holman was second). In 1954 George finished 4th in the ILYA Champs (Doug Holman was 2nd). A young sailor named Steve Johnson made his debut in the X Class in 1955 and that year, George was 6th.
Having sailed four ILYA Class X Championships, George had all his finishes in the top 10 and this was before the split into Junior and Senior fleets. This was an outstanding accomplishment for a young sailor!
George aged out of the X’s in 1955 right about the time the WBYC Class D Fleet was in decline. George’s older sister Nickie, was an outstanding sailor in her own right in the D boat. George began sailing quite a bit over on Minnetonka and crewed on the famous Pillsbury A-boats. John and son Jock Pillsbury were very fast A scow sailors, winning multiple ILYA Championships in the 1960’s and 1970’s with George onboard. George had some great stories about what it was like to get up on the bow of an A Scow in heavy wind and jibe the large symmetrical spinnaker. That took courage and a lot of trust that your skipper knew what to do.
Jock Pillsbury said George would come over every Saturday to Minnetonka and sail with Jock’s father, John and Jock on their A boat. After Jock got out of the Navy, George sailed with Jock on his A boat. Jock commented this week, “he was a very good crew-mate”.
In recent years we have the greatest memories of George and Karen hosting some wonderful sailing parties at their lakeside home. We will miss George’s voice and his comments on Channel 72 during our races, offering help when needed to the race committee by fetching marks and helping boats in distress.
George is survived by his sons, George and Theodore (Derek); daughters-in-law Stephanie and Elizabeth and 2 grandchildren, Theodore (Finn) and Hendry as well as a sister, Louise Benz Plank of Buffalo, WY.
Please keep the Benz family in your thoughts at this difficult time.
For more information about George’s incredible career, accomplishments, philanthropy, and for funeral information please Click Here.