It is with great sadness that we share with you the news that a dear friend of the White Bear Lake sailing community, Fletcher Driscoll, passed away March 8, 2023.
Fletcher may be best known to many of you as the man who brought back A scow racing to White Bear Lake. In 2001, Fletcher bought his first Class A Scow. He wanted a boat big enough that his extended family of 18 could enjoy sailing together. He felt that one boat was lonely, so he purchased two more and in June of 2004 the three A-boats began racing on White Bear after more than a 70-year hiatus. Excitement for A-boat sailing spread quickly through WBYC sailors as a result of his magnificent vision and generosity. There were at times as many as ten A boats moored at his dock, making WBL the largest active A Fleet anywhere. Every Monday evening, he and his wife Bev welcomed more than 60 sailors to their property to race these sailboats, trade tales of their adventures and learn from each other. Everyone was welcome, from kids to old timers and newcomers. He built it, and we came.
In recognition of this spectacular effort, Fletcher was awarded the US Sailing One Design – John H. Gardiner, Jr. Trophy for Service award in 2012. Following that, in 2015, the Inland Lake Yachting Association recognized Fletcher as a Hero & Legend at the Inland Championship. He was a tireless volunteer for the association as well, serving on the ILYA Foundation Committee for the past 15 years.
Fletcher started sailing on White Bear Lake at 10 years old crewing on an X boat skippered by Nicky Benz, a top sailor and sister to longtime WBYC sailor and member George Benz. At the age of 12, he bought a Y boat and competed against Alex (Ordway) Bjorklund for Championship honors. He didn’t only enjoy sailing the boats, but also enjoyed building and repairing them. He built wood boats back in the 1960s and in more recent years, fostered many aspiring woodworkers at his workshop in The Barn, where numerous vintage scows were restored to their original glory.
Fletcher was meaningfully involved in so many aspects of community life. We are indebted to him and his wife Bev for their immense generosity and unwavering commitment to our sailing community on our beloved lake. We will miss his presence on and off the water. He will be remembered for his kind heart, love of conversation, and his dedication to the sport he loved.