I met Bob Lunsford and Blair Boggs almost three years ago on the docks at Lake Norman Yacht Club. One spring afternoon I was checking on my boat securing lines and saw two fellas a few boats down working on an old boat that I had never really paid any attention to or noticed. As a matter of fact, I thought it was one of the many boats that had been abandoned due to a slowing economy. It was a glorious day in March with the wind blowing about 10-15 knots, and I asked the two kind-looking gentlemen that were tinkering on this old blue boat why they were not out sailing. They explained that those days are over and that they could not get up the sails in breeze that strong. I said to them, “well, let’s go sailing!” They looked at each other and smiled and off we went. I will never forget the look on Bob’s face that I saw that first time we sailed together. I still remember his smile almost touching his ears on both sides. The wind and the weather were the most amazing combination you could ask for.
I soon learned of the weekly ritual that they had been keeping for so long every Wednesday afternoon. I thought to myself, “I want to give these guys this experience as often as I can for as long as I can.” Well, Bob took me up on that thought. I quickly learned that Bob was an amazing cook, and he very soon became a good friend of mine. We tried to meet every Wednesday with some of his old pals, Merrill, Blair and Robbie, for lunch or sailing. He was most certainly a creature of habit, ritual, and devotion. I heard from him every week for the next few years, always on Monday or Tuesday. I can count on my two hands the times I did not get a call early in the week planning that famous Wednesday outing. As much as some of the others and I tried to change it to another day or another period of time that was more convenient, Bob would always bring us back to his tried and true ritual. I got it changed only a few times over the years, but it always came back to lunch and sailing on Wednesday. He made a hell of a sandwich, brought us some good beer, and had the best smile and stories to keep us coming back.
Prior to coming to LNYC Bob sailed on a Pearson 26′ at Outrigger Yacht Club (presently Peninsula Yacht Club) and served as Commodore in the 70′s there. Bob fought a good fight, served his country well (Air Force & Air Force Reserves 62-67), worked one career job in Charlotte, and loved his wife Fran, his son Matt, and his Yacht Club (LNYC) where he served as Commodore in the 80′s. He kept the same blue sailboat since 1977 (pearson 28′). He bought it customized from the factory and took good care of it ‘till this past year when we sold it for a song to a lucky and presently smiling gentleman.
Bob was a longtime diabetic, which contributed to many of his health challenges. Two weeks ago he had his leg amputated due to complications from diabetes. His body had not been reacting well since, and he lost his battle yesterday at 8pm in Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte NC. I had received a call from Blair explaining that Bob was moved from ICU to Palliative care. I prepared to see him after dinner but decided to wait till today after breakfast. I got the email at 9pm. I have been kicking myself ever since.
Man, I will miss him. Not many people will call you every week telling you that they want to see your ugly face and fix you a meal. Talk about loyalty and friendship. For years I have been telling friends that I get along best with old geezers and kids and never much relate with those in between. In many ways it is true and I was not joking. We have so much to learn from the young and so much to learn from those that have been on this journey a long time before we were a thought in someone’s mind.
Here are some photos I took of him over some of our weekly sails together these last 3 years:
The following pictures tell the story of our typical experience after eating a wonderful lunch that Bob had prepared usually the day before our weekly sailing excursions. It was usually an amazing London broil sandwich with Vidalia onions on pumpernickel bread and a six pack of Budweiser.
He had to sit down from dock box to dock box each time we went to sail to rest his swollen legs. Afterward, Blair Boggs and I practically lifted Bob onto his beloved Pearson 28 once he made it to the boat. I was nervous every single time.
This ear to ear grin was my motivation to try to come when I could. He really came alive on the water and on that boat.
Sometimes the wind blew hard, and we would still go out. He did not scare easily.
Robert Lunsford, Blair Boggs, and their two other friends, Merrill Gattis and Robbie McClure, had been meeting for over a decade on Wednesdays for lunch or sailing whichever the weather suggested. This is Blair Boggs Below. He was the most loyal and faithful friend to Bob. Bob and Blair raced for years together on Blair’s Flying Scott in the highly active Flying Scott Fleet at LNYC. Thanks for being you Blair.
Blair and I would hoist the sails and start the engine, and Bob would steer us out of the slip.
Here are some of the images I took sailing on Bob’s boat:
After sailing and a terrifying process of helping Bob off the boat, Bob, Blair, and I would sit and talk about things we needed to do to the boat to maintain it and how his family was doing. He would tell us stories of his son, Matt, and Matt’s wife, Ginger. He adored both of them and cared for them deeply, as well as his grandkids.
Bob would tell us stories with great pride of when he was Commodore at LNYC and his frequent racing victories, as well as his many excellent cooking tips.
The day usually ended with a call from his son, Matt Lunsford, to make sure Bob was ok. We concluded with a plan for our attendance the following week.
I will miss my twice a week calls from Bob. He is the only person that called me every week looking forward to see me. It has taught me quite a deal about perseverance, dedication to the things and people you love.
I will never forget him and hate that I missed seeing him last night and that I did not get to say goodbye.
I trust he is in the hands of a loving God.
So long, friend!