Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Robert L. Garland - Yacht Broker (Jan 22, 1908 - Dec 22, 2009 )

Robert Garland and Mitch Gibbons-Neff in 2001

As a follow up to my previous posting about Robert Garland's boat Turtle, here's a little bit of history regarding Bob. Robert Lee Garland joined Sparkman & Stephens in 1930 as a yacht broker. By 1934 he was a shareholder and the following year was made a director and based on what I can read in the corporate minute books it was due to "exemplary hard work". I can also see from the corporate record that in 1934 he was given a base salary of $18 per week plus commissions.

His career at Sparkman & Stephens was only interrupted by World War II, where he attained the rank of Lt. Commander with the Navy and worked on the design and construction of fast torpedo boats. After the war he returned to Sparkman & Stephens. By 1978 Bob was appointed President of the firm. He retired in 1994.

An avid Shields (S&S design #1720) sailor for over 30 years, he affectionately earned the nickname of "the Silver Fox". In addition Bob sailed all of the great S&S boats of the time: Baruna, Windigo, Northern Light, and Argyll to name but a few.

A resident of Oyster Bay, Long Island, Bob was a member of various clubs: New York Yacht Club, Seawanhaka Yacht Club, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, Cruising Club of America and the Storm Trysail Club.

Bob passed away in 2009 at the age of 101, outliving Olin Stephens by a little over a year.

There is a great story about Bob and Mitch Gibbons-Neff. Apparently in 1977 Mitch came into the office looking for a job as a yacht broker (with little experience). He met with Bob Garland. Bob told Mitch he was sorry but there wasn't a place for him at Sparkman & Stephens. As they left Bob's office Mitch asked Bob who sat in the desk adjacent to his office to which Bob said "No one, it's unoccupied". Story has it that Mitch pointed to the desk and replied "I'll see you tomorrow". Mitch would succeed Bob as company President years later.

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