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History of the Chesapeake Commodores Club

In the early part of the 1960’s several past commodores from yacht clubs around the Chesapeake Bay began talking about the possibility of forming a club that would be made up of past commodores from yacht clubs around the bay.

The idea was talked about from time to time with no solid action taken. In early 1965, while attending an affair at North East River Yacht Club, Charley Johnson and William “Bill” Geckle discussed the issue again. From this meeting an acting committee was formed. The committee consisted of Bill Geckle of Middle River Boat Club as acting chairman and William Harbaugh of Eastern Yacht Club as acting secretary. In the need of more committee positions, John Mummert of Ventnor Yacht Club and Melvin Bruchey of Crescent Boat Club were asked to serve as speakers.

The first letter went out on January 22, 1965 to various yacht clubs around the bay. This letter was a call for all past commodores to attend a meeting to discuss forming a Past Commodores Club. A second letter followed on January 27, 1965. On April 27, 1965 the first meeting of the acting committee was called to order. Fifteen P/C’s from nine clubs were in attendance at the round table discussion. Following this meeting a third letter was mailed to the various clubs. Included in this meeting were the highlights of the meeting and a call for all past commodores to attend the next meeting scheduled for May 25, 1965.

At this meeting there was a good turn out and a motion was made and carried that they would nominate and vote on one office at a time. A motion was made and carried that there should be not more than one officer from any one club. The following members were elected to office:

Commodore William D. Harbaugh Eastern Yacht Club
Vice Commodore Walter Bryan Maryland Yacht Club
Rear Commodore George Graff North East River Yacht Club
Fleet Captain William Geckle Middle River Boat Club
Secretary Harry Rogers Crescent Boat Club
Treasurer Walter Turner Kent Island Yacht Club
Entertainment Nelson Lyle West River Yacht Club

Perhaps there was good reason for the minutes being brief. Seemingly there were no constitution and by-laws, or ground rules to follow. Therefore, nominations were made from the floor. Rumor has it that several names were placed in nomination for Commodore. This created a very spirited discussion and election. William D. Harbaugh became Commodore by a majority of one vote. According to the comments of the April 27, 1965 meeting, the founders wanted to form a club to promote good fellowship and friendship and that is included in Article II of the current By-Laws of the CCC. The minutes also refer to supplying entertainment and recreation for the membership. Today we have the Commodore’s Ball which is a full weekend affair, as well as the Bull and Oyster Roast and Lawn Party (aka Crab Feast). Yes, we have come a long way with just 15 members on May 25, 1965 to a membership of approximately 500 as of January 2010.

P/C Barney Borgman