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The Rusty Callow Goes Back Home

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Ahead of the sad news of Stan Pocock’s passing, there was  some good news for his contemporary Rusty Callow, when the boat that bore his name was removed from its perch on the ceiling of the Valley Tavern and into the loving hands of his granddaughter Kelly.


The celebration at Valley Tavern in Chmacum (courtesy Michele Olsen)


Eric and Kerry Gross (Rusty’s granddaughter) courtesy Michele Olsen

The Story

Last year, Eric Gross, of Portland, Oregon, was visiting his fraternity brothers at a gathering in Chimacum. The group decided to go to the Valley Tavern in Port Hadlock to watch a football game where he happened to look up and notice the bow of the Russell S Callow hanging from the ceiling. As fate would have it, Russell S Callow, or Rusty, was the grandfather of Eric’s wife, Kerry Ann, and the UW Husky crew coach for nearly 25 years. Eric asked the owner, Chuck, about the boat which led him to the RIRSC. Eric then contacted the club and inquired if the bow could become a part of his wife’s family once again and offered to make a very generous donation to the club. We said, “Of course!”. On Friday evening, December 12, 2014, about 25 members of the Rat family gathered at the Valley Tavern to celebrate the transfer of the bow to its new home. After drinks and fish and chips (it was fish fry night), Rats joined Eric and Kerry in taking the bow down from the ceiling accompanied by Chuck on bugle. It was a joyous occasion for all and the Rats are grateful for Eric’s donation and that the Russell S Callow is where it belongs.


Photo courtesy Katie Franco

(More to come)

The Backstory RUSSELL S. CALLOW. From: “Guy Harper” Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003

I notice that you will raise the RUSSELL S. CALLOW shell into the Public House on Monday, November 3rd, at 0700 hours. I thought it may be interesting to you and your fellow rowers to know a little bit about Rusty Callow so that you could make a ceremony of the “raising” as well as relating a little history concerning Rusty.

Here are some interesting facts: Rusty Callow was Student Body president of the U of Washington in 1915 and also captain of the crew while rowing there. He was hired to coach the UW crew after Ed Leader, left for Yale University. Rusty knew that George and Dick Pocock had built a couple of shells earlier so Rusty asked George if he could make another one. In 1922 George, at that time, was working for the Boeing Company, building wood and cloth wings, but after some publicity from the local newspapers, he left Boeing to build rowing shells.

Rusty started to win races in the Pocock built shells and soon other coaches were filling the Pocock order books. Since Rusty was not too experienced about rowing at the start of his career, he had all the oarsmen write a little essay on the subject of rowing technique, as they understood it, including the commands to use and how they responded to them. Rusty used some of this information in his coaching and went on to win many local and national races in the coming years.

Moving ahead to the 1950’s, Rusty became the crew coach for Navy and became a popular figure at the Academy. After winning only one race in Page 1 of 3Page 2 of 31951, his varsity crew went unbeaten in 1952, 1953, and 1954. The 1952 eight was the U.S. Olympic crew and rowed to claim a gold medal in Helsinki. During those three seasons, the Navy “admirals” won 23 consecutive collegiate races (29 overall) and three straight IRA Varsity Eight Championships.

I speak from first hand experience regarding this era as I was stroke of the UW crew that lost to that Navy crew in the 1952 Olympic time trials. Navy went on to win the gold metal in the Games of that year as stated above.

Our 1952 crew still remembers those rowing years at the UW and also the current years, rowing as the Ancient Mariners. You folks are so fortunate to have a great group of members. Every turnout and race will be a wonderful memory that each rower mentally files away and that can be relived at a later date.

So keep on with the good work.

Some of the above data was from Stan Pocock’s book Way Enough, other information was from a Navy web site. I could not find any information on the Russell S. Callow shell, but maybe the date of manufacture and a call to Stan Pocock would reveal some history. It was probably used by the UW as I cannot imagine the shell being shipped back from Naval Academy to Seattle.In any event, the above is a great bit of history by a fellow who played a very big part in the sport of rowing.

It’s great that your crews are keeping the spirit alive.

Good luck to you all.

Guy Harper, Seattle

Buckley adds: The RUSSELL S. CALLOW is pictured (and described by Guy Harper) as we first saw it in 2001. We got it from Lake Oswego, OR in a deal arranged for us by Guy and the Ancient Mariners. At the time the boat needs some repair and the name “RUSSELL S. CALLOW” was barely visible under a coat of glass and varnish. Last winter we repaired the rudder, stem and a frame and refinished the hull and Steve Chapin re-painted the name. We rowed the RUSSEL S. CALLOW all summer. You can see a picture of it now in the Foundation yard. It turns out, that with the glassed hull, it’s pretty durable, and therefore a good candidate for hoisting into the Public House rafters.

Rusty Callow

Photo courtesy Jim Buckley

UPDATE 2/10/14

Buckley forwarded this message from Eric:

finished re-finishing the hull and hung her up over the weekend.  Thought you might be interested in seeing the finished product.  We continue to be thankful for your willingness to share.  Kerry and I hope you would stop by for a visit next time you are in town for a regatta.



UPDATE 4/25/23

Al MacKenzie sent Guy Harper this excellent video of Navy's "Great Eight" an incredible rags-to-riches story about how second year coach Rusty Callow turned Navy from a laughing stock into 1952 gold medalists at Helsinki.

Guy (UW stroke) and his freshman crew beat Navy (1951 nationals) in the Quinault,

a Rat Island boat for many years. A long video but worth the watch.


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