The Conserver family gathered at the Hilton Nashville Airport Hotel from April 27-May 1, 2022, for their ninth reunion. For five days shipmates reconnected, met new members of the family, and generally had a great time enjoying all that Nashville has to offer.
A total of 33 attended; 21 members and 12 guests. Sadly, it was the lowest attendance we have ever had. That didn’t stop everyone from having a great time. Thank you to my fellow reunion committee members: Thayes Hower, Romondo Davis, and Keith Hansen, and all others who lent a hand.
Conserver reunions have established a tradition of being free wheeling. Other than established hospitality room hours, a business meeting, and our banquet, attendees and guests were free to tailor their time to socializing with shipmates new and old and enjoying Nashville’s attractions. Many attendees visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, the Parthenon, the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry, and the restaurants and honky tonks on Broadway.
Many thanks to Jeff Washburn who set up an extensive static diving display in the hospitality room. Additionally, he and his guest, Mary Jones, brought brownies, venison summer sausage, venison chili, cheese, crackers and sweet breads. As in past reunions, Jennifer Simmen brought peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. First time attendees Jack and Sandy Dempsey brought Tennessee barbecue, coleslaw, baked beans and mac-n-cheese. We ate well in the hospitality room this year!
A memorial table was set up in the hospitality room to recognize those members of the Conserver family who have crossed the bar since the Virginia Beach reunion. Photographs of Dick Renick and Terry Ackerman and their obituaries were on display throughout the reunion
Prior to the Saturday evening banquet, a business meeting was held in the hospitality room. The following items were discussed:
- Romondo Davis revealed the results of the 2023 reunion location survey. It will be held in the Phoenix. AZ, area. Assistance in the hotel selection process from crew members in the Phoenix area will be appreciated.
- More volunteers are needed to man the hospitality room at the next reunion by setting up a watch bill. Just like old times!
- Three locations were established for the 2024 reunion: Gettysburg, PA; Annapolis, MD; and Savannah, GA. A survey to select which city will be forthcoming. We’re hoping for a better response to this survey. Only 32 crew members participated in the 2023 selection survey.
- An additional future survey will attempt to determine the reasons why this year’s attendance was a record low 33 in hopes of stemming the downward attendance trend and the possibility of holding the reunion every 2 years instead of every year.
Following the business meeting, Thayes Hower and Rita Geldert transferred all the silent auction items to the banquet room to encourage additional bidding and simplify closing out the auction. Also following the business meeting, five members of John Ackerman’s crew enjoyed a Facetime call with their former skipper since he was unable to attend this year.
After everyone was seated in the banquet room, Romondo Davis, our very capable Master of Ceremonies, welcomed and thanked all for attending the reunion. First time attendee Richard Dunne lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I spoke briefly memorializing Dick Renick and Terry Ackerman. Romondo gave the blessing prior to a delicious plated banquet of espresso rubbed New York Strip Steak or a pan seared French Chicken Breast, a salad, and a raspberry cheesecake dessert.
Keith Hansen and his daughter, Jennifer Simmen, sold tickets for the 50/50 raffle and had young Judy Simmen draw the winning ticket. The lucky winner of $260 (one-half of the $520 collected) was Dale Geldert.
I had the pleasure of presenting award plaques to the following shipmates:
- Perfect Attendance: Lee Samuelson: he’s attended every reunion.
- Attendance at their first reunion: J.R. Crosby, Richard Dunne, Jack Dempsey
- Attendance at their fifth reunion: Robert (Pistol) Hurst and Fred Stevens.
- Oldest attending the reunion: Richard Dunne
- Youngest attending the reunion: Fred Stevens
- Traveled farthest to the reunion: Ben Lokey
- Served earliest: Dale Geldert (63-64)
- Served latest: Robert (Pistol) Hurst (91-94)
For the past three reunions Dale and Rita Geldert have conducted a Navy trivia quiz. Dale’s pre-quiz rules which were read aloud by Rita were peppered with good natured barbs about divers, bos’n mates and snipes. No bones were broken and no blood was shed. Everyone seated at the winning table received a large engraved drinking mug and pin. This year’s quiz and the accompanying good natured back and forth between Dale and the divers, bos’n mates and snipes once again made this the highlight of the banquet.
Romondo Davis reviewed the storytelling “rules” and invited the new members to start the tales. Others followed with their stories and remembrances. I won’t relate to you all of the great stories we heard, but some will undoubtedly be re-told in Phoenix. Come and contribute one!
With that we closed out the silent auction, determined the high bidders for each item, and collected payment. 29 items were contributed by shipmates and their guests and every item sold. The auction raised $585 which has been placed in the reunion fund. The auction item contributions and generosity of those who bid on them play a large part in sustaining the reunion fund. Bravo Zulu to all who contributed and all of those who purchased items.
The three top selling items in the auction were Jennifer Simmen’s ten zippered bags ($110), Jeff Washburn’s Johnson Automatic Towing Machine brass plaque from the Conserver ($100) and a bos’n pipe ($50).
Our Webmaster, Romondo Davis, photographed everyone at the banquet and has posted his photos here on the Conserver website. You will find other reunion photos on the Conserver Facebook page.
We hope to see a lot more of you in Phoenix next year, Please check this Reunion Information page and our Facebook page for future reunion news.