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USS Conserver 2023 Reunion Recap

Date: April 26-30, 2023

Location: Holiday Inn & Suites
Phoenix-Mesa/Chandler, AZ

Number of Attendees:

  • 23 Crew Members
  • 21 Guests
  • Total: 44

The Conserver family gathered once again for the 10th reunion. Attendees and guests were free to spend their time socializing with shipmates and guests, new and old, and to enjoy visiting the area’s attractions. This year we had an informal Meet and Greet in the hospitality room on Thursday evening. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres catered by the hotel. Jim and Colette Davenport generously donated a case of assorted wines from their Hard Hat Winery inventory.

The hospitality room was well stocked with snacks and drinks brought in by various shipmates and purchased with reunion funds. As in previous reunions, it became the gathering spot and frequent had a dozen shipmates and guests socializing.

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A memorial poster depicting those crew centers who have passed on since the previous reunion was on display in the Hospitality Room. It was relocated to the Missing Man Table in the banquet room for the dinner held Saturday evening.

Many enjoyed a group outing on Friday morning to the nearby Goldfield Ghost Town despite the unseasonable warm 96 degree weather. There were numerous activities available, a scenic train ride, a mine tour, a zip line , and plenty of shopping opportunities.

Thayes Hower organized a Ladies’ Breakfast on Saturday morning at T.C. Eggington’s, a popular local restaurant. It was well-attended and provided a welcome respite from the sea stories in the Hospitality Room. It will undoubtedly become a regular event at future reunions.

A business meeting was held prior to the Saturday dinner. The results of the 2024 reunion city preference survey were revealed.

The 2024 reunion will be held in Savanah, GA.

Three locations were established for the 2025 reunion:

  • Dayton, OH
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • St. Louis, MO

Another survey will be forthcoming to select one of the 3 cities. It was noted that depending on the city selected, the reunion dates will likely be in late May or early June instead of April.

After the business meeting was adjourned, group photos were taken and have been posted on the USS Conserver FaceBook page.

Following the meeting was the annual banquet. I welcomed everyone. Dale Geldert lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thayes Hower read a poem titled, The Old Sailor (Crossing the Bar), after which I spoke briefly about those shipmates who had passed since the last reunion and called for a moment of silence and reflection.

Jennifer Simmen and her daughter, Judy, circulated selling tickets for the 50/50 raffle. Judy drew the winning ticket. The lucky winner of $340.00 (one-half of the $680.00 collected) was first time reunion attendee, Bob Pena.

Bob Carmichael gave the blessing prior to a delicious Tex-Mex buffet. Many attendees commented that it was a welcome change from the normal steak and chicken plated meals.

I had the pleasure of presenting award plaques to the following shipmates:

  • Attendance at their first reunion: John Peterson, Dan Lutz, Rich Leatherdale, Allen Ruiz, Bernie Fenkohl, Tim Powers and Bob Pena
  • Attendance at their fifth reunion: Bud Andreasen, Jim Richardson and Allen Eckert
  • Oldest attending the reunion: Rich Leatherdale
  • Youngest attending the reunion: Pistol Hurst
  • Traveled farthest to the reunion: Bernie Fenkohl
  • Served earliest: Dale Geldert (63-64)
  • Served latest: Robert (Pistol) Hurst (91-94)

First time attendees were invited to stand and introduce themselves and their guests, let us know their rate while on board when the served on the Conserver, and how they heard about the reunion.

Dale and Rita Geldert conducted their Navy Trivia Quiz, a feature at three previous reunion dinners. Each table answered the quiz questions as a group. Everyone seated at the winning table received a large engraved drinking mug. The quiz, as always, was the highlight of the banquet.

We then closed out the Silent Auction, determined the winning bids for each item, and collected payments.

  • 66 items were donated by shipmates and their guests. All sold.
  • Amount raised: $1,521 and has been placed in the reunion fund.

The auction items contributed and generosity of those who bid on them play a huge part in sustaining the reunion funds. Bravo Zulu to all who contributed and all those who purchased items.

John Peterson, Rich Leatherdale and Jim Richardson photographed many aspects of the reunion. Their photos are posted below. You can also find other reunion photos on the Conserver Facebook group page. I urge you to join Facebook group if only for access to the Conserver Group page. Members have posted over 5000 photos over the years.

We hope to see you in Savannah next year. Please check the Conserver website and Facebook group page for future reunion details as they become available.

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