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Virginia Beach 2021 Reunion – A Recap

Our family of Conserver crew members and their guests gathered at the Wyndham

Virginia Beach Oceanfront hotel to celebrate Conserver’s eight annual reunion, held April 28 through May 2, 2021. A total of 54 attended — 28 crew members and 26 guests. COVID 19 concerns likely contributed to the smaller attendance. Once again, our hats off and a hearty BZ to our reunion committee: Renee Weaver, this year’s reunion host, Dale and Thayes Hower, Romondo Davis and Keith “Doc” Hansen and any and all who worked behind the scenes to make this reunion another resounding success.

Conserver reunions have established a tradition of being kind of 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 Virginia’s coastal attractions. This has worked out well for each of our previous reunions and Virginia Beach was certainly no exception.

Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin BB-64

Our first “scheduled” event on April 30th was a group tour of the Nauticus and USS Wisconsin BB-64 museum complex in Norfolk. Our reunion host Renee Weaver, organized the event.

The tour was free thanks to a very generous contribution from LTJG Dave Blake, former Conserver EMO, Diving Officer and Operations Officer. Thirty two shipmates and guests enjoyed an in depth guided tour of the topside areas of the battleship. I think I can speak for all when I say that I haven’t climbed that many ship’s ladders in a number of years. After the guided tour we were free to explore the available interior spaces of the ship and visit the adjacent Nauticus naval museum.

Business meeting

Prior to the finale (our banquet), the group’s business meeting, conducted by Romondo Davis, was held in the hospitality room. The main purpose of this meeting was to reach a consensus on where our next two reunions would be held. Nashville, TN was selected as the 2022 reunion location after an on line vote conducted after the cancelled 2019 Napa reunion. Bremerton, WA, Sacramento, CA and Phoenix, AZ, were selected by those in attendance at the meeting as choices for the 2023 reunion. Look for a future online vote to determine which one of these three cities will be the 2023 location.

Memorializing those who have crossed the bar

A memorial table was set up in the hospitality room to recognize those members of the Conserver family who have passed on since the 2019 Branson reunion. Photographs of each lost shipmate were displayed on the table, accompanied by their obituaries.

The Banquet

Our “grand finale” has traditionally been the Saturday evening awards banquet, after which a meal is served followed by various members of our family being recognized.

Romondo Davis was our very capable Master of Ceremonies.

After welcoming all to the reunion, Romondo thanked our host Renee Weaver for her hard work in selecting the hotel, organizing the hotel catering, hospitality rooms and Nauticus tour. He also thanked Renee and her daughter Brittany Meadows for the amazing hand made cloth welcome bags and RS-39 face masks that they loving crafted for everyone in attendance. The best welcome bags we’ve ever had. Thayes Hower presented Renee and Brittany with flowers and thank gifts.

Dale Hower remembered and memorialized the shipmates who have passed since our Branson reunion. Fair winds and following seas.

  • Jess Ashlock
  • Buzz Costa
  • Arnold Kitchen
  • Tim Oman
  • Pat Shea
  • Kevin Weaver

Dale Hower presented recognition award plaques to the following shipmates:Perfect Attendance: Lee Samuelson – he’s attended all eight reunions!

Attendance at their fifth reunion:

  • Dale Geldert
  • Pete Westbay
  • Greg Haines
  • Romondo Davis

First attendance at a reunion:

  • Daniel Orr
  • Sergio Cartaya
  • Bob Preece
  • Don Hatch
  • Jim Davenport
  • Chris Rogers
  • Jim Taylor

Oldest attending the reunion: Allen Eckert

Youngest attending the reunion: Fred Stevens

Traveled farthest to the reunion(two awards were given, these two shipmates live within 1/4 mile of each near Poulsbo, WA):

  • Ben Lokey
  • Jim Davenport

Served earliest: Dale Geldert (63-64)

Served latest: Fred Stevens (90-92)

Keith (Doc) Hansen sold tickets for the 50/50 raffle and invited Grace Sheehan to draw the winning ticket. The lucky winner of one half of the $835 collected was Greg Haines. Greg donated his $418 share to the reunion fund. The remaining $417 went into the fund.

Romondo Davis reviewed the storytelling “rules” and opened the reunion to any and all who wanted to tell a Conserver tall tale. The tellers and the believers all enjoyed themselves. We won’t relate to you any of the great stories we heard, but some will undoubtedly be re-told in Nashville. Come and contribute one!

With that, we adjourned to the hospitality room to learn who the silent auction high bidders were. 64 total items were contributed by shipmates and their guests and every single item sold. The auction contributed a record breaking $2025.

The top five money makers were Shehanna Adams’ T-shirts and metal signs ($495), Brittany Meadow’s memorial quilt made to honor Kevin Weaver ($300), Dale Hower’s ship’s wheel shelf ($160), RS-39 Alumni wall hanging ($151) and the USS Conserver rocker ($150).

The numerous auction item contributions and generosity of those who bid on them play an enormous part in sustaining the reunion fund. Bravo Zulu to all who contributed and all who purchased the items.

Each reunion, as treasurer, I’m frequently handed cash contributions for the fund and overpayments for auction items. These contributions added nearly $900 to the fund.

We hope to see you all in Nashville in 2022! Stay tuned for more information.

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