Hay Harbor Club Honors Duggan and Gray at Retirement Party

by Jane Ahrens
Dick Duggan and Bill Gray,
longtime friends retire together.

Sunday, August 28, 2016 Hay Harbor Club members, staff and Island community members gathered on the lawn for a celebration of General Manager Dick Duggan and Asst. Manager Bill Gray’s Retirement Party.

Good evening everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Chriffo Sanger president of Hay Harbor. As Mom always said… “if you are going to interrupt a perfectly nice cocktail party you best have something important to say, and for God’s sake keep it brief.”

First, I would like to offer a warm welcome to the Duggan and Gray families who have joined us tonight. I am thrilled that you are all able to be here.

Secondly, I want to thank the party committee of Heather Burnham, Elizabeth Reid, Sharon Patterson and Chef Kenny Wollenberg along with the entire Hay Harbor staff for making tonight possible.

Tonight we gather to celebrate the combined 40+ years of tireless dedication of Dick Duggan and Bill Gray. In reflecting on their time at Hay Harbor, I found myself thinking about how much has changed, yet, being Fishers Island, how little.

A few notable events include…

  • The pool was a year old when they arrived.
  • The golf house wasn’t yet built.
  • Sunset Deck evolved into an incredible dining experience under the care of Chef Kenny Wollenberg.
  • Kayaking and paddle boarding was added.
  • The staff has grown to over 100 in the peak of the season.
  • The Harbor Striper program was created
  • The bathrooms were relocated to create more office and pro shop space.

And perhaps, much to the wonder of Dick and Bill, the activity of stand-up paddleboard yoga has taken hold!

All the while, Dick and Bill have been steady champions of our modest progress and stewards of the values and character that make Hay Harbor so unique. They have kept the building standing, patched, repaired, sometimes begged, often borrowed, and not that I am aware of ever stolen!

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have referenced the Club’s centennial book for some basic fact checking. As it turns out Dick is the second longest serving manager in Club history. It seems Alexander Smyth was manager from 1909 – 1940, a 31-year run. But I doubt the tennis courts were as good, or as many!

Through the years, Dick and Bill have seen it all. Missing staff, dryer fires, super storms, droughts, floods, oil spills, lost food deliveries, you name it. In fact every time I speak to either one of them, I hear another story, usually funny, sometimes horrifying, but always told with a smile and twinkle in the eye. Just this past week, I crashed the senior dinner. If you are over 65, this is the place for you. If you aren’t, don’t bother. What I learned was that about 15 years ago, Dick’s wife Linda had started to meet more and more of the senior members, whom she had never seen before. It was her observation that the Club should do something specific for them. And that was the creation of the senior dinner. Who knew?

Dick and Bill have always been able to “roll with it”, and for that Hay Harbor has maintained it’s charm as a direct result of their unending care.

When I was asked to become president of the Club, Leslie Coleman and Charlie Wilmerding both assured me that it was going to be OK so long as the Club didn’t burn down and that Dick and Bill would stay on. While it’s hard to see Dick and Bill go, the reality of these two now spending their summers with THEIR families is much too compelling to argue. I am certain they will spend their time fixing things at home and organizing fun activities for their entire families.

As we lose two of our most senior staff, I am pleased to announce that both Dick Duggan and Bill Gray have been elected Honorary Members of Hay Harbor. I fully expect that they will be booking time in the stand-up paddleboard yoga clinics next summer! I also have the privilege of announcing a new award which will be presented at the August awards day in recognition of a staff member who has exhibited the tireless dedication, can do spirit, and good humor so embodied by Dick and Bill. This award will be named the Dick Duggan and Bill Gray Staff Award.

My allotted time has now expired and so I would like to raise a glass to Dick and Bill, and their families, and thank them for a “job well done”. Hay Harbor is a better place thanks to you. You will both be missed. Thank you!

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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