History of Great South Bay

Great South Bay Power Squadron received its charter on May 16th, 1941, and a new division was born. Great South Bay’s first meeting was held at Cooper’s Hotel in Bay Shore and G. Rowe Whitcomb, JN, was sworn in as Commander. There were 46 members that first year. Great South Bay’s area included members from Amityville to Patchogue, spanned four townships, and covered over twenty-five miles of Great South Bay shoreline. 

 In the first issue of the Great South Spray, our 2nd Squadron Commander (1942) writes “Great things cast their shadows before them. The Great South Bay Power Squadron is a coming “great thing”, and this its first publication fore-shadows its future. It is my sincere hope that this youthful shadow cast by a crew of “jolly hood fellows”, pulling together with a spirit of work and play, may lengthen to that of a well-established and venerable institution.” – Joseph J Carlin, Commander.” The Spray has been in constant publication for 77 years and has won 20 consecutive awards for Distinctive Communication for Publications.

Since its foundation, Great South Bay has been a unit of District Three (D3) (which encompasses Long Island from Brooklyn to Montauk). D3 was founded on December 13th, 1938. Great South Bay has had the honor of having four Past Commanders serve as District Commander [V. Aldric Beere 1954, Angelo Giovanniello 2004, Lawrence Postel 2012, and Thomas Pilek 2019]. Additionally, GSB has had the honor to have three members serve as District Educational Officer. [Peter Richichi 1999-2002, Lawrence Postel 2008-2011, Luann Kazanecki 2017-2020]Great South Bay’s burgee was the first to be authorized to a USPS Squadron by the USPS National Governing Board. The original burgee depicts the Fire Island Lighthouse in the foreground of a red circle with a blue border. The red/white/blue theme is an homage to the flag of the United States of America. In 1991, a gold trim was added to the blue border to signify our 50th anniversary. In 2016, the gold trim was replaced with platinum to signify our 75th Anniversary. The pennant was designed by Aaron Jacobsen and Benjamin Bromberg for the Great South Bay Division of South Shore Power Squadron in 1936. In May of 1941, after being Chartered as its own Squadron, Great South Bay would adopt the burgee as its permanent symbol. More about our burgee can be found on page 13.

The USPS Governing Board actions at the September 1981 and September 1982 meetings recognized two important aspects of USPS participation. In 1981, members whose long service had earned them 50 merit marks were granted the status of Governing Board member emeritus, with lifetime voting privileges. In 1982, a special meeting of delegates approved changes in the constitution and bylaws eliminating a male-only membership rule, thereby permitting women to become active members.

Although many women had long held a “woman’s certificate”, entitling them to enroll in all USPS courses, it was apparent that the antiquated statue preventing them from becoming full members would need to be abolished.. Accordingly, the bylaws were changed to make family memberships available, as boating had clearly become a more family-oriented endeavor. The first female active and family members were accepted in November 1982.

 Great South Bay would welcome its first female active members at the Annual Change of Watch Meeting in the Spring of 1983. A little over a decade later, in 1995, the membership would elect its first female educational officer: Barbara Hesketh. The next year, another barrier would be broken when Great South Bay would elect its first female administrative officer, who in January of 1999 would be elected as its first female Squadron Commander, Marie DeVito, who would be sworn in that following month as our 59th Commander. In the following years, Great South Bay would elect five more female Commanders and three additional female Educational Officers. One of whom, Suzanne R Mora, would be the first Commander to be elected to serve two consecutive terms in 2015 and 2016. 

In September of 2016, the Squadron Board of Directors approved the formation of a Squadron Emergency Response Assistance Team (SERAT) to be led by James M. Milton, as an on-water emergency support team geared towards providing aid to the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement. On August 7th, 2017, the National Squadron Activities Committee would approve our formation and designate Great South Bay as SERAT 08 – Great South Bay. Great South Bay is the 8th Nationally, and 2nd Squadron in D3 to be approved to form a SERAT Unit, behind Sewanaka Power Squadron, SERAT 04.

2017 would bring some big changes to Great South Bay, including the adoption of our new brand: ‘America’s Boating Club’. Led by Commander Arthur Wallach, there was a total overhaul of who we are and what we do. Our public-facing image would be ‘America’s Boating Club of Great South Bay’, which possesses a more friendly and inviting tone than “Power Squadron”. 

The Squadron Board of Directors would again be active in the fall of 2018 when it would approve the formation of  SeaScout Ship # 2070 under the guidance of Great South Bay Power Squadron. Sea Scouting is a program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women ages 14 to 20. Along with Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Venturing, Sea Scouting provides a program for fraternal, educational, and other community organizations to build character, encourage citizenship, and foster mental and personal fitness training for youth.