The meeting was called to order by President Jim Drew after a number of members enjoyed dining al fresco.
Caroline Gelb, Louise Meyer, Geoff
Holdridge, Ned Goddard, Steve Newman, Stan
Wiggins, Karen Possner, Tryon Wells, Holly Syrrakos,
Rich Lodish, Abigail Wiebenson, Peter Jones, Marianne
Ross, John Noble, Diane Noble, Jim Drew, Hester Ohbi,
David Winer, Jeff Komarow, Jane Winer, Sandra
Purohit, Ray Purohit, Mike Gelb, Drew Walsh, and Ann
Approval of the minutes was deferred until September.
Drew Walsh reported that Trip Reid
prepared a synopsis of a report from Scott Petrey, an
environmentalist scientist, on ways to slow the erosion
on the upriver end of the Island. The synopsis will be
published in the Islander, including suggestions on
planting trees and using the fallen trees as a buffer.
Drew and Joe met with an electrician to discuss the
use of a generator to protect the water supply, refrigerator
and other key items in case of a power failure. Cost
probably be about $800 for a generator and $1,100 for
labor. The electrician also suggested a separate electric
The stairs to the tool shed will be moved outside the
shed in order to provide a larger, solid floor and to
enable better organization of the tools.
John Noble reported that 37 of
the 62 new wait list applicants purchased passes. The
passes allow the wait listers to use the Island on Monday
through Friday from May to October, and any time during
the rest of the year. One member was in arrears, but
has paid his dues and is now back into membership,
making a temporary total of 161 members.
A notification was sent to applicants who did not
win the lottery citing that they weren’t selected because
there were not enough slots in their age category.
It was suggested that a new membership
roster be distributed as there have been a significant
number of changes since January. A discussion of
whether to include a roster of waiting list applicants
ensued, whether such personal information should be
distributed. The Standing Rules state that a roster of all
members and officers be distributed to each member in
January. This issue was withdrawn, and may possibly
be presented again later.
The annual Island Regatta will be held on Labor
Day, September 3.
Joe Hage and Whit Overstreet will embark on the
Second Annual Island to Island Paddle on August 18.
They will kayak 150 miles down the tidal Potomac
from Sycamore Island to the Chesapeake Bay as they
raise awareness of the Potomac’s water quality. All proceeds
from their adventure will go to the Potomac
Riverkeeper organization to help preserve our river
and improve water quality.
Joe Hage’s 10 years
Joe’s tenure as Island caretaker was
celebrated with song (Happy Decade to You) and with
home-made cakes and other tasty goodies. Several
members shared memories. Jim Drew begin by saying
what everyone felt—that in addition to doing a wonderful
job, what Joe really does is make the Island a
happier place. Jane Winer and Holly Syrrakos
exchanged accounts of how Joe first learned of the
caretaker position. Was it Brad Reardon of Springriver
Outfitters or Joe’s brother’s girlfriend at the Bethesda
Ann Marie Cunningham spoke of hiring Joe during
Carl Linden’s tenure as president. Members of the personal
committee loved Joe immediately, but were very
concerned about safety issues related to having his
young daughters, Kelsey and Kaylen, living on the
Island. But Joe won the committee over during the second
interview by demonstrating his careful consideration
of the matter. It was a sad day for those on the hiring
committee when the girls left the Island, and for
many other members. She also remembers telling Joe
that the clubhouse would be renovated, but that it
might take a while. (It took nearly 7 years.)
Jeff Komarow remembered that Joe’s normally
amazing level of equanimity wore thin during the clubhouse
renovation, as an unusually cold winter and
building inspectors delayed construction. His “Notes
from the Island” contained comments like:
• It’s really getting primitive now.
• Temperatures climbed out of the 20s today
• It’s above freezing in the bathroom, but not by much. (Of course, that was before the pipes froze and he had no running water.)
• If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
But finally, Joe’s old self returned:
• When this is thing done, it’s going to be awesome.
• I finally got to eat in the kitchen, and it’s like being in a forest canopy.
Dave Winer was skeptical at first about this guy with
a ponytail, but Joe’s resourcefulness and energetic
nature won Dave over. Joe’s skills at ice climbing and
whitewater canoeing impressed Dave. Dave said that
having Joe as caretaker and Alan as treasurer made it
possible for him to be president.
Caroline Gelb, channeling for husband Alan,
remembered an interview with Joe’s daughters that was
conducted simultaneously with Joe’s interview to
become caretaker. Alan was impressed with their
knowledge about nature and their technique of catching
catfish with cheese. Alan also spoke of Joe’s ingenuity
in bridge construction, endurance during clubhouse
renovation, creativity and talent demonstrated in his
“Notes from the Island” and in his music.
Tryon Wells recognized that former caretakers had
shorter tenures than Joe, and have left for a variety of
reasons, including flooding, family issues, controversies
with members. By contrast, Joe’s time has be quite
peaceful, much to Joe’s credit, and Tryon urged us all
not to take him for granted.
Drew Walsh first met Joe Hage, the summer of 2002,
while filling in between regular caretakers. I was
pleased to see some extra bucks he put in my hand
after helping him move some of his belongings on the
Island! Joe has done a lot for this club over his ten
years, helping to improve the facilities we all share, but
most of all being a great friend to us all.
Joe was presented with three gifts: a plaque, a check,
and a special cherry wood paddle bearing an engraved
Sycamore Island emblem.
Joe reminisced that at sunrise on his 40th birthday
he was on the verge of quitting his job and moving
west when he learned of the caretaker position. He was
excited about the many benefits of working and living
on the Island, being able to spend more time with his
children, and for his nature studies. He thought that he
would be very isolated but he is happy that the opposite
is true. He has a whole new community that he
loves. Joe is looking forward to many more years on the
The meeting and celebration were adjourned.
Ann Marie Cunningham