Jan. 16, 2010
SEATTLE - The Washington rowing program dedicated a new shell on Saturday afternoon to a name that is steeped in tradition at Conibear Shellhouse.
The Tom McCurdy '52 will live on as a state-of-the-art eight, once again fulfilling a charge from Tom's father, H.W. McCurdy, that the shellhouse always house a McCurdy boat. After H.W. passed away, his other son Jim, a former football player at the UW and a Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sports Star, has continued the family's partnership with the program.
"That's one of my challenges to see that it's done, and hopefully it will," said Jim McCurdy.
A former oarsman at Washington, Tom McCurdy died tragically from illness during the Korean War. His legacy has been upheld on Washington shells throughout the years. Each boat also bears the family crest, which bears the Latin phrase "Virtute et Constantia," which translates to "By Constancy and Virtue."
"It was here when I got here 36 years ago," said women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernst. "The McCurdy's have been very, very good to the rowing program. The endowment, the support; there's nothing that Jim McCurdy or that family wouldn't do for our rowing program. They're the blocks of granite this community is built around."
Men's crew coach Michael Callahan said that hundreds, if not thousands, of oarsman have rowed in the Tom McCurdy '52 during their time at Washington. The boat has won a countless number of Pac-10 Championships, along with numerous IRA titles during its tenure.
"The name McCurdy has been synonymous with Washington rowing for 50-60 years," Callahan said. "It's a tribute to Washington rowing. We're tied together; one generation teaches the other. And as George Pocock once said, you `build manhood by building boats.' This is another shell that's going to teach current and future Washington oarsmen how to be champions."
Since Callahan took over the men's position in 2007, he's made it a priority that Washington understands and embraces its connections with the former lions of the program.
"There's not only a legacy of rowing but a legacy of mentorship that exists here," Callahan said. "It establishes connections with them for the rest of their lives." Callahan added that the men's varsity eight will also race the Tom McCurdy '52 at one point during the upcoming season.
The McCurdy name has roots deep in the Puget Sound region. Horace Winslow McCurdy first attended the University of Washington before joining the fight in World War I. After returning from the war, he rowed on the first crew at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, he became president of Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging.