While attending the Sunnyland show we all learned of the passing of Arthur Dean Guy. Dean, as his friends knew him, was very active in the two ACBS chapters, Sunnyland and Blue Ridge, he called home for over 30 years. He also served on the ACBS International Board and led the organization as President in 1993. The following story about Dean Guy was originally featured in the Winter 2021 issue of Sheerline and is a wonderful tribute. We sound Eight Bells for Dean Guy, signifying that his watch is over.
ACBS PAST PRESIDENT – Arthur Dean Guy
By Skip Frey, with Dean and Wynne Guy
Recent issues of The Sheerline have included a “Past Presidents” feature, profiling former Presidents of the Chapter and their lives and careers; in this issue, however, we focus on a Past President of another kind: Dean Guy, a major long-time participant in our wooden boat hobby and indeed a Past President—of the Antique and Classic Boat Society International, and a very active restorer, builder and collector. In addition to his many years of affiliation with ACBS, Dean is a long-time member of both Sunnyland and the Blue Ridge Chapter.
Sometimes you run into individuals whose lives have been so full, their accomplishments, interests and achievements so diverse that it is hard to imagine that there was ever time for all of them to be undertaken, realized and enjoyed. Arthur Dean Guy is one of these; with his wife and partner Wynne, Dean has an extraordinary life history.
Dean was born in Kansas City, Missouri; after graduating from his local high school, in 1950 he entered Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he became a student body leader, a time in his life he describes as “a wonderful life experience”. Another sort of “life experience” occurred when his family provided a trip to Europe as a graduation gift. Saying that he did not want to take a tour with “a bunch of New Jersey school teachers”, Dean signed up with a college tour group that he soon discovered included 31 people—Dean and 30 young women.
Returning from his trip, Dean volunteered for service in the U.S. Army; he knew he wanted to join for the experience and training but knew also that he wanted to enlist for two years only. During basic training at Ft. Bliss in New Mexico and Texas, Private Guy was interviewed and tested with others for possible training in intelligence—“I think they wanted to see who could read and write.” After further testing and a personal interview, he was sent to Ft. Holabird in Maryland to be trained as a member of the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps.
For the next 18 months Dean lived in Panama City, in an undercover role as a civilian consultant. Although only a private, due to his undercover role, Dean had a staff car and an apartment. Returning to the United States after his two year enlistment, Dean enrolled as a graduate student majoring in history at the University of Texas, remaining until his G.I. Bill benefits expired.
The two subsequent years included two events that would set the pattern for the rest of Dean’s life. He joined Tidewater Oil Company in Houston, Texas, an integrated oil producer, refiner, distributor and marketer, and met Wynne Anderson, a Texas native, marrying her in 1957.
At this time, the couple began collecting classic automobiles, foreshadowing their later collection of antique and classic boats, beginning in the late 1950’s with several Porsche sports cars. These were followed in 1970 by a 1937 Rolls Royce touring car, purchased in England and enjoyed on a “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” tour throughout England with their two young children. Later they acquired a 1962 Bentley (as a “stablemate” for the Rolls, says Dean). Since then, they have also owned several classic MG TD’s.
After Tidewater, Dean contacted Airco, a manufacturer of carbon and graphite electrode and resistor products as well as gasses for industrial and healthcare use. Soon, he took over a division specializing in packaging and distribution of industrial gasses for hospitals and other commercial users, based in Memphis. The unit had been in business for 11 years and had never been profitable.
One of Dean’s major goals was always to own his own business, to be in business for himself, and after selling their prized classic cars and other assets to raise funding, the couple were able to complete the purchase in 1977, naming the company Central Oxygen and Supply, Inc. During the next eight years, revenues increased 800%, and in 1985 they sold the company and “retired”, moving to Mt. Dora in 1986, building a shop and a boathouse adequate for boats up to 30’. For several years after the sale of their company, Dean remained in contact with Airco and provided acquisition consulting services.
During the period of their ownership, Wynne earned her degree in accounting from the University of Memphis and has been the investment and financial manager for the couple ever since.
The couple has two children, both with long and successful careers, and three grown grandchildren.
Although Dean’s serious involvement in the antique and classic boat hobby began in the 1980’s, his interest in all things boating began at an early age. During his teenage years the family had a summer home on Grand Lake, Colorado. While vacationing in Maine with his family one summer, 14 year old Dean received a job offer from Grand Lake Boat Company; he immediately crossed the country alone by bus and went to work maintaining canoes, moving on to motorboats and eventually becoming a tour boat driver earning $1.00 per hour.
Dean became a member of ACBS in 1986, and joined both the Sunnyland (“We had about 20 members.”) and Blue Ridge Chapters. He soon began moving through committee and officer positions until becoming ACBS President in 1993; he was presented with the ACBS Founders Award in 1994.
And the boats: Dean and Wynne have owned many wooden boats over the years, including canoes and a 1900 Elco yacht tender, with as many as 17 at one time, stored in their Mt. Dora shop and other locations around the area. There are three, however, that Dean remembers best.
After acquiring and restoring Alexandra, a 28 foot 1939 Hutchinson sedan originally built in the Thousand Islands, Dean and Wynne traveled with her throughout the United States and Canada. Dean still owns and displays her original transom.
Living on Grand Lake when Dean was a child, was the family of Joyce Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards, The Halls owned a 16’ 1939 Chris Craft Special race boat (model 928), finished in red, white and blue, one of 400 made that year. Dean admired the boat as a child, and many years later he was able to acquire it from its then owner and complete a full restoration. Ultimately, he sold the boat to Rick Schaffer of Ft. Worth, a grandson of Joyce Hall.
Dean’s 30’ 1930’s Hacker triple cockpit had been owned originally by Edward Everett Horton, well-known actor in theater, radio, television and film during the first half of the 20th century. When the boat was acquired by Dean from a subsequent owner, he found it to be in very good condition, needing only minor restoration by “the best restorer in Michigan”.
Another notable boat was Traveler, an early 1940’s Hacker runabout. Dean had received a telephone call from Wilson Wright suggesting that Dean take a look at this “grey” Hacker. Dean purchased it and brought it home. After reviews by three experts: Wynne: “I don’t want that in that building; it probably has termites”; termite expert: “There’s no wood here a termite would be interested in”; professional restorer: “Burn it”, Dean decided, of course, to restore the boat. Working with Tom Flood they rebuilt and restored Traveler using patterns made from original wood. Over the years, Dean and Tom restored five boats together; “What I learned about boat construction I learned from Tom.” Dean says that he was partly responsible for bringing Tom, as well as Stan Petersen, to Mt. Dora.
Subsequent to that, Traveler had her moment of fame when Dean was contacted by representatives of a Japanese cosmetics company who needed a wooden boat for a commercial. This became a shoot with actor Richard Gere in Lake County and “farther down the peninsula”. Dean and Richard got along well: “We talked and did things together. At one point he wanted to buy a boat from me, but that did not happen.”
Another Guy restoration, Reverie, a 1948 Chris Craft Deluxe Runabout, was the featured illustration for an article in the August 1990 issue of Money magazine. .
It should be mentioned that Dean’s water-related activities were not limited to floating on it; at one point, he became licensed scuba diver and a Certified Underwater photographer, diving in Hawaii, Mexico and the Florida Keys. His photos are artistic and dramatic, some with friendly “close encounters”.
Having lived in Mt. Dora since 1986, it‘s not surprising that Dean has made numerous contributions to the community. While serving as Commodore of the Mt. Dora Yacht Club from 1995 to 1997, he also took over from Ann and Michael
Matheson the planning and leadership of the annual Sunnyland St. John’s River Cruise, at that time a two day event, traveling from Jacksonville to Sanford. During his six years in charge of the event, Dean expanded the cruise to a four day, two way experience, as it remains today. In recognition of the time and effort required to organize a successful event and for his other contributions, in 1996 Dean was given a special award by Sunnyland for his “tireless efforts” on behalf of the Chapter.
In addition to his ACBS and Sunnyland and boat restoration activities, for eight years, Dean served as Chairman of the Board of Florida Hospital Waterman Foundation. He has also served as an Advisor to the Lake Community Foundation, as well as the Executive Committee of the Lake Eustis Institute, President of Leisure Point and a board member of the Mt. Dora Friends of the Library.
Dean considers that his success in a long and interesting career can be attributed to his lifelong partnership with Wynne, strong principles of honesty and integrity passed on by his parents and an ability to work hard to understand and ensure success in everything he takes on.
“Our life has not been dull.”
Photo courtesy of Dean and Wynne Guy