EIGHT BELLS: Svend Svendsen

Published on May 29th, 2013

After a courageous and dignified battle with cancer, Svend Svendsen passed over the bar quietly at home in Alameda, CA on May 27 with his family by his side.

Born 1932 in Espergaerde Denmark, Svend was the fourth of six children to Anna and Jens Svendsen. Svend descended from a long line of Danish fishermen. Out of necessity, Svend developed a strong work ethic at an early age and held many jobs growing up. He spoke often of his favorite childhood job, delivering fresh baked bread on his bicycle – through all weather conditions and driving snow storms. When the Nazis occupied his Danish homeland in 1940, he delivered messages for the Danish underground which were hidden in the loaves of bread.

After the war, Svend attended and graduated from a boat-building technical college. Faced with the choice of going to Australia or the United States to pursue his new trade, Svend chose New York, traveling across the Atlantic in 1956 on one of the last immigrant ships. After working briefly for the Derecktor shipyard in Mamaroneck NY, Svend traveled across country with several Danish friends in a car with no reverse gear. He ended up in San Francisco, where he worked for a number of well-known yacht builders in Sausalito and Oakland, and traveled the country with the world’s fastest unlimited hydroplane boat which he helped build and maintain.

In 1960 Svend married his loving wife of 52 years Suzanne Svendsen, whom he met while on a winter ski trip at Tahoe. Together they shared over five decades of love, family unity, creativity and adventure. Svend was an original member, a Board Chairman, and later an honorary member of the Young Scandinavian’s Club (YSC) in San Francisco, where he and Suzanne carried on Danish traditions. His fellow members were more like his extended family, and together he and Suzanne created life-long friendships within the YSC.

In 1963, Svend and Suzanne founded Svendsen’s Boat Works at the Pacific Marina in Alameda (now Marina Village). In 1966 Svend moved the business to its current location in the Alameda Marina. For fifty years, and up to his passing, Svend worked side-by-side with his employees, growing it from a one man shop into to one the largest and preeminent boat repair and supply businesses on the West Coast. – Read on

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