Eight Bells: Bill Mauk
Published on January 28th, 2021
Bill Mauk, 77, who for several months had been dealing with an undiagnosed neurological disorder that left him weak and with pneumonia, died January 22 in Miami, FL. Thoughts and condolences go out to his wife Jo and the entire Mauk Family.
Bill was a strong competitor, a tireless volunteer who gave generously of his time and talents, a man whose zest for life and for sailing made him a role-model for the Corinthian Spirit.
“Bill had many qualities that stood out,” noted good friend Ched Proctor. “But more than anyone, he was an avid and enthusiastic competitor and he always wanted to learn. I had the pleasure of sailing his Etchells with him these past few years. Our program benefited from his eternal optimism mixed with a healthy component of realism. But best of all he was a great friend to everyone.
“He had an all-inspiring intellect and keen analytical mind. I always placed a great value on his advice. Judy and I shared so many enjoyable experiences with Bill and Jo. Whatever the occasion, Bill always had an insightful observation regarding people, culture and events. Sharing experiences with Bill was always wonderful. Life just won’t be as good without him.”
Though Bill sailed Rebels as a youngster in Toledo, OH in the 1960s, and continued by taking sailing lessons later on the Bay in San Francisco, he and his family came to the competitive world of sailboat racing only in the 1990s in South Florida.
Bill was just finishing up his first career as an insurance executive. Others his age would have been polishing their golf swings, but Bill fully embraced sailboat racing. He hired coaches and started an ambitious training plan –– despite lingering knee problems from his basketball days in high school.
Thanks to his determination, Bill quickly progressed in the Lightning, Etchells, and Laser classes. He won the 2007 Etchells Worlds (with a team of fellow Lightning sailors including Tito Gonzalez at the helm), the 2007 Lightning International Masters Championship, and was a reliable top-ten finisher at major Class
Bill promoted sailing fiercely, bringing in new sailors, providing logistical support for out-of-town teams, and helping organize regattas in Florida. As members of Coral Reef Yacht Club, Jo and Bill invited gangs of sailors for dinners out and they were always putting up international teams in their guest room. He’s roundly recognized as a spark that has kept Florida sailing flourishing.
Leadership roles were part of his DNA. He had a deep interest in maintaining the international stature of the Lightning Class and worked hard to make sure that non-US members were both well-represented and included in the decision-making process of the class. He served as the Lightning Vice President of the Pan Am for years, as well as the co-chair of the 2003 Lightning Worlds held in Miami.
Bill’s passion for travel and culture began before his international competition. He worked for the State Department – USAID in 1968 and this brought him to Vietnam for three years. Once he knew it was safe, Jo met up with him there and they were married. Years later in 2010, Bill and Jo pulled up stakes again and joined the Peace Corps. For two years they lived in Suriname, volunteering their time.
His commitment to public service included a passionate interest in politics as well as support for Shake-A-Leg in Miami. As a founding board member, he was instrumental in helping to launch the program on the waterfront. Bill worked selflessly with any team.
Fifth-generation Lightning sailor, Jeff Hayden, who campaigns with fellow young FSU alumni sailors Hannah Sellers and Rafael Melendez, reminisced about Bill. “The three of us have sailed with him on many occasions,” said Hayden. “He once took eight of us from the FSU Sailing Team on his Etchells. There was always enough room on his boat to introduce young people to one-design sailing. Bill was relentless in his pursuit to keep improving. His insights, competitiveness, and storytelling will be greatly missed.”
Due to COVID-19, the family is not planning a memorial service at this time. They look forward to the day when we can get together in-person to share stories and celebrate Bill’s adventure-filled life.
Bill loved sailing and helping others. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to one of the following organizations in his name:
• International Lightning Class Association Boat Grant Program
• Shake-A-Leg Miami