GAMBIER — The passing of legendary news anchorman Walter Cronkite last week had a very special meaning to Garrett Ressing, a Gambier resident and retired attorney, who owns Cronkite’s old sailboat. Ressing recalls how he met Cronkite and arranged a deal to buy the boat as though it was yesterday.
“I met him at a function in Washington, and at the time I was looking for a sailboat,” Ressing recalled. “So my brother talked to him and we struck a deal. I still have it and it’s down in Fort Lauderdale.”
The boat is a 48-foot Westsall sailboat that was custommade for Cronkite. It’s the one he sailed off into the sunset on when he retired from CBS News.
“He had ordered a newer and bigger boat,” Ressing said. “He was wanting to find someone who loved sailing, so we worked out a deal with him to get that. He was real personable and he was a very dynamic, giving and charitable person.”
In that vein, Ressing has used the sailboat in the Hospice Regatta.
“Walter was such a generous person and was involved in helping people with special wishes,” Ressing said. “I’ve sailed in the Hospice Regatta and given rides to people who wouldn’t be with us much longer. I feel that’s in the tradition of what Walter did.”
The boat is something more than the average sailboat, according to Ressing. It has some very unique features.
“It had had the queen of Denmark on it,” he said. “There was a little plaque for that. He sailed it off Maine and Massachusetts. It even has a fireplace. Very few sailboats have a fireplace. It has prism lights over the chart table. Then the light expands over the table so you can read your charts. It has a lot of unique things about it. I’ve had an autographerd picture of him hanging in my office where he congratulaed me and wished me good luck with the boat.”