It is with mixed feelings that the TSPS Bridge announces that forty-plus-year member of TSPS, Tony Whitman, will soon pull up stakes and return to the US. He will be moving to San Diego in mid December to be closer to his daughter and son, both of whom reside in California. His departure from Japan and from the TSPS Bridge leaves a Tony Whitman-sized hole in our organization, one which the Bridge is scrambling to fill.
Tony has served as lead instructor for our JMRA license course, and for more than a decade held twice-yearly study sessions. On his own, Tony built the course from nothing. He assembled a library of test materials, photocopied and packaged all the course materials, arranged the study session location, and coordinated and disseminated information from JMRA to test-takers and membership. Tony was also instumental in getting many of the session attendees to join TSPS. Over the years around 90% of Tony’s students who actually sat for the exam passed, which is by any measure a wonderful accomplishment, something we hope to continue as the reins guiding our JMRA efforts are passed on to others. It should be noted that the JMRA course is our principal source of income, and without the tireless efforts of Tony and Chris Pitts, who serves as lead instructor for the Class 1 license study session, we would not be nearly as financially sure-footed as we currently are. (This in itself warrants the warmest of hugs, but being sailors all, we can only simple say, “Thanks, Tony.”)
Tony also served as TSPS Treasurer for many years. In this role, Tony managed our finances, dealt with USPS-related financial matters, set up bank accounts in an era of shifting financial regulation, and spent no small amount of time juggling yen-dollar rates in managing cross-border transactions of course books, USPS materials, and purchases from the USPS’s Ship’s Store. He worked closely with John Marshall, our Membership Chairman, in helping new members make payment to TSPS. But perhaps Tony’s biggest accomplishment as Treasurer was dealing with the myriad of questions posed by Bridge members at the monthly Bridge meetings. Given the changes in financial regulation and the fiscal complications of being USPS’s sole international squadron, his patience and mastery of emotion at the meetings is plaque-worthy in and of itself.
As a member in general, Tony was part owner of Whitecrest and he and the crew often joined the many sailing adventures TSPS organized. He also crewed aboard other boats and while underway, at anchor, or tied up at a dock, Tony was always generous with his knowledge and experiences on the sea. He was invaluable as crew in clarifying any collision regulation or navigation question arising from a situation on the water. He is, through and through, quite simply a boat guy.
It is very difficult to sum up in a few words how vital Tony’s efforts have been to the squadron, and it can certainly be said that we didn’t say often enough to our departing treasurer and instructor, “Thank you for the hard work.” We’ll say it here.
Thank you, Tony, for your forty-plus years of tireless dedication to TSPS, and to its mission of promoting safe boating in Japanese waters. All the best to you as you begin a new chapter in your life. You will sorely be missed by all.
[hr] Commander Eugen Mall hosted The Bridge’s going-away party for Tony on November 14, 2014. Here are some photos from that event.