Volunteer Spotlight, July 2017: Gary Watros
Q: How long have you been a Volunteer at the Herreshoff Marine Museum?
A: 2 years, but I have been a member for nearly 20 years.
Q: Why did you decide to volunteer at the Museum?
A: I answered an invitation to attend a gathering for potential volunteers. Elisabeth Lavers said that the museum needed advice on gardening and redesign of the landscape to make it more attractive for events such as weddings. Since I am experienced in both areas and felt that the property could benefit from my involvement, I decided to pitch in.
Q: What is it that you do here?
A: Last year, I headed a group of staff and volunteers to work on upgrading the existing gardens. Over the winter, I created plans for enhancements to the waterside which would make it more attractive for events by adding greenery, outdoor seating and a pleasant entry. My proposals included a design for two mobile planter-benches which the Herreshoff volunteers built on-site. I also designed and managed the construction of the new entry planter. I planted it with nasturtiums, lilies, and straw flowers and maintain it as well. I also planted caladium and elephant ear bulbs in the raised beds behind the tent. Soon, the new entry I designed will be built. Next year, there will be a planter with seating on the waterfront-and maybe a gazebo to provide some shade.
Q: Tell us a little about your background.
A: I was raised on a farm in upstate New York and graduated from Rensselaer with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1964. From 1964-1970, I was one of the men of Mission Control in Houston. I was responsible for half of the systems of the Lunar Module. Yes, I on duty for the first landing, Apollo 11, and was one of those guys in the movie "Apollo 13" trying to keep those three astronauts alive and safely return to earth. By 1970, I felt that the space program was at its apex, so I transferred to the newly-formed US Department of Transportation where I conducted a wide variety of studies, analyses and research for some 28 years. I retired in 1998, bought and restored a fine, old house in downtown Bristol. During the past 20 years, I became the first male member of the Bristol Garden Club (founded 1928) and eventually its president! As a volunteer, I designed and oversaw the installation of Mrs. Perry's Garden at Thomas Park, across from Sip N' Dip. Again, as a volunteer, I did a makeover of Mosaico park at the corner of Wood and Franklin and maintained it for 5 years. I was a member of the Historic District Commission for 6 years and later was a member of an adhoc advisory committee for the Commission--plus several other volunteer/activist roles. Several years ago, I was asked to enhance the landscaping and gardens of the First Congregational Church and continue to work at that in addition to my own intensively-cultivated half acre across the street. Oh, and my wife, Beverly, and I met when taking adult sailing lessons at the Herreshoff back in 2003.
Q: What is your favorite part about your time at the Museum?
A: When I see the smile of appreciation for my efforts on the faces of HMM staff and visitors alike. I also enjoy chatting with the folks who pass thru who are in some way a part of the sea-faring tradition.