Antique & Classic Boat Festival Founder Pat Wells Dies

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Pat Wells

Pat Wells, one of the founders and the guiding spirit behind the Antique & Classic Boat Festival, passed away on December 9 at age 84. 

Pat grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and spent summers in Duxbury, on Boston’s South Shore, where she and her siblings sailed a Beetle Cat, sail No. 57. After graduating from Smith College, Pat edited a travel guide and worked with the Boston Architectural Center and at MIT, but she found her life’s mission when she got involved first with efforts to clean up Boston harbor and then to preserve our maritime heritage. 

In 1983, she was part of the Boston Educational and Marine Exchange when the group was looking for a way to bring the public back to an abandoned waterfront. The idea was raised to have an antique boat show. The first year, as the Boston Antique and Classic Boat Regatta, saw 22 vessels. From there, under Pat’s guidance, what is now the Antique & Classic Boat Festival has gone on for 38 years (with time out for a couple of hurricanes and the 2020 pandemic). It has honored (and been honored by) such luminaries as Olin Stephens, Llewellyn Howland, and Jon Wilson. 

Although Pat experienced a number of debilitating medical conditions for many years, she never complained and never let them slow her down. She was a force of nature, as many doubters found out over the years, and her legacy is a much broader and deeper appreciation of what she fondly called, “the grand old craft.” 

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