Gould A. ‘Stretch’ Ryder III, accomplished sailor, pilot, businessman, civic leader, and steward of the beautiful waterfront of Port Washington, passed away Oct. 24 at The Amsterdam at Harborside Hospice Center in Port Washington.
Stretch, as he was known to all, was well known as part of the crew on Ted Turner’s “Courageous” when it won the America’s Cup in 1977. Turner stayed in touch and visited Stretch last week.
Stretch’s life was marked by numerous personal contributions and accomplishments.
He loved being on the water and he spent many summers in Mattituck racing and teaching sailing. His accomplishments in sailing include winning the Bacardi Cup in the Star class and participating in Grand Prix sailing events worldwide with John Thomson including Farr 40 National Championship, winning two Key West Race weeks and the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii, and sailing seven Bermuda Races.
His teammates affectionately referred to Stretch as, “my brother from another mother.” He maintained a close bond with these men throughout the last 36 years.
Stretch was a founder of Port Washington’s Annual HarborFest Celebration and Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District, VP of Port Washington Chamber of Commerce (2003 Businessperson of the Year), President of NY Marine Trades Association, committee member of Long Island Coastal, Boating Safety and NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation, chair of Town of North Hempstead Waterfront Advisory Committee, and Port Washington Library Nautical Center Chair.
He was a respected and important voice supporting the sustainability of the Port Washington business and boating community. He was also active in Port Washington Youth Activities as a coach and Commissioner, United Methodist Church Council member and Stewardship Chair as well as Board member of the High School Football Boosters Club.
Stretch’s most important focus was his family. He was an avid supporter of his sons’ athletics, as a coach, videographer and ultimate fan. Their involvement in baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse and volleyball gave him such pride. Michael went on to play lacrosse at Salisbury University, and currently coaches at the University of Tampa. Chris played basketball at Hartwick College and works as an Assistant Video Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both boys have truly been influenced by his spirit for athletics.
Stretch had a business in Port, The Dinghy Den, before joining Thomson Industries, Inc. in 1977. Under the Thomson umbrella, his responsibilities varied from Corporate Helicopter Pilot to Sales Engineer and Product Manager, Assistant to the Chairman, Director of Operations for the Capri Marinas, Vice President of Ventura Yachts, Corporate Liaison to the community as an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District, and General Manager of Ventura Air Services.
His expertise on the issues of waterfront business and the environment allowed him to serve in key leadership roles on numerous local and state boards, advisory committees and trade associations.
Born on May 5, 1948 to Lois (Sullivan) and the late Robert Ryder in Mt. Kisco, Stretch spent the last 36 years in Port Washington. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Gerry (Bain-Ryder), two sons Michael and Christopher of Tampa, FL, his mother of Mattituck, NY, sister Deborah (Jeffrey) Skovron of Boulder, CO, brother Sean of Newburg, NY, and several nieces and nephews who loved him as the force of nature that he was. His wide-ranging circle of friends knew him as a person of warmth, immediately likable, with a first-rate sense of humor; tenacious in all he undertook.
A graduate of Alfred University, Stretch played football during his college career. He then served as a Captain in the US Army Transportation Corps, as a helicopter pilot and Aviation Maintenance Officer throughout Southeast Asia and was a liaison officer for SEATO nations.
Everyone who knew Stretch has expressed how positively they were touched by him; the mark of a truly great person. A tribute and celebration of Stretch’s life will be held on Nov. 1 at Manhassett Bay Yacht Club from 2-5pm. Stretch’s family requests that memorial contributions be made to The Amsterdam Continuing Care Health System, Inc.- Hospice Fund and sent to The Amsterdam at Harborside, 300 East Overlook, Port Washington, NY 11050 Attn: Finance Dept.
-By Port News staff and the family