The Passing of a Small Town Legend
Lakeville, NY – Conesus Lake
by Chris Rodman
Twenty-five minutes south of Rochester, NY there is a lake that has a rich boating history. Growing up in the 50-60’s spending his summer on “golden shores,” Philip F. Spahn Jr. may have spent some years away from the lake, but he could never stay away too long. A small cottage on Pebble Beach was his summer weekend get-away from the life of an attorney in downtown Rochester.
It was also the docking point for his collection of classic boats. The most notorious, and often used (almost daily) was “Suzy-Q”. She is a 1925 22.5′ Dodge Watercar 822 with the original single-planked bottom. This was his “summer driver” and used for entertaining. He owned two of these Watercars (1925 and a 1929) as well as other classic boats including a 1931 split-cockpit Dodge 21A named “Hurrah”, 1930 triple-cockpit Dodge 25A named “Mohican”, many Chris-Craft runabouts; a Sportsman, two Utilities, a Barrelback, a Deluxe, and others I’m sure I missed.
Just about any person on the lake knew Phil, whether from waiving him down to see his boat, stopping to offer assistance as he worked in the engine compartment, or towing him back to dock! On those days of mechanical issues, he would shift in to his Adirondack chair in the front yard to maintain his tan, share good conversation or his extraordinary knowledge.
Phil could be seen most afternoons and evenings on a summer weekend cruising the blonde “Su-Zee-Q” up and down the lake, cigar in one hand, Bombay Martini on the dash, entertaining guests or cruising with his girlfriend, Sue Halpin, or protégé Steve Martini – who was raised to appreciate the classic wooden boats as well, succeeding in building an amazing Dodge boat collection himself. They would frequent classic boat shows across the U.S. and launch in Clayton, NY occasionally.
After a losing battle with health issues on April 13, 2015 – Phil passed away leaving behind a legendary status, more than just to a small town like Lakeville. The classic boating community has lost a dear friend. Maybe in the years to come, we will see Steve come out from the shallows of “golden shores” in one of the 822’s, to carry on in Phil’s wake.
Sad news today – Our condolences go out to Steve Martini, long-time friend Chris Rodman and the Spahn family for your loss.
For information on services, you can contact Geneseesun.com
Flower arrangements are welcomed and memorial contributions in memory of Phil may be made to the Dodge Boat Association at [email protected] or the Conesus Lake Association, 5828 Big Tree Rd, Lakeville, NY 14480.