A Sad Farewell To A Fellow Woody Boater – Hank The Plank


Hank The Plank – Photo Jim Trumbull

Long time fellow Woody Boater Mike Mayer reports in on some sad news about his Father and best friend. Here is Mikes report.

On October 5, 2017 Woodyboaterville lost another great man. Fred aka “Hank the Plank” Mayer had battled leukemia and its related blood disorders for many years. Two and a half years ago he received a stem cell transplant and with that a new lease on life.

Hank and his great sense of humor that he handed down to Mike for sure

We made the most of the past couple years, going to boat shows around the west, exploring lakes and rivers and traveling as a family. After a two week stay in the hospital, he passed away peacefully in his wife arms. He was 70 years old and has touched a lot of people and boats in the hobby. I was fortunate to work with my dad for the past few years in my shop Lake Oswego Boat Company out in Portland.

How lucky to be able to work on a shared passion with your father? Wow!

We had a lot of fun together and got a lot of work done. He will surely be missed but will live on in every boat I touch, because if it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be in this great hobby. I learned a lot from him and his memory will live on.

Hank and his planks! Photo Jim Trumbull

The love of Mahogany runs deep in the Mayer family – Photo Jim Trumbull

27 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Very sad news. 🙁 “Hank” was an important part of the WoodyBoater community here in the Fingerlakes and on Keuka before he moved out west to be with family. He was one of the big backers of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum before it even had a location.

    My condolences to the Mayer family.

  2. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    My condolences to the Mayer family. Had heard of “Hank the Plank” way before I knew Mike and never put them together. Spending this week with my Dad.

  3. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mike, Joanne and their families. Fred was a great guy with a terrific sense of humor (look at the names of some of his boats) and a very talented and serious craftsman. He was very generous with his time as an active member of the Wine Country ACBS chapter and someone I always looked forward to running into. We were sad to see him leave for the northwest, but understood the reasons, as family is a number one priority. Fred was also a drummer and I remember him inviting me to sit in with his band at one of the Niagara Chapter “Dry Rot” parties-another example of his generous spirit.

    I’ll keep the picture of his ready smile and the sweet sound of the flathead V-8 in “Mumbles” as he piloted it in my memories. Our condolences to Mike and Joanne. I’m saddened by the news, but uplifted by the privilege of having know “Hank” and considering him a friend.

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Sorry to say I never got to meet Hank in person.

    I am glad that you, Mike, had a final few years to appreciate his company. Though I am sure it was a difficult time I think knowing the end is near can give us a better perspective and appreciation of what little time we really have. As I write this my eyes are leaking for your loss.

    God Bless!

    • Mike W
      Mike W says:

      As you said, you were lucky to spend much time together but it’s still hard to get past. Hang in there.

  5. David Ashley
    David Ashley says:

    Very sad indeed…”Hank” was always free with advice, direction, a helping hand, guidance, and friendship. When I lived in Buffalo, and whenever I would run into him in the years after. Watching Mumbles come together was fascinating for me, and many others, in the old Pierce Arrow building. Thank You for sharing your knowledge, love, and passion for the hobby…Rest In Peace…

  6. Mike Green
    Mike Green says:

    It was always great to spend time with both of you guys and he will surely be missed. He was a great man and Mike you were very lucky to share a passion together with your Dad and also to pass that onto your son. Boats have a way of bringing and keeping families together for sure.

  7. Tom Gruenauer
    Tom Gruenauer says:

    I was very fortunate to call Fred a friend of mine. His love boats was surpassed only by his love of family.
    My sincere condolences to Joanne and Mike’s family. Rest in peace my friend.

  8. Tim Robinson
    Tim Robinson says:

    I had the privilege to judge with Fred a few years back at a show in Portland. I had never met the gentelman before and did not know his name was Fred. So all day long I called him Hank. We had a great time judging together and his humor made the day a lot of fun. We enjoyed a few beers together after the judging and I could tell he was a good guy. RIP Fred/Hank the plank.

  9. Tom Horn
    Tom Horn says:

    I was so sorry to hear of your dads passing this morning. I can’t remember seeing your dad without a smile on his face which says a lot about a person. You were lucky, as you probably know, to have spent so much time with your dad these last few years. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  10. Ron in Seattle
    Ron in Seattle says:

    Mike, my condolences to you and your family. So happy to hear you were able to have him by your side at your shop. Life is to short, let’s go boating. I think Hank would like us to do that.

  11. Richard Daley
    Richard Daley says:

    Though I never met you father I know by the comments he was a special guy.
    Your Canadian friends extend there condolences to you and your family at this difficult time.

  12. Joanne Mayer
    Joanne Mayer says:

    It has been a pleasure and an honor to have spent the last 20 years of my life with such an interesting man! Prior to meeting Fred, I never knew the world of wooden boats existed. Being involved in such a close knit world, we have met many friends and have developed many endearing friendships. Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and sincere condolences. I gives me great comfort to know he has made such a lasting impact!

  13. Carla
    Carla says:

    My deepest condolences to you and your family, Mike. It always made me smile when I saw you and Hank at a boat show. It was easy to witness the admiration you had for your father. He will be missed by many; however, his legacy lives us in our beloved hobby.

  14. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Thanks everyone. Like Joanne said, it means a lot to us to get these comments and shared memories. The shop “Hank-ism’s” shall live on!

    FYI…the shot with the cardboard shoe covers was to cover his feet while he was welding. I was on fire watch. I’ve never met anyone more creative and talented at solving problems or making due when the “right” tool wasn’t available. We spent a few minutes discussing whether getting a hot spark on your sock would be better than starting your cardboard shoe cover on fire.

  15. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Hey Mike, We’re so sorry to hear this news – Our prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family. I only got to meet Hank once – at last year’s symposium, but knew immediately where your love of our hobby was born. He will live on, and I look forward to toasting his legacy with you sometime!

  16. Jack Weibel
    Jack Weibel says:

    Mike & family,
    Fred was a personal friend for over 25- years. He will be missed by all who knew him.
    Peace …

  17. Lee Ann Leo
    Lee Ann Leo says:

    Oh Poppy. I miss you. I miss you when I look out onto my garden and I miss you when I snuggle my pugs. Loved forever and never forgotten! ❤️

  18. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Sorry to hear about Fred “Hank the Plank”s passing. As a budding newsletter editor and article writer back in the day, I had a chance to read his column in the complementary newsletter I would get from reciprocating chapters. This was before I had ever met Mike. I got a lot of good information and maybe even “copped” a few of his stories with a tweek here or there. He will be missed but appreciated for the contributions he made to this hobby. RIP

  19. Ted Grulikowski
    Ted Grulikowski says:

    So sorry to learn of your dad’s passing. We remember the old days at the Buffalo Shows listening to the “band” and enjoying the company of many woodyboaters..Fred will be kept in our prayers.

  20. Jack Mayeaux
    Jack Mayeaux says:

    I am grateful to have been able to meet and spend some time with Hank. He was fun to work with and fun to just hang out with. We even played a little blues together one night. My deepest condolences to Mike, Joanne and to all his family and friends.

  21. Mo Sherrill
    Mo Sherrill says:

    Hi Mike — So sorry to hear about your Dad’s passing. I have great memories along with “JohnnyV” of the times spent at Wine Country Classic Boats events. Those were great days were we really enjoyed each other’s company. “Mumbles” was a special boat that I will always remember. It’s been many years since I’ve seen you or your Dad but time hasn’t dulled the memories of you (as a younger person) and your Dad! Best to you and your family.

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