A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

20′ banner made by Tim Stanton.

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room at Gunderson’s Funeral Home about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The memories of Bill shared by those who had preceded Billy were unique and moving. It was a privilege to witness a group of highly accomplished individuals speak in awe of their friend. Here are a few highlights from the people invited by emcee Don Sanford to share their best stories.

Bill organized the building of a new hull for the world’s largest iceboat, Rick Hennig’s DEUCE. Rick recounted that experience with great affection and humor. When Bill saw the semi-truck full of Sitka Spruce roll into the shop parking lot, he turned to Rick and said, “That’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

Bill’s neighbor said that when Bill came over to watch him tinker in his garage, it was “like God himself coming to watch a mere mortal.”

“Yeah, I know a little about that.” America’s Cup veteran, Larry Malik, recalled Bill’s typically understated reply when asked if he could fix a photo processing machine during an AC Australian campaign. Larry shared the famous story of the day Bill took the film of the AC boat to the one-hour photo store, where he learned that the store’s processing machine was on the fritz. Bill fixed the machine and came back with the pictures.

Lon Schoor, Bill’s long-time Mendota Yacht Club A Scow partner, marveled at no matter how complicated the project; Bill was so organized in his thoughts that he didn’t have to write anything down and always made the deadline. He left us laughing with a story about how Bill schemed how they would sell the idea of buying an A Scow to their wives, Donna and Mauretta. Bill told Mauretta that Lon had purchased the boat, while Lon was to tell Donna that it was Bill’s boat.

Dr. Kyle Metzloff, a sailor, ice sailor, and UW Professor of Industrial Metal studies, spoke about Bill’s genius and ability to pick up new and complicated ideas. Having never dealt with computers, he learned to operate a mini CNC mill for creating scale model Mattison Circus parts. At an older age, Bill figured out computers.

Peter Harken shared his amazement at Bill and Paul Krueger’s work ethic. They never wasted a minute, not even in the bathroom where Peter assumed “they had a drill press installed.” Peter acknowledged those who traveled from afar, including New Jersey Skeeter sailor Dan Clapp and America’s Cup alumni from San Diego.

Sailing legend Buddy Melges came to the podium, fixing his steely blue eyes on Mauretta and the family for a full minute, not saying a word, holding the audience in his hand while he made us wait. Buddy spoke about their America’s Cup days and how remarkable it was for a guy who came from the Scow world; Bill could make a 12-meter sail faster. “He did not sail on it, but he made it faster when he worked on it.” (Later, I heard stories in the bar about how at least one of Bill’s modifications caused a stir with some AC engineers, but they calmed down when the boat speed increased.)

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The last to speak at Bill’s Celebration of Life, Billy had to follow some esteemed acts, giants of the sailing world, who had shared stories from the podium of the man’s genius. Billy’s poignant closing remarks emphasized the private family side of Bill and his devotion to his wife of 65 years, Mauretta, their children, Lynn and Billy, and their grandchildren.

“I think it is time for a dipper.”

On our way to Gundersons, Don Anderson and I delivered cakes to the Breakwater for the post-memorial reception sponsored by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club and Mendota Yacht Club. The manager surprised us with the news that Mauretta had called with instructions that she would be picking up the bar tab. On Monday, unsure of the damage, the two yacht clubs offered to pitch in with the bill. Mauretta said no, adamant that Bill would have insisted on it. Thanks, Bill.
Debra Rosten Whitehorse

Home of the Volleyball(?) Champs
Nothing Fickler
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Mattison Gathering May 7 @ Breakwater – Following Service

Mattison Gathering May 7 @ Breakwater – Following Service

He built those! Bill Mattison and six Class A Skeeters on Geneva Lake, Fontana, WI in 1991.

Following Bill Mattison’s Memorial Service, the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club cordially invites the entire sailing community to gather with us at the Breakwater Restaurant in Monona, WI. (4-minute drive from Gunderson Funeral Home). We’ll celebrate the man who touched us all in countless ways, through our shared love of sailing, on waters both hard and soft. The man who’s workshop was always open to any sailor in need. The man whose legend is even bigger than his heart. Share your memories, share your stories, share some laughs, and undoubtedly a few tears. They just don’t make’m like Bill anymore.

Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Remembers Bill Mattison
Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Breakwater Restaurant
6308 Inland Way, Monona, WI 53713
Link to Map

Bill Mattison Celebration of Life & Time of Sharing
2 PM – 4 PM
Service 4 PM – 5 PM
Saturday, May 7, 2022
Gunderson Funeral Home
5203 Monona Drive, Monona, WI
Link to Map

Eight Bells: Bill Mattison M134

Eight Bells: Bill Mattison M134

Bill Mattison, who has had more influence on the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club, our members, and ice sailing in general, than anyone,  has passed on. Mauretta Mattison just called to say that her husband, Bill Mattison, passed on Monday evening, April 25. Please make plans to attend Bill’s Celebration of Life on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Gunderson Funeral Home, 5203 Monona Drive, Monona. Mauretta, Bill, and Lynn want everyone to know that they look forward to hearing stories about Bill and celebrating his extraordinary life. If you have stories or memories to share, I am gathering them for another post. Please email or call me.

Harry Allen

Harry Allen

Bill And Harry Allen Lake Minnetonka Dn Sailing

Brothers Bill and Harry Allen on Lake Minnetonka.

Via Mike Bloom

Harold “Harry” Allen (DN 2452) died Tuesday night, September 2, 2021, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Harry was a talented helmsman who raced multiple classes of iceboats in the winter and raced E and A scows in the summer. And, if Harry ever needed a crew, more often than not, one of his three daughters was on board sailing with him.

As much as anything, Harry loved to iceboat. Harry raced Nites, DNs and his Stern Steerer. Harry was as popular as he was generous. If iceboaters were setting up on Minnetonka, 99% of the time the boats were in front of Harry’s house. There was not a more welcoming or friendly sailor on the ice.

Harry’s passing leaves a huge hole in the Minnetonka sailing community. The DN fleet sends condolences to his wife LeeAnne, daughters Emily, Katie and Mary, and to the rest of the Allen Family.

May Harry’s memory sail on.

Richard Lichtfeld: 1935 – 2021

Richard Lichtfeld: 1935 – 2021

“Remembered For Doing It All”

Richard “Dick” Lichtfeld of Monona, WI, passed away this week. He was a generous Renaissance man who filled his garages and storage sheds with unusual finds, vintage cars, and iceboats. He was the caretaker of a distinguished historic stern-steerer iceboat, MISS MADISON, the last “Madison-style” iceboat ever built by Carl Bernard in 1927. He kept her in period condition and raced in regattas a few times but was happiest sailing her in front of the Madison skyline on Lake Monona. Sometimes he pulled his kids and grandkids out of school to join him for a day of ice sailing because he knew that sailable ice was fleeting and the importance of living life to the fullest. In 2016, Dick enthusiastically opened his property for a 4LIYC iceboat show. I’ve posted photos of that weekend below. When the ice calls to you in the middle of the week, take the day off in honor of Dick Lichtfeld.

Here’s a video I put together from footage that Dick had given me a few years back.




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