Member Profile – Don Veihmeyer

Joined: ACBS National 1981; Northern California / Lake Tahoe Chapter 1983; Signature #3, founding Charter Member NC/ Tahoe Chapter Board Director, 1989 > 1998, Event Chair: Delta Cruise, 1989 > 1998

First Boating Smiles: 1939, South Lake Tahoe

Boats owned & restored: 44

Current Boats owned:  1936 22’ Garwood Runabout, 1951 18’ Chris Craft Riviera, 1953 18’ Chris Craft Riviera, 1947 16’ Chris Craft Special Runabout, 1956 17’ Chris Craft Custom Runabout, 1956 17’ Chris Craft Custom Runabout, 1960 18’ Chris Craft Continental, and yes, they are all for sale.

Home town: Davis, CA

Married: Anne Rowley, deceased, 2005

Children: Daughter Carol Harvey, Santa Ana, CA, Son Dan Veihmeyer, Santa Maria, CA

Boating Buddies: Bill and Nancy Kehoe

Retired: 1980, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Current Interests: My family, my home, and ‘sniffing’ beautiful mahogany sawdust!

Don Veihmeyer was boating before classic boating was classic, and our Chapter was a Chapter!

He is a 1981 founding national ACBS member, and is the third signature on our Chapter’s Charter in 1983. Don Veihmeyer is our 92 year ‘young’ member you see at our events.  He is shy and not real quick to tell you how long he’s been messing around with old boats. When we recently visited Don at his El Dorado home and shops, Bill had called ahead.  Don’s shop and storage buildings were all swept and cleaned up. Yet, when you stand there and look around absorbing all the sights and flavorsof his ‘world,’ you quickly realize, all over the shop floors are the ‘patina paint and epoxy stain stories’ of some of the 44 classic boats passing through his 35 years of “retirement” restorations.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet and talk with Don Veihmeyer, don’t let this enlightening opportunity slip by you this weekend. Here are a few parts of his childhood Tahoe stories.

“My father built a summer cabin at South Lake Tahoe in 1936. I was 14 years old. (born 12-5-23) When I was 16, I talked my father into buying a boat. He and my mother shopped around the lake and bought a used, custom built 16’ mahogany runabout. I had never been in a speed boat before. I was on cloud 9!” “When I turned 18, I got a summer job at the South Tahoe Young’s Bijou Beach Resort working in the store. I spent much off time around the beach and pier, and of course, driving our family’s 16’ boat. I became friendly with the speed boat ride concession owner, Mr. McFarland. When I turned 21 in 1944, he offered me a job as a driver. What a great summer job, – to get paid to drive beautiful speed boats!” “At the time I got the job, Mr. McFarland was using a 1929 Garwood RB and a 1939 19’ Custom RB as ride boats. During that first summer I worked as a driver of the big old Kermath 6 (in the Garwood) “blew.” He replaced that boat with another Chris – a 1939 Custom RB. Between this time and 1947, Mr. McFarland added two more boats; a 1946 20’ ChrisCustom RB, and in 1947 we got the 20’ (Canadian) Ventnor, which came out with the big fin on the back – like Bob Mount’s boat. The public really liked it, but it wasn’t the most comfortable riding boat we had. We all felt the 20’ Custom was the best ride boat for the business; roomier and safer in the rough water.”  Coincidentally, one of the above 1939 ‘ride boats’ (then named Miss Bijou) has come back into our ACBS show boat groups. She is now Annabelle, 1939 19’ Custom RB, a first Place award winning boat, owned a restored by (member) Jack McManus.”

And so Don and our Chapter’s story continues.  Other parts of his interview will be published in the future.

Photo and article by: Wayne Mooers, Chapter Historian