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Loveland and the Langes

When you think of Colorado, you probably think of deep, sparkling powder and ski runs that go forever.  You may think of mountain climbing, mountain biking, hiking and whitewater rafting.

And boating?  Maybe not so much.

Yet, the Rock Mountain Classics Chapter of the ACBS was founded in Colorado in 1998 and continues to thrive today.

For the last thirteen years, our first boating event of the season has been the Loveland Shakedown Cruise, held in early June.  This event is held on Lake Loveland in Loveland, Colorado.  Its purpose is to allow members to shake out the cobwebs and work out any bugs before they take their sometimes unpredictable crafts out on bigger, less forgiving water.

This year the RMC calendar has no mention of the Loveland Shakedown Cruise.  Recently the Board of Directors, at the suggestion of member Richard Ball, renamed the Shakedown Cruise.   It is now known as The Tom and Kathy Lange Lake Loveland Regatta, in honor of the two people who suggested it in the first place.

This is the story of Tom and Kathy and the birth of their great idea.

As a child, Tom spent long summer days helping his grandfather pack oakum into the bottoms of Lady of the Lakes wooden fishing boats.  These were used as part of their small, resort rental cabin business.  Tom’s love of water (and the smell of bilge) began right there, and it stayed with him through adolescence into adulthood, even when he lived nowhere near the water.

In 1991, Tom met Kathy, and he was determined to infect his new wife with the “boating bug”.  They spent many summers on Minnesota lakes, restoring and using wooden boats.  They brought their passion for wooden boats with them to Colorado.  They discovered the Rocky Mountain Classics Chapter of the ACBS, with annual boat shows from Vallecito Lake near  Durango, Colorado to Alcova Reservoir in Alcova, Wyoming.  They made many new friends, all with the same passion. 

One weekend, a club friend, Richard Ball, invited the Langes to visit him at his home on Lake Loveland.  It was a typical, perfect Colorado day – bright sunshine, blue skies, and a flat expanse of warm water inviting “just one lap around the lake” that turned into half the day!

From the moment they saw the lake, it reminded Tom and Kathy of the first boat show they ever attended on Fountain Lake in Albert Lee, Minnesota.

Lake Loveland and is located in the middle of town ringed by roads and walkways.   It was a good place for a boat show because people could enjoy the boats from their cars or while strolling around the park.

The Langes

Lake Loveland is a private lake, but the Langes thought it had the same potential.  Though private, Lake Loveland does have a public park with a swim beach on its shores.  It’s adjacent to a main thoroughfare with a clear view of boats on the water.

The Langes

Access to the lake is restricted to home owners and their friends.  Through Rich Ball, permission to hold a fun day on the lake was quickly requested and granted. The Loveland Shakedown Cruise was born.

The Shakedown Cruise generated unbelievable excitement in the club. Tom decided that they needed to have mechanics and wooden boat restoration people in attendance to assist with motor issues, restoration concerns, and just general knowledge about our hobby.

Representative for each area of expertise had their own armbands so new members could find them easily. Food flowed and so did the martinis at Richard’s after 2pm!

There were no set times during which our boats had to be displayed.  Until roughly 2pm, spectators could watch our boats coming and going in and out of the beach area by the park.  The day was all about the fun of boating, and the general public and members alike loved every minute of it.

Tom had built an 8-foot lighthouse with a fully operational rotating light (he stole the rotisserie out of their grill to turn it!)  He and Kathy used that and a  bell to ring people in off the lake for lunch, just like his grandfather did when Tom was a child.

Kids fishing poles and toys were always available.  For several years the Langes designed and donated an event t-shirt to everyone who attended. They provided awards for attendees, posters commemorating the event, and even donated custom denim jackets for a couple very special members.

Richard has allowed the club to invade his beautiful lake home, yard, and multi-level dock and patio on the lake for so many years. On Saturday afternoon, he would set up the open bar (with a tip jar of course!), and he opened his yard up for tents if people wanted to stay overnight. Evening brought a potluck or BBQ dinner around his outdoor fire, followed by anticipation for the morning buffet.

The Langes

Sunday morning, the Langes would set up in the screened summer house and serve breakfast burritos made to order, pancakes (chocolate chip for the kids of course!) and lots of coffee. The first year the Langes made over 40 burritos, and every one of them was eaten.

So many wonderful memories and the most fun Tom and Kathy say they can remember having in all of their years together.

The past few years, the Langes have not been as involved in the event as they once were. Lung cancer has taken one of Tom’s lungs and soon will take his life.

Richard and the RMC have kept the event alive and worked to make it a continuing success. For Tom and Kathy, it is gratifying to know that the “silly” idea they cooked up was not silly at all.  It caught on and is still enjoyed.

After the decision was made to rename event, RMC President, Jeff Dwight, emailed the Langes to let them know that they would no longer be seeing the Loveland Shakedown Cruise on the schedule of events.

“The rest of that message was stunning,” Kathy said of the email. “The Club, on the suggestion of Richard Ball and Doug Brown, decided to rename the event to remember us forever.”

Tom and Kathy are so thankful for the wonderful friends they have here.   This kind act has allowed Tom to know the club's love and appreciation while he still lives, and for Kathy to know he will still be in everyone’s hearts in boating when he can no longer join us on the water.

The Langes

Editor's Postscript: 
While the Langes were very instrumental in the success of our events at Loveland, that is by no means the extent of their contribution to our chapter. 

They’ve served our chapter in so many ways.  Tom served as Vice President, and Kathy was the editor of The Bilge Pump, for which she received an ACBS award.

For years, the Langes were omnipresent at nearly every event.  Whether Grand Lake or Frisco or Alcova, NOTHING can draw a crowd like Tom and Kathy in turn-of-the-century costumes with one of their beautiful wooden canoes or one of their beautiful wooden boats or their beautiful antique bicycle.

At most shows, they would sell posters that they had designed and printed to commemorate the event.  In Grand Lake, where we were prohibited from making sales, Tom and Kathy collected donations which they then donated to the Grand Lake Historical Society.

Several years, they hosted a buffet and auction at their workshop in Boulder, with proceeds going to the RMC treasury.  Often at the end of our annual meeting, Tom would hold another auction – mostly of his own stuff – and again, proceeds would go to our chapter.

That’s the kind of people Tom and Kathy are – boundless energy, boundless generosity, and boundless love.  We are so very lucky to have them as chapter members and friends.