When Eric was 13, he and his father, Richard spent three painstaking years handcrafting the rowing shell. The shell was built in the basement of the family home where Richard had an extensive workshop in the basement. There, father and son built the shell together – of many things they made, the biggest item ever, in terms of length anyway. The shell was constructed of 1/16th inch thick cedar, in three layers over the mold. Two layers were put down diagonally and one lengthwise. Each strip was cut specially to fit just right, and stapled to the mold while the glue hardened. Then the staples were taken out, and the process repeated. Each layer was laminated to the layer below with epoxy. Initials reading RTL carved into the shell was a finishing touch.
It was a time consuming and lengthy process but worth it when the family spent countless hours rowing together on the
; spending time together and creating long lasting memories. Jean, Eric’s sister reminisces, “Early mornings were the best times to be out there, when the lake was like glass and mist was rising up out of the bay. I even have beautiful pictures from my wedding day of my father and other family using the shell on the lake.” Great Sacandaga Lake
Then tragically in December 1991, Richard died following a car accident. Shortly after in 1992, Eric’s mother, in shock over her husband’s death. made the tough decision to sell the rowing shell. While Mission Possible Investigations was able to track down the woman who originally purchased the rowing shell from the Loews that’s where the trail runs cold. All that’s known at this time is that the shell was resold in the Capital District area a few years after the original sale in 1992. Little to nothing is known about the rowing shell’s current location-- a fact that saddens the family and frustrates investigators.
Mission Possible Investigations continues to look for the rowing shell, following up on the few leads left and contacting some rowing associations as a final option. Investigators are asking for community support in locating the shell. The last known purchase date was in the mid-1990s and was purchased in the Capital District.
Jean, Eric’s sister expressed the meaning of finding the rowing shell for their family, “The shell is a piece of my father. It was something he worked on, loved, enjoyed and was immensely proud of. I know I can never see him rowing his shell again on the lake, and that breaks my heart.” Jean adds, “What I want now is to see my brother, my children, who never met their grandfather, and others who knew and loved my father, gliding across the water in his shell. In a way, it would be bringing a piece of him back.”