We are saddened to report the passing of Captain John Doswell, Safety Boat Director of the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge since 2001.
“Doswell,” as we called him, ensured the safety of thousands of paddlers who participated in the Liberty Challenge over the past 13 years. Any athlete who has ever paddled the Liberty Challenge has been overseen by John from the lead boat. Paddling in New York Harbor with its shifting swift currents and heavy traffic are some of the many challenges that are seen nowhere else in the world. His considerable knowledge of the harbor and his friendship to a variety of people and organizations who make up New York’s vibrant waterfront community was a great asset to the growth and success of New York Outrigger and the Liberty Challenge.
A US Navy Vietnam War Veteran, his strong connection to the water fueled his passion to convince skeptical New Yorkers to embrace their waterfront at a time when everyone turned away from it. He is a founding Chair of the Friends of Hudson River Park which became instrumental in transforming abandoned piers of a defunct era to a scenic park that has revitalized the west side of Manhattan.
Beyond this, he sat on the boards of a variety of maritime organizations including the Waterfront + Parks Committee, the Working Harbor Committee, North River Historic Ships Society, Save Our Ships New York and the Governors Island Alliance. His involvement not only opened the possibilities for water recreation in our surrounding waterways but also promoted programs and exhibits that educated New Yorkers of our extensive maritime history and the current environmental issues and restoration efforts that surround the island of Manhattan.
Without him, New Yorkers would not have realized the potential of the water around us and the richer quality of life it has brought to our concrete jungle.
Our hearts go out to his wife Jean, his daughter Jhoneen and the entire Doswell family.