The Legacy of Donald J. Morin
written by Bill Ballard
The antique boating community lost a friend and link to the past on January 10, 1998. Longtime club member, Don Morin was almost 79 years old when he passed away at home with his family at his side.
Don's long career of boat building and design, covered small utilities and runabouts to cabin cruisers. Don was best remembered for the unlimited hydroplanes he built with Les Staudacher that dominated the sport for two decades.
The first unlimited boat they built was "My Sweetie", a John Hacker design. This boat won the 1949 APBA Gold cup championship with "Wild Bill" Cantrell Driving.
The Second Hacker designed unlimited hydroplane they built was the "Miss Pepsi." Powered by two V-12 Allison Aircraft engines mounted nose to nose, driving a common gear box. This boat is in the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. Later boats were built of Ted Jones designs. Later yet, they built boats of their own design.
Those who knew Don would remember him for his strong work ethic and the sheer volume of work he completed. Through the years, he worked with many younger boatbuilders and woodworkers. Don enjoyed dropping in on them in their shops to see what they were building.
Others would remember him as the quiet gentlemen that knew boats inside and out. Every now and then, with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face, he would tell stories of the boats he had built, the places he'd been and the people he'd met. He captivated a younger generation with personal anecdotes about boats and races we had read about in books.
Eight or ten years ago, his boatbuilding career came full circle when he designed and built a two thirds scale replica of "Miss Pepsi." Don and youngest son Dwight spent five years building "Lil Miss Pepsi," they were satisfied with nothing less than perfection. The family enjoyed showing and running this boat all over the country.
There was much more to Don than the boats. He was active in the Boy Scouts, The American Power Boat Association and the Antique Classic Boat Society. With his wife of 51 years, Dorothy, they raised three fine sons, Don, Doug and Dwight. His grandchildren adored him.
Don will be greatly missed. Our condolences to the Morin family.
[Republished from the Water Wonderland Chapter Antique and Classic Boat Society website]
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