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May 21st, 2014

Rowing History Comes Alive at Local Club

Newburgh Free Academy High School rowers and medal winners in the HVRL Novices Championship, Ameer Roberts, Niles Skelton, Davonte Davis and Brian Valois. Photo: Mrs. Lo

NEWBURGH – On Saturday, May 17th, seven descendants of the Ward Brothers traveled from Pennsylvania to the Ward Brothers Memorial Park in Newburgh to present a 115-year-old priceless silver megaphone, which had belonged to Ellis F. Ward, the first coach of the University of Pennsylvania Crew Team, to the Newburgh Rowing Club.

"The Rudloff Family was pleased to present the silver megaphone that belonged to Ellis F. Ward, coach of the University of Pennsylvania Crew Team from 1879 to 1912, to the Newburgh Rowing Club, licensees of the Ward Brothers Memorial Park," said Stephen J. Rudloff, after the ceremony. "The University of Pennsylvania presented the megaphone to Ellis F. Ward in 1899, in recognition of his skill as a rowing coach and in appreciation of his many victories. It was my father’s wish and intention to travel to the Ward Brothers Memorial Park in Newburgh, NY to make the presentation in March of 2003, but he passed away in January of 2003 before he could complete his journey. I gave him my word that I would take care of it for him. He felt that other people should see this item and appreciate what the Ward Brothers had accomplished for the sport of rowing. My father’s name was Stephen D. Rudloff. His grandfather was Ellis Ward, one of the Ward Brothers who rowed on the Hudson River for years, and his mother’s name was Pauline Ward."

The Ward Brothers were William Henry, Charles, Joshua and Gilbert, of Middlehope, NY, part of a family of 14 children, including Ellis F. Ward. The Ward Brothers were declared World Champions of Rowing in 1871, after racing in venues from Newburgh, then an international center for the sport of rowing, to Boston, to England. On September 25, 1865, the Ward Brothers challenged the Biglin Brothers to race on a 5-mile course at Sing Sing on the Hudson River, a race which they won and which the Newburgh Rowing Club commemorates each year with the "Great 5-Mile Kayak Challenge on the Hudson River", which had 200 entries last year, said Coach Ed Kennedy, Programs Director for the Newburgh Rowing Club.

Coach Kennedy then presented the Rudloff Family with a wooden oar, signed by members of the Newburgh Rowing Club and the NFA High School crew team.

"We are deeply honored to receive this priceless piece of rowing history," said Coach Ed Kennedy, during the Hudson Valley Rowing League’s Novices Championship Rowing Regatta. "We will keep it in the Boathouse until the end of the Spring Racing season and then we will transfer it over to the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, NY, where it will be properly archived, viewed and admired for generations to come. We will commission a smaller replica to hang at the Boathouse, along with the beautiful materials presented to us today by the Rudloff Family."

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