An Alumni Story: Westminster during the Vietnam War and Lessons Learned on America’s Great Loop
Above, from left to right, Clay Logan ’70, Sally Logan, Sanci Canella, and James Canella ’71 (Fiji). Jim and Sanci Canella were the Logans’ first guests, joining as crew for five days in Paducah, KY and departing in northern TN. The Canellas have visited with Sally and Clay twice since on the East Coast.
Over the past two years, Clay Logan ’70 and his wife Sally have entertained around 80 guests, including more than 15 Westminster alumni. Staying connected with fellow classmates and fraternity brothers isn’t unusual for a Westminster alum, but how and where the Logans entertain are.
Since setting sail on August 25, 2013 from Louisiana, MO, Sally and Clay are “loopers,” sailing The Great Loop – circumnavigating Eastern North America by water. At various points of their route, guests climb aboard for dinner or a day cruise with the Logans, or sign on to cruise for a few days.
The Great Loop takes between 5,000 and 7,500 miles, depending upon the route used. Currently on the final leg of their trip, with plans to finish in 2016, the Logans are sailing in their yacht, the SaSea Sally, from Charleston, South Carolina, to New York City to Martha’s Vineyard and finally through the Erie Canal, where the SaSea Sally will be stored for the winter.
“Clay is having such a great time, he wants to share it with anyone who has ever touched his life,” says Sally.
Memories of Westminster
“I’ve been a witness to a real bond among Clay’s Westminster friends and him,” says Sally. “I don’t know if it was the fraternity, the College, or military aspect, or just a unique group of guys – but it’s quite a friendship.”
Clay graduated in 1970 from Westminster with a BA in Economics and Business Administration. A member of Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity, he was senior class vice president, a member of the Skulls of Seven, and a ROTC cadet.
“Going to college during the Vietnam War set a tone on campus life that we normally wouldn’t have experienced,” Clay says. “It was a real driver of action to avoid the draft and motivated you to stay in college or get out – enlist – or take ROTC.”
Clay opted for the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and served as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Infantry (1970-71).
“It was a real bonding experience,” he says. “I guest about 40 percent of all Westminster students were in the ROTC program.”
The ROTC experience expanded Clay’s network of friends beyond his fraternity brothers.
“I was a guy from a small town, and Fulton was the big league,” says Clay. “At that time Westminster was all men, and it was great small school. We were all really close.”
Clay estimates 60 to 70 percent of the freshman and sophomore classes were in ROTC, with no obligation to join: “The war was a real backdrop to college, a big influence on a lot of people’s lives.”
Over the years, Clay has stayed in close contact with several Westminster classmates, and Fijis in particular. For almost 40 years, for example, the Logans took part in an annual “summer camp” reunion with Fijis and William Woods alumni.
A Life on the Water
Clay served as president of his family’s business, Stark Bros. Nurseries, until the business was sold in 1994. Founded in Louisiana, MO in 1816, Stark Bros. is famous for marketing Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples.
Clay stayed with the acquiring company until 1999. Following his retirement, he stayed active through various community service organizations, including serving as assistant district governor for Rotary and a city councilman. The dream of buying a boat was constant in the back his mind.
“My dad was an avid boater,” Clay says. “He traveled extensively on inland lakes and rivers. We’ve always boated.”
The trip was all Clay’s idea, according to Sally, and an adventure for which she wasn’t keen to jump aboard.
“It was on my bucket list,” Clay says about The Great Loop. “Initially, my wife was a reluctant looper.”
Watching Clay exhaust his contact list as he searched for a crewmate willing to sign on for the two-year trip, Sally knew her role on board was inevitable.
“Clay has a tendency to be a good visionary but not as good with detail. Guess who’s good at detail?” Sally laughs about their partnership – in marriage and on the boat.
“Once we pulled away from port on August 25, I calmed down and all my apprehension went away,” she says. “I bloom where I am planted, and we’re having a good time –wonderful people, wonderful experiences.”
The SaSea Sally is a 43′ Mainship trawler – a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, 4-door vessel.
“It’s like camping on water,” says Sally.
Their belongings on the boat are minimal, only what they need to function. In the kitchen, they keep a minimum number of utensils and baking equipment, and they shop for consumables.
The couple cites stops in Tampa for the Gasparilla Festival (which they describe as Mardi Gras on water); Washington, D.C. with daily walks around the National Mall and monuments; and the Fort Myers’ Edison Festival of Lights Parade as among their most memorable experiences. They also enjoy the camaraderie they’ve found among fellow loopers. Regardless of the port, they look forward to walking or unfolding the bicycles stored on board to explore the land.
“You get to know a town differently when you approach by water and walk,” Sally says.
“We don’t follow a routine,” Clay says about their life. “Every day is a little different.”
The Logans plan to conclude their Great Loop life in fall 2016. According to the couple, loopers set their own timetable for traveling. During their own excursion, they have met one looper who finished the trip in 6 weeks and a couple who’s been on the Loop for 30 years.
Sally says that living the lifestyle they do on the SaSea Sally has given them time to appreciate the small moments of life.
“Look for little pops of joy,” she says. “Learn to appreciate every sunrise, sunset, every walk in the rain.”
Another lesson they have learned is to be flexible, learning to work with varying boating conditions, rough weather, and a small living space. Sally says they take the good with the bad, and luckily the good outweighs the bad.
“Life’s all about Plan B – and C, D, E, F, and G,” she says. “Plan A most of the time doesn’t pan out, and life’s usually more fun, successful, and rewarding with Plan B anyway.”
Supporters of the Westminster Fund, the Logans are members of True Blue Society, gaining recognition for annual gifts to Westminster for 15 or more consecutive years. Their son John graduated from Westminster in 2006.
Follow their Great Loop adventure: http://saseasally.blogspot.com/.