You may also add traveling to that list.
The Willow Grove, Syracuse resident talked of his love of sailing, which has taken him and his wife around the world.
“My dad, when I was probably 12 or 13 years old, decided to have a sail boat,” he recalled. They went to Toledo, Ohio, to find that first boat. “You couldn’t find one around here, that’s why I started That Sailboat Place,” the former business owner stated. Sailing provided an opportunity for a lot of bonding.
When Baumgardt graduated from Northwestern University and was trying to figure what he would do to earn a living, the eventual decision was made to open his own business. He felt there was a need in the area and marketed sailboats. “It was a specialty store,” he stated, catering to the sailor. Those customers became close friends who still are today even though he is not involved in sailing as he once was. “It’s a real life changing experience when you get into sailing.”
This also led to his lifetime involvement with the Wawasee sailing community. He served two terms as commodore of the Wawasee Boating Association and for many years was on the board of directors of the Wawasee Yacht Club. He was also a participant in many of the sailboat races. Sailing, explained Baumgardt, is relaxing, “except for the racing.” He said if you want to know what it’s like racing, they say it’s like “standing in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills.”
The couple now owns a 26-foot sailboat many may have seen on the lake. “We go out late afternoons, early evenings and cruise. It’s more social … take friends out.” He did note, however, it has been years since the two of them have taken sailing cruises. During their travel period it was a lot of fun. “I suspect we won’t be doing that anymore,” he noted, pointing out it’s been at least 20 years.
Both he and Clare are licensed Coast Guard captains. “We’ve sailed through the Caribbean, Tahiti, Catalina Islands, but mostly the Caribbean for weeks, months.”
His love for photography also began in his early teens. His father purchased him a Nikon F. He was on the school yearbook and at Northwestern he ran a photo lab his senior year. That is where he met his wife, the former Clare Krueger. “I was teaching a course in photography my senior year and she took the class. That’s how we met,” as he smiled.
He has photographed a lot of their travels, regattas, done street photography, landscapes, “just about everything.” While he doesn’t consider himself a professional, as he doesn’t photograph for pay, he feels he’s more than the advanced amateur. “I have taken workshops in Mexico, Puerto Rico, out west,” he noted adding some workshops have been with National Geographic photographers.
Two maps, one of the United States, the other of the world, are dotted with pins from their travels. While they have traveled a lot in the United States, they have also traveled Europe, Africa, London, Paris, Baltic Straits, Greek Isles, South America, South Africa, Turkey, Belize, Russia and a lot of time in Mexico. “It’s easier to tell you places we haven’t been,” he laughed.
“I enjoy traveling. It ties in with my photography. I love to take pictures wherever we go.”
However, he’s never had an interest of entering any photography contest. “I feel like I try to challenge myself.” He noted the one thing sailing and photography have in common is you “never stop learning or improving. When you reach a plateau you realize you can do a lot better and you get up to the next level.”
Many of his photographs from trips have been burned onto DVDs with music added, or he’ll make prints and give away, sharing with friends. “I enjoy, if I get a good shot and think it’s meaningful, I enjoy making prints and giving it to them (friends).”
He retired last January from J.C. Manufacturing, where he spent the last 25 years after selling That Sailboat Place. Since then he and his wife have been enjoying their love of the outdoors, kayaking, biking, walking “anything you can do to get us outside. We love being on the lake.”
The Indianapolis native grew up coming to the lake during the summers from the age 12 on. When he went to college, his parents sold their Indianapolis home and moved to the lake permanently moving to the Vawter Park area. During his high school and college summers living at the lake, he combined working at Macy’s Wawasee Slip and “playing on the lake.”
While he attended the School of Business at Northwestern, and graduated in 1970 with a degree in business administration, he was the only one in that particular school with a major in philosophy. “If I had to do it over again, who knew computers would turn into what they have.”
During the years he owned That Sailboat Place, he was also busy in the Syracuse community including serving as president of the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce.
Baumgardt noted at the age of 40 he made a life change, selling his business to Doug Anderson, owner of Wawasee Boat Company, and formed Island Marketing, a small manufacturer’s rep partnership specializing in the marine industry. That led to his working for JC Manufacturing as a national sales manager until he retired.
The couple has resided in Willow Grove for the last 33 years. “Lake Wawasee has been a central part of my life over the last 50 plus years and I can’t think of anywhere I would rather spend my time.”
Just recently Baumgardt was appointed to the board of directors of the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation.