Bob Slocum first sailed Lake Minnetonka as a young boy back in the 1940s. On what he says was a “whim,” Slocum’s mother enrolled him and his brother in sailing lessons one summer—sparking a passion that would last a lifetime and eventually span multiple generations.
“I didn’t know one end of a sailboat from the other,” Slocum said. “My mother hired someone named Doug West, from Excelsior. He came out with this big 60-foot boat, and my brother got on with a smile. I was scared to death.”
Another instructor during Slocum’s early sailing days was Ward Burton, a Lake Minnetonka sailing legend and one of the sport’s elite competitors during the middle part of the 20th century.
Now 80, Slocum doesn’t get out on the water much anymore, but on Thursday he was back at the Wayzata Yacht Club boarding a sailboat—this time with his son and grandson.
The Wayzata Yacht Club is familiar turf for Slocomb, who is a past commodore, serving two stints—1983 and 1988-1989. He remains an official member.
“I don’t get back very often anymore, so this is good for me,” Slocomb said. “I was interested to see how it’s coming along, and it looks like it’s doing just fine.”
Slocomb is also a long-time member of the and said he has many fond memories and friends from each.
“There was a boat I had called the J22, and it raced out of both and was featured in both clubs,” he said.
Thursday’s sail was made possible by LifeSprk, a geriatric care provider headquartered in Edina, who were connected to the couple by the family’s physician.
Bob's wife, Meg, has battled a variety of health issues in recent years, requiring several hospital stays. In a common scenario, Bob became her primary care provider at home.
While Bob wanted to help his wife, he wasn’t in a position to care for her intense medical needs, nor was he able to fulfill roles of housekeeper and cook. Consumed by just “getting by” every day, any thoughts of enjoying life and igniting their passions disappeared.
A life care manager and registered nurse helped Bob and Meg to identify what their needs were, develop a list of priorities and craft a care plan.
The first priority was treating Meg’s acute needs—a routine task for an RN. The second priority was getting help to prepare meals and take care of the needs of the house, so an experienced caregiver was brought on board.
Once the two primary priorities were being managed by Lifesprk staff, sparks began to fly—in a good way. Meg’s hospitalizations went from three hospitalizations in six months to zero, saving money and preserving quality of life.
Bob’s stress as the primary caregiver and homemaker dissipated, a preventative measure that directly translated into an improved quality of life.
Meg, too, was finally off the healthcare roller coaster and once again enjoying life.
That’s when Bob began opening up and sharing stories about their life and things the couple once enjoyed. With the daily stress lifted, he was able to share his passion that had been stifled while he was taxed with the role of caregiver.
His unbridled passion: sailing.
Bob spoke about loving the wind in his face, the speed of the boat and the feeling of peace. As he talked about sailing, his face lit up with excitement.
“I’m not able to do it anymore because it’s too hard for me to get in and out of the boat, but I sure did love it,” he said.
Bob’s life care manager, Denise, knew exactly what she needed to do: figure out a way to get Bob on a sailboat again.
After a multi-pronged effort to organize a sail, Bob, his son, Peter, and grandson, Cavan, set sail Thursday with Steve Bren in a sonar sailing boat courtesy of the Wayzata Yacht Club.
Bob once again felt the wind in his face, the speed of the boat and experienced the tranquility that comes from being on the water.
“This is why I live, this is why we started the company,” Lifesprk CEO Joel Theisen said. “We’re here to spark live, not just provide healthcare. We work to bring back not only health, but spirit.”
As he disembarked after a sail from Wayzata to Excelsior, Bob said he felt invigorated and rejuvinated.
“I feel 20 years younger,” he said.