The Gustafson Award is presented annually to a GSMR member for their significant dedication and contributions to the betterment of the club. As was announced at the Christmas dinner at Lake Lure, the 2021 awardee is Webmaster Ralph Griffith. Since Ralph was not able to attend the dinner, outgoing President Keith fisher and incoming President David parker presented the award to him at his shop. Congratulations and thanks to Ralph!
Thanks also to Hulon McCraw for the following history of the origin of the Gustafson Award.
Meet the GUSTAFSON’S, Robert “Bob” & Dolly, Charter Members of GSMR.
Bob and Dolly were native New Yorkers, who upon retiring, settled in Waynesville, NC. Bob loved the antique auto hobby and enjoyed driving and touring his A-Model. His passion for the hobby started at a young age and became his life’s employment. Bob owned with a partner( I think his brother) a machine shop in Long Island, NY. Bob became a master machinist at pouring Babbitt, a soft porous metal used in early engines as the piston rod bearing. He developed this niche while rebuilding his A-Model engine, soon it became a major source of income for the business.
Bob handled the manufacturing of Babbitt and rebuilding of Babbitted engines. His reputation for quality workmanship and product spread rapidly around the world. Customers worldwide began shipping their engines to Bob. I remember him speaking of the number of V12 and V16 engines he had rebuilt for dignitaries and governments around the world.
When Bob decided to retire and sell the business his partner bought him out. However the sale did not include the Babbitt forming and engine rebuilding since the partner knew nothing about that part of the business. Bob retained that aspect and moved it to Waynesville upon retirement. The new business was in a much smaller scale but he continued to serve the hobby as much as possible.
I remember asking Bob one day if he had thought about training someone to continue his work for the hobby. He replied he had but could not find anyone interested in learning the process or interested in it. He challenged me to find someone, anyone that would be interested and said he would devote the time and effort to train them. It didn’t take me long to understand what Bob had gone through. I found no one, not even two nephews of mine. I offered to pay their expenses for travel, if they would accept Bob’s offer.
Unfortunately our hobby lost a fine gentleman, hobbyist and much needed talent in January, 2000. To honor Bob’s dedication and contributions to our club and hobby the GUSTAFSON AWARD was approved by the board to honor a like member each year.