Died: January 23, 2003
Married: Mildred (Mili) Li
William Garrison Distin, Jr., known as "Mo", the son of William G. Distin, Sr., was the owner of Branch & Callanan. He designed and built a number of beautiful speedboats for the Distin Boat Company that are now quite rare. He was also a Dartmouth ski captain and member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic ski squad, though he did not compete. 1 He was a World War II veteran.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 30, 2003
Tri-Lakes lose respected member of community
SARANAC LAKE - William Garrison Distin, who was known throughout the Tri-Lakes for exemplary service to the community, passed away Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003 at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake after a long illness. He was born Feb. 24, 1922, the second son of Ethel and William Distin.
Distin was affectionately known as "Mo," a nickname taken from the comic strip, "Little Mo, the Mighty Midget."
Interested in boats from a young age, he built a motorboat at the age of 16 and competed in the outboard marathon race on the Hudson River from Albany to New York, as well as countless other boat and sailing races throughout the course of his life.
Distin was educated in the Saranac Lake School District, at Northwood School and graduated from Dartmouth, where he was captain of the ski team.
A veteran of World War II, Distin was a pilot in the United States Air Force, entering the Airborne Southeast Training Command in 1943 and flying P40s. He had a passion for flying that resulted in his owning and flying his Cessna Turbo 210 around-different regions of the country.
Distin excelled in sports including tennis, boating and bicycling, but especially enjoyed skiing.
As a skier, he was a four-event man, having participated in jumping, downhill, slalom and cross country. He was elected to the 1948 United States Olympic Ski Team without having to try out. Red Smith, a sports columnist with the New York Times wrote of this achievement, "This was like going to heaven without having to die."
Instead of competing in the Olympics, Distin married Mili Lee [sic: Li] of Glen Cove on April 31, 1948.
Following his marriage, Distin went into business with his brother Robert, designing and building inboard motorboats. In his spare time, he designed and built the famous Distin houseboat.
After the brothers broke up their business, Distin then went to work for Branch and Callanan, a construction, company based in Saranac Lake. After managing it for seven years, he bought the company. He designed and built many camps around the Adirondack Park.
He served on the Trudeau Institute's Board of Directors. With Dr. Francis B. Trudeau, Jr., he helped plan the institute's campus. Distin also served on the board of directors for the Li Foundation, Saranac Lake Key Bank and Saranac Lake General Hospital. He was also the co-founder of the Lake Kiwassa Shore Owners Association and served as chairman of V.I.P. services for the alpine ski events during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Distin loved sailing and initiated the Sunday Sunfish Regatta Races on Lake Kiwassa. He competed in these races and in the Clamata Regatta Races in Lake Placid.
He had an interest at ornithology and knew most of the species of birds in the area. He once kept a baby hummingbird that was not able to fly alive for six months, feeding it sugar water and protein formula. He was also an avid gardener.
Distin was a member of the Saranac Lake Rotary Club and welcomed women into the membership.
In the early 1960s, Distin took a trip around the world with his wife, visiting Cambodia before hostilities developed. In his life, he also enjoyed visits to various European destinations and to China.
Distin is survived by his wife and three nieces.
A memorial service will be held in the summer.
Donations may be made in his memory to the National Parkinson's Foundation, High Peaks Hospice, Trudeau Institute or the Adirondack Medical Center in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 29, 1974
Guild Gleanings — Home Town Jottings, August 1947 — "The first water-ski meet, sponsored by the Saranac Lake Ski Club, was held on Crescent Bay August 10th before a crowd of over 400 enthusiasts. An exhibition was put on by W.G. Distin, Jr., Saranac Lake's representative on the 1948 Olympic Ski Team."
1. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 26, 1957