Gould A. "Stretch" Ryder III knew how to make a good impression on his bride-to-be. On one of their first dates, the pilot flew her around Manhattan in a helicopter.
"It was very impressive," said Gerry Bain-Ryder, who recalled circling the Statue of Liberty with him in the late 1970s.
Ryder, a longtime Port Washington resident who helped start the community's annual HarborFest 23 years ago, died from esophageal cancer on Oct. 24. He was 65.
Born in Mount Kisco, Westchester County, Ryder spent summers sailing out of Mattituck, racing and giving lessons. He graduated from upstate Alfred University, where he played on the football team.
Ryder joined the Army in 1970 and served as a captain, flying helicopter missions during the Vietnam War, his family said.
A prolific sailor, he traveled the world from Bermuda to Hawaii. He was a crew member on Courageous, led by Ted Turner, victor of the 1977 America's Cup, according to his family.
He married in 1982 and raised two sons in Port Washington.
There, Ryder built a business called The Dinghy Den, a shop for boat parts and rigging, and later joined Thomson Industries Inc., where he worked as a corporate helicopter pilot, and later as general manager of Ventura Air Services in Farmingdale, the family said.
For his two sons, he was a fixture at volleyball, basketball and lacrosse games. He had an eye for detail, videotaping games and strategizing with his boys.
Both sons now live in Tampa, Fla. Michael Ryder, 27, is a lacrosse coach at the University of Tampa; Chris Ryder, 23, works as an assistant video coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He wasn't a stand-and-watch-type of guy," Michael Ryder said of his father. "He always had to be involved in some kind of way."
Besides his passions for sailing and flying, Gould Ryder was an active community leader, advocating for environmental protections and boater's safety.
In addition to his wife and sons, survivors include his mother, Lois Ryder of Mattituck; a sister, Deborah Skovron of Boulder, Colo.; and a brother, James Sean Ryder of Newburg.
A memorial service was held Friday at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club.