GILFORD — After serving a total of 69 years and helping 53 young men reach the level Eagle Scout, Carl Gebhardt and Gary Doucette are retiring from leadership of Daniel Webster Council Boy Scout Troop 243.
The two were feted Wednesday night in a Court of Honor — ostensibly called to recognize some local scouts for their achievements — and it really was a surprise.
"They're probably not happy we're making a fuss about it," said new Scout Master Kurt Webber to the nearly 100 scouts, former scouts, parents, family and friends who gather in the basement of the Gilford Community Church for a potluck supper in their honor.
Gebhardt spent 43 years as an adult leader, 32 of them with Troop 243 in Gilford. He earned his own Eagle Scout ranking in 1956. Both of his sons, Jim and Ken, are Eagle Scouts.
He's been involved in scouting in New Jersey, Missouri and served as Scout Master in Gilford for the past 28 years. During his time, 30 boys have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Doucette has been Troup 243's director, treasurer and trainer for 19 years and earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1966. Both his sons, Derek and Dan, are Eagle Scouts. During his time, 23 boys have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Both men are retired. Gebhardt said he will continue to work in scouting in Gilford. He enjoys hiking and riding his bicycle. Doucette said he's not going any where either but will have more time to enjoy hiking, hunting and fishing.
Each was presented with a Norman Rockwell painting commemorating scouting and a proclamation of thanks from the Gilford Board of Selectmen.
After the ceremony, both said this was a good time to make the transition to a new leadership team because there are good adult leaders with a great deal of experience in Gilford right now.
"I wish I could remember the number of boys who have come and gone," said Gebhardt wistfully.
When asked what one piece of advice they would give to the next leader, Kurt Webber, each said he should be aware that boys are a lot busier now with more structured free time activities than they were in the past with organizations like band, school athletics, and family trips.
"Be flexible," Doucette said, saying many of the boys will come and go and then return again when their schedules permit.