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Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 05:19:55 :

San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, November 19, 2001
A 22

Mary Bancroft
Chronicle Staff Report

Mary L. "Lucy" Bancroft, a female pioneer in the charter sailing boat business and well known in San Francisco yachting circles, died Thursday at her home in San Francisco after a long illness. She was 75.

Mrs. Bancroft was born in Redlands (San Bernardino County) and grew up in San Bernardino. At the age of 19 she married John E. Bancroft, and they moved to San Francisco, where he attended medical school and became an orthopedic surgeon in the U.S. Army.

From then on, Mrs. Bancroft, a new Army wife, led a peripatetic life. She learned to love traveling and instilled in her three daughters the notion that moving their entire household every two to three years should be viewed as an adventure.

In 1969, the Bancrofts returned to San Francisco and Dr. Bancroft soon retired from the Army and went into private practice. Mrs. Bancroft, with her daughters grown and out of the house, worked a few years as an interior designer and enjoyed her life as a young grandmother.

But her real passion was sparked in the early 1970s after she heard one of her daughter's friends talk about a group of people who were about to make a transatlantic crossing from the Virgin Islands to Gibraltar on a 78-foot schooner.

Within weeks, Mrs. Bancroft, who had never before sailed, signed onto the crew and found herself doing 4 a.m. watches at the helm. That trip inspired her love for boats and a search for one of her own.

In 1977, when she was 51, she bought a classic 103-foot wooden schooner, "Fair Sarae," and began a charter business that sailed the Caribbean during the winter and the New England coast during the summer. She made numerous friends in boating circles on both coasts and in the Caribbean. In San Francisco, she joined the St. Francis Yacht Club, and, according to her daughters, successfully challenged the club's long-tradition of "men only" hours in the club's Grill Room. She ran her charter business until 1988, when she sold the boat after her husband's death.

Mrs. Bancroft is survived by three daughters, Dr. Janet Bodle of Greenbrae, Laura Bancroft of Grass Valley and Ann Bancroft of Sacramento; a son-in-law, Irwin Karp, and four grandsons, Matt Moore, David Bancroft, Tristan Bodle and Ethan Bodle. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the San Francisco Food Bank, 900 Pennsylvania Ave., San Francisco CA 94107.

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