Boyne City resident Tony Williams is pictured with his wife and one of his daughters at the family’s Freshwater Studio.
By Josh Sampson
Tony Williams is a recognizable face in Boyne City for his ventures at Freshwater Studios; however, he is more than just a proprietor.
Growing up in Boyne City, Williams is a man of many hobbies, ranging from hang-gliding to rock-n-roll.
One of Williams current passions is ice-boating.
“I’ve been intrigued with it my whole life,” Williams said. “I just got into it about three to four years ago.”
Ice-boating consists of a boat that is equipped with skis or runners, and they are traditionally used to run over ice instead of water.
For Williams, watching people sail in from Charlevoix once every few years on iceboats was helpful in building admiration for the activity.
It wasn’t until he bought an iceboat for one of his kids that he took the hobby seriously.
“I bought my son and ice-boat and he wrecked it,” he said. “But, my wife thought we should have one, so we went down to Ohio and bought it. It is a two-person iceboat.”
Williams bought an Arrow, which is only one of the classes iceboats fall under.
Another class of iceboats, the DN, is the most prominent in the world.
In the 1930s, the Detroit News held a contest for people to design an inexpensive iceboat, Williams said.
The winning boat model was a preliminary DN, which was not fully developed at the time, but the aerodynamics of the original fuselage have remained a staple to the class.
Williams loves to ice-boat and he also thinks it is a great hobby for family outings.
“We use it as a way to enhance the winter,” he said. “Last Sunday we made a fire out on the beach and we had some friends out. We had a lot of fun.”
Williams’ daughter has taken a special liking to ice-boating as well.
“Our daughter Ruby has been sailing iceboats for three or four years,” Williams said. “She’s a great sailor. She started sailing in the 4H program downtown.”
He added, “She’s the one who gets up in the morning to see if we can iceboat.”
Ice-boating is not just for the adventurous, according to Williams, but it is for anyone who likes entertainment during the off months.
“I think the major thing people don’t look for are fun things to do in the winter,” he said. “You can do some activities here that you can’t do anywhere else.”
Williams’ adventurous spirit transcends that of ice-boating, though, because he also loves music.
While living in Florida, Williams was involved in a rock-n-roll band that played gigs all over the state.
“We played a lot,” he said. “We were our own agents and we did our own booking. It was a 24-7 job.”
Williams said rock-n-roll is much more than glitz and glamor.
“We were living in Holiday Inns, and we were traveling from town to town for gigs. It was a hard life,” he said.
Despite the hardships, Williams had the chance to meet some famous musicians.
“We got to jam with the Almond Brothers,” Williams said. “Duane and Gregg weren’t there but Dickey Betts was.”
Williams went on to say he experienced some of the craziness of the ’70s, during what he called, “An interesting gig.”
“We got to a gig one day and they were changing the door on the men’s bathroom,” he said. “The night before, a woman had emptied a gun on it because her husband was in there.”
Another activity Williams enjoys is hang-gliding, which he took part in while living in Denver, Colorado.
His interest in such a high-risk hobby was a basic yearning.
“I just wanted to fly and it was an affordable way to do it,” he said.
When he moved back to Boyne City, he even flew his hang-glider at Boyne and Avalanche Mountain.
“The ski resorts won’t let you do it anymore,” he said, “But, when they did, I’d carry my kite to the top of the hill, and then use skis for take-off.”
While Williams is apparently a man of many hobbies, he professes to have an interest in a more subdued pursuit these days.
“I’m a family man, and I love to be in Northern Michigan,” he said.
Williams lives in Boyne with his wife Robin Lee Berry. He has two sons, Homer and Woody, and two daughters, Anna and Ruby.
He has a sister, Carrie, who lives in the area, and a sister, Alyssa, who summers in Boyne City as well.