I was very saddened when I got the news of Lefty’s passing. Saddened at the loss of a special friend, but gladdened to know he was no longer suffering and that he was in a better place.
Lefty was my mentor and friend for fifty plus years. We shared fishing trips, luncheons and just visiting and talking. He always had a new joke or funny story to tell.
We all know of Lefty’s achievements in the world of fly-fishing. He was loved and respected by fly anglers the world over and certainly is recognized as the sport’s greatest representative. He always gave credit to his mentor, Joe Brooks, for it was Joe who got him into fly-fishing and helping him get started on his fly-fishing career.
However, how many knew Lefty the man? I am sure there are many of his friends who could tell you stories about the personal side of Lefty. I would like to tell you one of mine.
I worked for a large company for over thirty years and in May 1986; I suffered some health issues due to the stress of my job. This was in May of that year. I remained off work until September of 1986 when I was able to return to work by my doctor, but could not go back to the same job. After discussing this with my supervisor, he said he was aware of the doctor’s order but he had no other job for me. In November, I got a letter telling me I was retired effective December 1 and would only be given a ½ pension.
Well, I was 49 years old, with a wife and three children with the normal amount of bills as everyone else at this age. Fortunately, I was able to get a contractual position at Towson State University. This position allowed me to pay bills on time and maintain my family’s modest lifestyle.
After a few years at Towson, a Maryland State position opened at Gunpowder Falls State Park, which provided full benefits and a raise. I applied for the job, went on an interview and was hired. Approximately three months later, the Park manager called me into his office and told me he had a letter that was sent to him and thought I would I would like to have it. It was from Lefty saying that he knew me and highly recommended me for the job, that I was a “people person” and that he felt I would be an asset to the Park.
Lefty never mentioned anything about this to me. I am sure he knew that this was the kind of place they I would love to work and he was right! I could never thank him enough.
When we next met, I told Lefty “Thanks” and got that great big grin of his. I know that he knew what I meant…
I am sure there are many others that can tell similar stories. Lefty did these things because that was the type of person he was. He cared about people and he helped whenever he could, without saying anything to them. His heart was as big as his grin!
The fly-fishing world will certainly miss that great big grin and his infectious laughter as well as the knowledge he imparted on all of us through his books, articles and demonstrations. He will forever remain the world’s greatest fly angler! There was only one Lefty-there will never be another.
Thanks Lefty for your friendship over these many years.
P.S. I am sure he will have a joke or two for St. Peter at the gates of Heaven!