A personal tribute to Lefty

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.

Thanks, Wayne

P.S.  I am sure he will have a joke or two for St. Peter at the gates of Heaven!

Lefty Kreh

To my friends,

I was 92 in January and had a carotid artery operation. During testing the hospital determined my heart was only pumping 35% and must limit my physical activities followed by a rest. The industry was extremely helpful and last season was able to attend the shows, clinics, etc.

Several weeks ago, I realized I was developing another problem, which is normal for someone nearly 93. It turns out I have congested heart failure. My pacemaker revealed there was a series of very rapid hear beats, which could cause a stroke. Fortunately a lot of doctor/friends are fly-fisherman and worked with me. In summary I have to give up travel and presentations as in the past.

Everyone produces a certain amount of fluid in the body and excretes the excess. Because of the low heartbeat my body is not getting rid of all the fluids and I gained weight. My best friend Dr. Mark Lamos put me in the hospital and with back procedure they twice removed a liter and a half of fluid from my chest. After five days in the hospital. I lost weight.

A week or so later I starting gaining weight again so it was back in the hospital for the same treatment. They reduced most of the fluid and returned home. I determined I was not going to continue back to the hospital. Mark decided to use medicine to control the excess fluid. It’s been a fine-tuning situation but looks like it’s starting work.

This means the schedule I lived for decades is no longer valid and will spend most my time at home. As we get older we learn to adjust to what we can and cannot do. I have a number of interesting computer home projects on the computer and busier than a Syrian bricklayer. I’m not frustrated and I’m content My problem is I don’t have a lot of stamina and have to work around that. If Marks medical system works I should be busy and around for a year or two.

I would like to be able to send this email to my friends but I don’t really know how to do this. So I’m asking others to help me spread the word through email. Because my lack of energy and stamina I having trouble answering emails (there are more than 400 on the computer) and not talking much on the phone. This is not meant to be unfriendly is learning to adjuster my situation.

In summary I’m busy and content but I want you to know I am so appreciative you’ve have shared your lives with me.

All The Best Friends,

Season End in the Catskills

The 2017 trout season can to end for me on the East Branch of the Upper Delaware River this past weekend.  Weather was exceptionally hot for this time of year, but the company was more than enough to make up for it.  I was joined by Wayne, Ralph Valle, Bill Blomeier and Derek Burgess.  Good company and a nice way to close the season, looking forward to 2018.

In the meantime, I sure hope to see lots of friends at the 2018 Maryland Fly Fishing Show on March 17th.

Check out their new website at:

Come join us!

Fred Grafeld, Vintage Tackle