Fair winds and following seas. You made us proud.
Ten years go by fast. For so many reasons I wish Jim was alive today. But I do know this, he would be proud of how his wisdom has lived on and of those who fight the good fight, they are true keepers of his faith.
The following is a tribute I wrote for the News Virginian in 2009. I don’t think I can do any better today and still have tears in my eyes. May his wisdom live on in all of us.
There are some columns one would prefer never to write. This is one of them.
Please indulge me as I reflect on two people who are no longer with us. Not to mourn their loss so much as to celebrate their lives.
On Tuesday morning one of my very closest friends lost his battle with cancer.
He was like a brother to me. The best man in my wedding, a hunting and fishing partner of many years and the voice on the other end of the phone keeping me strong when trouble came. And oh, the whiskey we drank.
Many of you have never heard of James D. Range. But all of you have been touched by his work. He was a conservation hero. Embodying a conservation ethic on the scale of Roosevelt, Leopold, Muir and Pinchot.
One of my most cherished memories, from many years ago, is standing with him in my dining room one night. We got choked up looking out at the fields and woods where I lived.
He told me that not a lot of folks were willing to protect the things he, I and many of you love so much like fish, wildlife and the wild things of this earth. He said, “Tommy we have to protect the wild things. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
Tears streamed down our faces. Big men do cry.
Range was a modern architect of natural resource conservation. A skilled bipartisan policy and political genius with an extraordinary network of friends and contacts.
Range had wonderful oratorical gifts, a way of always speaking from his heart, sometimes in language not fit for a family newspaper. You may not have liked what he said but you surely knew what he thought.
He was the personification of “if they don’t see the light, we can surely make them feel the heat.”
Range’s fingerprints are all over the nation’s conservation laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. His championing of conservation tax incentives earned him a profile in Time magazine.
He ably chaired the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Board of Directors pouring his enormous energy into its resurrection.
He served with distinction and candor on the Board’s of Trout Unlimited, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, Ducks Unlimited, the American Bird Conservancy, the Pacific Forest Trust, the Valles Caldera Trust and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.
Range was an original board member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, helping to chart the outstanding course it is on today. He also held presidential appointments to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council.
In 2003, Range received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Great Blue Heron Award, the highest honor given to an individual at the national level by the Department.
He was also awarded the 2003 Outdoor Life Magazine Conservationist of the Year Award and the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sportfishing Association.
Range’s greatest love was the outdoors. He fished and hunted all over the world. I suspect he was happiest however, at his place on the Missouri River near Craig, Mont.
Flyway Ranch was his sanctuary. A sanctuary, which, in typical Range fashion, he shared with friends and colleagues so they too could enjoy a respite from challenges both personal and professional.
Beside his multitude of friends and admirers, Range is survived by his father, Dr. James Range of Johnson City, Tenn., brothers John Neel, Harry and Peter, twin daughters Allison and Kimberly, and loyal bird dogs Plague, Tench and Sky.
Range may be gone but we will be telling stories about him for the rest of our lives.
The Valley lost another friend recently as well. She was one of Range’s favorite people and the mother of his girlfriend Anni.
Jean Marion Gregory Ince, died on Jan. 12 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. She and her husband Eugene St. Clair Ince, Jr. and her beloved golden retriever “Meg” were residents of Madison.
Like Range, Jean Ince was a giver. She and Meg, a certified therapy dog, worked with patients at the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville and at the Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville.
Anni told me her mom, like Range, loved the outdoors and animals, particularly horses and dogs. She said that love was passed on to her children and grandchildren as well.
Jean and Bud enjoyed a special relationship. They wrote about it in the December 1978 issue of GOURMET Magazine. An Evening at the Waldorf chronicles the evening of their engagement.
It is a wonderfully engaging story of a young couple, a special hotel, and a time when doing for others was a common practice.
I hope you will take a moment to read it. It is a gift that will make any day a better one.
You can find a copy of An Evening at the Waldorf at http://www.usna.org/family/waldorf.html.
Jim Range and Jean Ince have made our world a better place. Their friends and families miss them but their memories will warm our hearts forever.
Imagine if peace were as ubiquitous as flip flops?
Flip flops are my footwear of choice, maybe yours as well. Simple, easy to put on, comfortable and easy to care for. What’s not to like? Perhaps you even wear them to make some form of sartorial statement.
How about wearing flip flops to make a political statement, and maybe even help change the focus in war zones from conflict to prosperity?
“we were going to take military capacity that was established to manufacture tools for war, and we were going to manufacture commercial products for peace. And then we were going to ship them all over the world and help a whole bunch of people along the way. -Matt “Griff” Griffin
Let me introduce you to Combat Flip Flops and the Unarmed Forces.
“Each day brings tragic events. Decades of radicalism fueled by ignorance create indifference and helplessness. The cycle of violence and injustice continues. As humans, we should have figured this out by now. Can it change?
We felt the same way too. Asked the same question. As business leaders, we listened to the rhetoric, and saw the hypocrisy. As special operations veterans, we ‘defended our freedom,’ and discovered the wars went against everything we hoped for. Through understanding and compassion, we found a new path forward–a mechanism of change.”
It started when I read about them somewhere online. As a veteran, reading about a veteran-owned business caught my attention. Vet’s make flops, I’m in. So, I order a pair of Floperators. They are adorned with this credo: “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
As a veteran, I have been asked: “what do you think about war?” I respond with “what do you think about cancer?” Now here is a company making flip flops, shemaghs and other cool stuff that cops to the attitude that wars are stupid.
“As a species, we have been repeating this insane habit of putting little metal projectiles into one another as a method of foreign policy because our leaders can’t figure out how to do their job. Then they sell it to us as an honorable, massive achievement after we spend trillions of dollars putting ourselves in the same position to do it all over again. Wasting human potential and natural resources through the entire process. When you say it out loud, the absurdity of war should be apparent.”
These cats articulated my worldview and even better were putting products out that walked the talk. They earned my money, and I was proud to join the Unarmed Forces.”
This winter they published Steps Ascending: Rise of the Unarmed Forces. Griffin and Lee, the authors, take you behind the scenes to tell the tale of how they used their special operations training to launch Combat Flip Flops. Even better, they help answer this question they pose in the foreword:
“What if funding for schools in the most deserving and necessary parts of the world could come directly from or be supplemented by for-profit business? What if part of that business model simultaneously activated that same underutilized workforce?”
I promise you that answer is there, and it is worth the read to discover it.
So when you see me wearing floperators or a CFF shemaugh, now you know why.
Patagonia says “let’s be first.” This time to save the planet.
This past week Patagonia came out with a new mission statement:
“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”
“We’re losing the planet because of climate change, that’s the elephant in the room. Society is basically working on symptoms. Save the polar bear? If you want to save the polar bear, you got to save the planet,” Chouinard says. “Forget about the polar bear, they’re toast anyway. So I decided to make a very simple statement, because in reality, if we want to save the planet, every single company in the world has to do the same thing. And I thought, well, let’s be the first.”
Patagonia will focus on three key areas: agriculture, politics, and protected lands.
They can count me in.
Read about it here > Patagonia’s new company mission is to save the planet
Guiding in the fall and winter is a challenge for me when it comes to comfort.
Here in Virginia, with its variable weather, planning a day on our spring creeks takes a little ingenuity. 35 degrees at 7 a.m. can swing to 60 degrees by 2 or 3 p.m. that same day. And add a little moisture to the equation and the gear bag starts to fill up.
I’ve got my suite of work-arounds, but it usually means I wind up taking more than I need for the day.
Here are some of the features that make it a standout:
- It stretches. That means it moves when I do. When I reach out with the net, having my jacket go where I go is very helpful.
- I can push the sleeves up. There are two times when this is especially helpful; when I reach into said net in the water and when the temp outside warms up a bit but I’m not ready to give up my coat.
- DWR fabric. That is Patagonia’s water repellent fabric finish. Sure, I look at the WX before every trip, and if it is going to be a deluge (read full rain gear) for the trip we will likely pass or dress accordingly. But ’round these parts showers, either rain or snow, pop up with little warning and that extra protection comes in handy.
- Abrasion resistance. Sometimes, you just have to push through the “pucker brush” to get where you need to be. And my fleece and Nano Puffs show it… A little “up-armoring” is welcome.
- Breathability, wicking and warmth. If you are active, and guides are, then you can work up a sweat. Wicking the moisture away and having breathable fabrics can really increase the comfort level at this time of year. Conversely, when you are standing around reading the tea leaves in a fly box or waiting for a fish to stick its nose up, having some insulation is plus, a big plus.
- A hood. Sure, it is called a hoody for a reason, and the hood comes in handy to regulate comfort. While my Kromer works fine, a little extra insulation for the neck and noggin sure is nice.
- Pockets. Four big ones. Two at chest level, big enough for fly boxes and two more at the waist for fly boxes or what have you. And they all zip.
The one thing I really like: Having my hemostats handy. The tool I use most often when I am guiding is my hemostat. While you can’t see it in the image I grabbed from Patagonia, there is a tab below the left hand chest pocket to attach a zinger or, in my case, keeping my hemostat securely at hand. Priceless.
One thing I would add: a zippered inside pocket.
Because the difference is so stark between George H.W. Bush and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue the loss is felt more profoundly.
This is wonderful tribute to George H. W. Bush by Bill Clinton.