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RIP Photos & Memorial

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Scanning old 35mm print photos I came across a (sadly too large) number of late friends. Norbert Thompson (aka Weldzilla or NT), Jim Saulters (JSaults), Charlie and Ted and a bunch of early canoe club elders.

And a more recently departed childhood friend, co-worker, musician, artist and Grumman-era bowman, Rob Brown.

EK_0013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

RIP my friend, you were one of the talented best and kindest. Your memorial service proved so; it was not only SRO, I had to park four blocks away.

I’ll try to find character-revealing photos of NT and Jsaults, who were well known in on-line paddling circles, and were both memorable, mad-skills characters themselves.
 
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RIP Jsaults (Jim Saulters)

IMG_1997 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

(Photo courtesy of Conk)

Jim was a man of a storied past; he had been/was a caver, climber, hiker, raft guide, bicyclist, sea kayaker, canoeist and lover of fine bourbons. He had a fine Burl Ives-ish singing voice, a vast repertoire of (usually bad) jokes and a love of self-deprecating stories.

The last tale I heard Jim tell on himself involved waiting all alone at a trailhead along the Cumberland Gap Bike Trail for friends to arrive. Jim was a quite large, round faced guy, and rode a high-end trike. He was sitting on his trike, helmet strapped on, awaiting his friends when a group of young lovelies approached under the mistaken impression that he was developmentally disabled.

“Are you all by yourself?”. “Oh goodness, aren’t you brave”. Hugs and kisses. Jim suddenly lost the power of speech and played that for all it was worth.

I had never heard Jim-as-the-hero stories until his memorial service, when one of his hiking buddies told how Jim saved their lives atop Mt. Washington in a blizzard.

Jim’s Memorial Service was held trial side on the riverbank at Ohioplye, where he had spent considerable time. Each of the attendees related a (usually humorous) story or two of their travels with Jim, followed by a retreat to a local bar, with a tab run on Jim’s dime. At the conclusion we were each presented with a small Mason jar of Jim’s ashes, and a request that the ashes be scattered at some location they had enjoyed in his company.

I was privileged to be present at a couple of those far-flung “wakes”, and you can bet there was a bottle of Blantons at each.
 
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Memories of departed friends & loved ones burn in my mind like campfires in the dark.
Nice tribute to your friends.
 
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RIP Norbert Thompson (aka Weldzilla or NT on-line, NT or Norb in person)

IMG_3992 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Conk

NT had talents across a broad range. As a paddler, photographer, painter, talented carver and woodworker. He could fabricate, invent and, of course, weld.

He was perhaps the most generous friend anyone had. Everyone NT knew and, more importantly, liked, received gifts damn near every time you saw him. Hand crafted paddles, custom made thwarts and yokes, sculptures and do-dads and etc.

In our home we have an NT crafted glass & walnut trophy, a classic bent-wood rocker, carved walnut Duckhead sculptures, decorative paddles, various mementos and more, something in every room.

To NT’s credit (and occasional next morning regret) on any group trip, come evening, the contingent invariably assembled uninvited on Norb’s site. He had a peculiar gravitational pull.

NT was also a gruff, no-nonsense ex-biker type. If NT decided that liked you, he had your back come thick or thin. I had never met NT, never even had a paddling board exchange with him or even recognized the name, when some ill-informed assclown began nonsensically taking me to task on-line.

NT did not tolerate fools gladly, jumped in and quashed that, and invited me to join him on a different paddling forum.
 
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Here's my buddy Dave...we had been hiking, paddling, skiing, bicycling, building boats, working together since 1979.

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He was very close with everyone in my family, and like a brother to me, always around during the holidays too.
I was lucky to spend a weekend camping with him last September, our last camping trip together and his last trip ever.
He passed last November, coworkers called me to see if I had heard from him when he didn't show for work on a Monday.
I volunteered to go check on him. As it turned out, much better that it was me that found him rather than his kids or sisters, thankfully they won't have that traumatic last memory of him.

Here he is on Cedar River Flow last year.

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As I am sure we can all attest, you meet some of the best people when paddling.

I met Dave on the island in Rock Pond upstream of Little Tupper. He quickly offered to share the island, and I took him up on it. I found out in a hurry that this guy was accomplished, and living a full life. He was roughly my age.

Dave talked a lot because he had so much to say. He wasn’t just talking to talk. He was so smart and enthusiastic about so many things. We shared many interests.

He was one of those few people who you meet, and about whom you just can’t help but marvel: How the heck can he possibly find the energy and drive to do all that and be all that?

I only tripped with Dave twice, but he made a big impression on me. I still think of him from time to time. If I’d had the chance to get to know him better, I would have been all the better for it.

Life is not fair. Dave died in 2009. In memoriam, one person said: “I hope he goes to a big river, with a good current.” Amen.
 
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I was lucky to spend a weekend camping with him last September, our last camping trip together and his last trip ever.

Stripperguy, the photo of Jim Saulters above was taken on his last paddle-in trip, a group Kinzu gathering to memorialize NT.

Memories of departed friends & loved ones burn like campfires in the dark.

They do, and I hate to see that flame flicker and extinguish. I heard this morning that a local paddler, Tom McCloud, guidebook author and long-serving paddle club Officer had passed away. I didn’t know him well aside from club stuff, but he was a stalwart of the paddling community and a wise elder. His light should not pass unnoticed.

When my dad died I memorialized him to two delayed ways. I printed out a list of all the things he had been and done in life, vocationally and avocationally; Navy sailor, ambulance driver, firefighter, farmer, Cat-skinner, carpenter, mechanic and a dozen other jobs (he typically worked two jobs while I was growing up). Stone mason and Masonic Past Master (Jeptha Lodge).

Hunter, fisherman, paddler, artist, chef & baker extraordinaire. Home brewer before it was legal. Dentist; he pulled rotten teeth for his rural ain’t-goin’-to-no-damn-dentist cronies, and eventually bought the dental pliers to make that task easier. Runaway; in WWII Ed join the US Navy at 16 with fake papers, but only after joining the Canadian Army at 14 with fake papers. He made it through basic in Canada before they found him out.

I got at least a couple entries for every letter of the alphabet. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Printed those 70-some descriptors with his name, birth and death dates on faux-parchment paper, stuffed inside a half dozen sealed bottles and thrown out to sea in various locales dear to Ed. I should have put some contact information on that page, I wonder what folks who found them thought when they extracted that message in a bottle.

The second memorial involved buying a case of this favorite rotgut sour mash, Cabin Still. I glued that memorial page around each bottle and distributed them to his friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters-in-law.

ED’s SIL’s were all teetotalers, but deigned to open the bottle and have a sip with me when I later visited. Years later I got to see Aunt Marian take her first ever sip of bourbon, from a never uncorked dusty bottle fetched from the back of a cabinet.

Probably Marian’s last ever sip of bourbon; she did not appear to enjoy sour mash. I never developed a taste for sour mash either, despite having my first shot at age 10.

Ed and I had gone to the family camp one cold mid-winter day, maybe 15F when we unlocked the frigid cabin. Ed walked inside, immediately grabbed a bottle of Cabin Still, poured two shots and said “Here, drink this”.

Following his lead I glumped it down and he said “Ok, now say something”, expecting some breathless sputter or cracking voice.

“Whadda ya want me to say Dad?” I replied, voice unimpaired.

I haven’t been right since, but still don’t like sour mash all that much.
 
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I knew a few of these guys. I still use the map set for Assateague that Jim prepared and mailed to me, unrequested and much appreciated. NT inspired me to build paddles. For a number of years I attended “Tom McClouds’ Easter trip” which he would lead down upper Potomac, whitewater tributaries.

if you’ve never read the TR that McCloud wrote describing the travails on Quebec’s Petite Mecante, it’s a worthy read: https://www.myccr.com/PDF files/Mecatina - Tom McCloud.pdf

My life was enriched by having known these guys. I only hope somebody can say the same when it’s my time to go.
 
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Chip, I e-mailed this to our friend Willie, who informed me of Tom’s McCloud’s passing.

I looked back several months on the Monocacy board and there was no mention of Tom’s passing. That was surprising, maybe startling, considering how long he was a club officer. WTF?

I remember when Charlie, another active, long time club paddler, passed away 10 or 15 years ago, going to his weekend memorial service and seeing only a scant few (like 2 or 3) Monocacy members in attendance. Richard Hopley was there, maybe one or two others at most.

The Squatter sisters, who had met Charlie on a few Duckhead trips, came with me and after the service we did a memorial paddle just up the road at Mariner’s Point.

It just seemed kinda lame to me. Of course I can’t even remember Charlie’s last name today. How quickly folks forget.

I only paddled with Tom a few times, his whitewater passions were beyond my comfort level. Although I think I have all the guidebooks he authored or co-authored. Guess it is too late to get them autographed now.

Tom McCloud should at least be remembered locally for what he gave back to the paddling community, leading trips and serving as a club officer for many years, especially in later years when no youngun’s were willing to step up and take a club position. For the last 10 years of the club it was the same handful of club elders filling Membership, Safety, Instruction, Newsletter, Cruise Schedule and Message Board chairs.

(BTW, god bless Jay Herbig for continuing to maintain the Monocacy Canoe Club message board, even when the club itself had disbanded after a 55 year run)

What the hell was Charlie’s last name? I probably have a photograph of him. I’m sure the Squatters do; Charlie hung around them like a lost puppy on Duckhead trips.
 
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NT was one gruff guy when I met him at Raystown. I was a little scared of him but somehow he took a "shine" to me and me to him. One of the first jaunts on the Juniata River was done by myself, NT and Topher, maybe one other but while Topher took to poling on that day NT just smiled at me and said, "You guys are nuts!" Later he carved me a beautiful Duckhead walking stick which I had until a house fire destroyed it. I kept in touch with NT until the end and he shared paddle designs which I still have. I miss NT and miss the Raystown gathering as there were so many other paddlers/folks who made a huge difference by a chance meeting!

dougd
 
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In remembrance of Tom McCloud, photos by Bob Kimmel.




With my many absences from home to paddle whitewater, domestic tranquility concerns kept me from joining Tom on his annual Easter weekend gathering of paddlers on the Upper Potomac. While I missed paddling the Smoke Hole with Tom, much later in life I had the opportunity to paddle with him, and others, on 3 weeks of whitewater in the western US.




Tom was an excellent WW open canoe guy, always one of the best big water paddlers in our groups. Here he is is on the Blackfoot (Montana).

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I just lost my aunt who spent 40 years in Alaska. A few weeks ago my uncle went at 93. He traveled all over the world in the Merchant Marine and then got a Master of Fine Arts degree and became a metal sculptor. We used to work cattle every fall at my Dad's place in Arizona. He left home at 15 and lived at the race track sleeping in stalls with famous race horses. There is no way to replace these people.

In addition to the two relatives I have lost 5 friends this year. I have either ridden horses or paddled with most of them.
 
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Hoback River, Montana...............Photo by Bob Kimmel



Thomas George McCloud




Frederick Maryland -

On Saturday October 3, 2020 , Thomas G. McCloud passed away suddenly at the age of 76.

Tom will be fondly remembered by family and varied groups of friends, with whom he shared many of his passions. They include his mountain neighbors, colleagues at NIH/Natural Products Lab, fellow enthusiasts of the wilderness, fishing, canoe exploration and antique wooden canoe restoration, and those of us who listened to his stories.

He was born August 23, 1944, in Akron, Ohio to Doris and George McCloud, grew up in Massillon, Ohio and attended Massillon Washington High School and was awarded Distinguished Citizen Award in 2008. He graduated from Ohio State University, North Carolina State University and Purdue University. He served his country at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a bio Science Assistant.

Tom had a long, successful career as scientist and researcher the U.S. National Cancer Institute at the NIH/Natural Products Lab where he played a key role in an ambitious effort to collect, process and extract samples from naturally occurring materials around the world that have contributed to the discovery of many lifesaving drugs and will be used for in the research of therapeutics for years to come. In 2000 he was awarded the Special Science Achievement in recognition of the development of state of the art systems for the plating and rapid dereplication of extraordinary numbers of natural products extract.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, George and Doris McCloud, and brother Richard. Tom is survived by his sister in law, Hanna McCloud and Aunt, Marilyn Thomas of Orrville and several cousins, in Ohio. Maryland, and Arkansas.

Tom’s ashes will be interned in the family plot at Crown Hill Cemetery in Orrville, Ohio, on Saturday November 21, 2020 at 11am.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made in Tom’s name to the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association.
 
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RIP Brian Sill - An Adventurous Life Slideshow

My backpacking, canoeing and cross country travel companion Brian passed away suddenly. He took the dog for a walk in the woods near his house; the dog came home, Brian didn’t.

A number of folks here on Canoe Tripping had the pleasure of paddling or camping with Brian, and I will scan in some photos of him as a memorial album. Maybe a lot of photos, Brian was a photogenic guy, and I had been on adventures with him starting in the 10[SUP]th[/SUP] grade.

Please excuse the quality of the scanned prints, these are old 35mm prints from 47 years of photo albums, and our print scanner is a piece of junk. Click the link below, then click the TV looking icon at the top right for a full-screen slide show.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/153467...57717988216427


CT’er Chip Walsh, who paddled and camped Brian a time or three, said something old-friends-wise struck me as so true that I printed it out for my shop quote wall:

“I don’t know many people who I have been friends with for 50 years

You can’t make another friend like that”
 
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Icedragonmx, a fella from Manitoba who used to post here regularly died last year, I believe. Don't know the details, but he was fairly young.
 
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Been gone several years but just wanted to remember a friend. Ned Sharples’ Canoesport shop in Ann Arbor MI was the best shop I have ever been in. He was a seminal force in promoting solo canoes as they began their heyday. Paddler, professor, writer and more. Miss him still.
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As I was reading through these I thought how fortunate I am to not have lost any tripping partners, then I remembered Big John. I went to high school with John and we did two trips in the seventies. John was one of the smartest kids in our class and a superb athlete, he wrestled heavy in HS and went to Harvard on a football scholarship. I'll never forget Johns amazing feat of strength when he got the canoe that I was paddling unstuck from the sweeper that I got it stuck in. Three of us couldn't get it but John did it by himself.
 
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I'll never forget Johns amazing feat of strength when he got the canoe that I was paddling unstuck from the sweeper that I got it stuck in. Three of us couldn't get it but John did it by himself.

Wandering afield of the dead friend memorial topic I cannot resist retelling a favorite tale. I have a (younger, still kicking) tripping companion, given to similarly feats-of-strength.

My fondest of his many feats; we were coming back from a group day paddle away from base camp and, as we rounded the last point before camp said friend, let’s just call him Eeek!, spotted a pontoon houseboat parked on the beach where I was set up.

Eeek! is nicest, friendliest, most easy-going guy you might ever met who is built like a cast iron fireplug. A lovable character, but with an obvious “Don’t screw with me” undertone when his buttons are pressed.

Eeek! took off, hauling ass across the lake with a carbon bent. By the time we caught up Eeek! was already deep in “discussion” with two of the houseboat guys.

The “discussion” went swiftly, but not well. Their party had coolers, lunch, stove and an elaborate samovar set up, scattered around my obviously tented site. I was kind of intrigued at the situation, but arrived too late.

Eeek! “You are on my friend’s site, you need to leave

The response was not promising “Vee stay vun, mabee two hour”.

That was especially disheartening because it was delivered in a thick Russian accent. Polish Eeek! and Russians are not a good mix. Eeek!, don’t take no shit, and we are damn near camped in his back yard, where he has lived all his life. I could only hope that Russian health insurance was good in the US.

Eeek! squared up, seemed to Hulk-bulk up, and said four words, in a tone I had never heard before. “YOU GOT 60 SECONDS”.

I was counting down the seconds, waiting for the bomb to explode, while the Russian were hurriedly throwing their shit aboard. At 58 second the Russians proved too weak to push their houseboat off the beach. At 61 second Eeek! elected to help them.

He pushed them aside, grabbed the bow of their houseboat, and essentially threw it out into the lake. They were chest deep before managing to clamber back aboard.

Occasionally, at random, when Eeek! least expects it on trips, I still recreate their response, shouted while they were rolling up their pant legs as their boat floated away.

Nyet, nyet”. . . . . “Too var, to var!

That esoteric humor between friends is the very crux of old friendships. I love solo tripping, but some companion memories are irreplaceable.
 
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