Last night, long-time TU leader Fred Rasmussen passed away at his home in Salida at age 95. His ready smile, always offering a hug and a kind word, and his trademark white ponytail made him a readily recognizable figure within and beyond TU for many years. His lifetime of service made him a role model that those of us following in his footsteps can strive for even as we inevitably fall short.
While always modest about his service (“We were a bunch of scared kids just doing what we were told to do”) , Fred was a part of the “Greatest Generation” that helped America and our allies face down fascism during World War II. His hometown newspaper, The Mountain Mail, ran a story about his war experiences that you can read here.
Following the war, he went onto a distinguished career developing science curricula and co-authoring textbooks. He lent those talents to Trout Unlimited and his community, helping to develop the hands-on inquiry-based “Stream Explorers” curriculum that continues to be used for youth education activities with the Collegiate Peaks Chapter in his hometown and with others around Colorado.
Fred’s service to conservation and Trout Unlimited is extensive - from serving with his local chapter, to chairing Colorado Trout Unlimited, to serving on the National Trout Unlimited Board of Trustees and with his fingerprints on activities from his local chapter banquet, to on-the-ground restoration projects in South Park and the Arkansas basin, to leadership on vital issues like the fights against Two Forks and whirling disease. Perhaps his greatest mark, though, was with the many other TU leaders that he helped mentor over the years who were able to carry his example forward in their own efforts. He helped all of us keep sight of the fact that Trout Unlimited’s mission was coldwater conservation - and that if we didn’t rise to that challenge, who would? His commitment and leadership were recognized nationwide, as Fred was honored with lifetime achievement awards from Colorado TU (the Hoagland Award), the Silver Trout Foundation (Silver Trout Award), and National TU (the Mortensen Award).
As a soldier, educator, volunteer, leader, parent and grandparent, Fred left an indelible mark. To me, he will always personify that “Greatest Generation” not simply because of his distinguished war service, but for the legacy he built over the rich lifetime of service that followed. May his example continue to inspire all of us, and may he rest in well-earned peace.
David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado Trout Unlimited
Jon Rasmussen shared the following as Fred was moving into hospice care at his home:
Fred is close to passing. He is comfortable, not in pain and surrounded by loving family. Thank you ( and all of his TU friends) for being such a fulfilling part of his life.
It will be hard to lose my best friend & fishing buddy. But, Fred has helped lay the ground work for this joy to extend long into the future for my sons & I.