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Jay Leitch

River Keepers lost a valued past board member, member, donor, volunteer, mentor and friend in Jay Leitch. He dedicated over 1/3 of his life to River Keepers sharing his time and talents which helped make the organization what it is today.

The list of things he helped with is long, but we wanted to highlight a few:

* He participated in numerous activities from youth and adult fishing clinics to driving a boat for oak tree research to helping people paddle on the Red River.

* He created massive undertakings such as the Millennium Tour which led to the Red River being designated as a Minnesota State Water Trail.

* He boosted public awareness by taking many VIPs fishing as a way to show them the potential of the Red River as a recreational resource.

* He worked as a consultant to River Keepers to develop the Master Water Trail Plans for both the Red and Otter Tail Rivers.

* He helped ensure our financial well being through strategic and varied means.

* He was on the hiring committees for both the 2nd (Bob Backman) and 3rd (Christine Holland) executive directors of River Keepers.

* He helped develop the S.S. Ruby; hauling it, repairing it, and even became a licensed U.S. Merchant Marine Officer – Master (Captain) to help staff it.

* He was an expert at fishing the Red and loved to tell others about it. So much so that he wrote a book, along with our friend, Tom DeSutter, and donated the proceeds to River Keepers.

* He accepted (reluctantly) our 2006 Volunteer of the Year Award and in 2015 he and Tom DeSutter accepted the Eric Sevareid Award for authoring the catfishing book.

Jay impacted River Keepers and staff in numerous ways for which we are grateful. He will be greatly missed.