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December 02, 2016
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Richard ‘Dick’ Rhodes: a river patrolman passes on his paddle

Dick Rhodes, waving, stands among his family of fellow river patrollers during a Delaware River Sojourn. To his right is Dejay Branch, current vice commodore of the National Canoe Safety Patrol and a dear friend.

Troy Bystrom and Dejay Branch, two key NCSP volunteers, credit Dick with bringing them into the organization. “If it wasn't for him, we would have never learned the importance of protecting the Upper Delaware River and how special it really is,” said Bystrom. “Dick loved the river with all of his heart and spent every moment he could on the river or educating others on the importance of protecting this special place.”

Nick Spinelli, executive director at Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed District described his relationship with Dick, who he met as a college intern with the National Park Service (NPS). “I learned a great deal about paddling and respect for the river from Dick,” wrote Spinelli in a reminiscence. “I marveled at his dedication in spending more days on the river than most of the interns or paid staff. It was easy to tell that Dick’s passion for the river was as strong as his passion for the people around him.”

Spinelli helped in planning the 2010 River of the Year Celebration for the Lackawaxen and scouted the river with Dick in advance to ensure a smooth day for the sojourners. “I consider that day to be one of the finer days of my life. I’m truly grateful to have had the good fortune of knowing and learning from such a humble, well respected and noble man. He made our corner of the world a better place and lived as an example of selfless service. Every time I paddle the Upper Delaware I’ll be in the spiritual company of a man who called so many ‘friend.’”

Among those dear friends is NPS education specialist, Ingrid Peterec, who interacted almost daily with Dick due to the partnership between the NPS and the NCSP volunteers who make their way to the Delaware River every weekend to help those who find themselves in precarious or life-threatening situations.

“Dick played such an important part in my life not only professionally but personally,” said Peterec, whose daughter, Elizabeth joined NCSP last summer with Dick's encouragement and who will inherit his kayak. “She had the best summer ever and can't wait to get out on the river. Dick and Mary K. took my family and I into their lives and made us feel part of their family. He was my sounding board and my friend.”