March 10, 2011 —
Several friends contacted me in February to say that Richard Talleur had passed away. Next, the newsletter of the Pike-Wayne chapter of Trout Unlimited arrived with the news that Fredrick Eck had died. Mr. Eck had operated fly fishing shops in the Honesdale, Scranton and Starlight areas. His then wife, Patti, had been an excellent ambassador of good will at his stores. She had an uncanny knack of remembering the names of even those who were only sometimes customers. Rick also gave freely of his time to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum.
I came to know Dick Talleur when AT&T transferred him from Albany, NY, to its Westchester County offices. Once Dick realized that there was no chapter of Trout Unlimited in the area, he set out to organize one. He arranged to have Wes Drake and Art Flick attend a dinner meeting along with 11 men and one woman to explore the possibility of forming a chapter. Barb and I, along with 10 other fellows, agreed to attempt to do this. Dick was to be the president of the new chapter and Barb was to serve as secretary. Since the chapter had no money, a treasurer was not named. This new chapter being located mainly in Westchester and Putnam counties, I suggested it be named the Croton Watershed chapter. The name stuck.
Dick would invariably eat dinner at our house prior to the monthly meetings. It was the custom to begin each meeting with a half-hour fly-tying session. In those days, Dick was a very ordinary fly tier. I suspect it was Poul Jorgenson who taught him how to polish his tying skills. Dick made the suggestion that the chapter could solve its financial problems by having our tiny group run a fly fishing school the following spring. It was our hope to enroll 10 or 15 students for the course. We were stunned when 98 students signed up for the school. At $25 each, our chapter was suddenly no longer poor. After the first year, Dick unfortunately suffered a nervous breakdown and was unable to continue to lead the chapter.
When he recovered, he began writing books on fly fishing and fly tying. He became a fixture at American Angler magazine, where for years he wrote interesting articles on fly tying. He will be certainly be remembered for his timeless books on fly fishing and fly tying techniques. To my mind, his most important legacy is the founding of the very successful Croton Watershed chapter of Trout Unlimited.