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Mike Q.
Democrat IL 5

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  • Remembering Ralph Frese

    by Representative Mike Quigley

    Posted on 2013-01-23

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    QUIGLEY of illinois in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 23, 2013 Mr. QUIGLEY. Mr. Speaker, last month the city of Chicago lost a legendary canoe-maker and conservationist. Ralph Frese, known as ``Mr. Canoe,'' got his first boat when he was just 14, and spent the next 50 years championing the conservation of Chicago-region rivers.

    Starting in the 1960s, Ralph was active with the Clean Streams Committee, reporting waterway conditions, pollution and blockages to government agencies. In recognition of his efforts, he was inducted into the National Rivers Hall of Fame, and in 2007 a stretch of the Chicago River was renamed ``The Ralph Frese River Trail.'' Ralph is responsible for introducing thousands of people to the pleasures of paddling a canoe across Illinois' waterways and loved nothing more than sharing his knowledge with other would-be conservationists.

    I once had the pleasure of canoeing down the Chicago River with Ralph and learned so much during our time together. More than anything, I left fully inspired by his love for the natural world around us, even in big cities like Chicago.

    We will miss Ralph cracking jokes or sharing his stories on the river trail. But his environmental legacy will live on for generations, and for that we should be forever thankful.


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