Sad news - Tolley and VanDemark [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Sad news - Tolley and VanDemark

02-28-2003, 07:56 PM
The northwest angling community lost two icons recently:


Martin Tolley of Vancouver, BC passed away on Feb 19th at the age of 71. Martin was the founding president of the Totem Flyfishers. He was one of the northwest's first steelhead flyfishing bums. Through the 60's and 70's he worked only enough to support his numerous steelhead flyfishing exploits throughout BC, Wash, Ore, and probably elsewhere. He was a fixture on the Squamish, the Stilly, the Bulkley-Morice, Dean, the cutthroat beaches, and was among the first flyfishers to explore numerous remote streams on northern Vancouver Island.

I didn't know Martin well but respected him greatly, and enjoyed his steelhead and cutthroat fishing articles in Northwest Sportsman and Western Fish and Game magazines.

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Dick VanDemark of Bellingham passed away on Feb 24th at the age of 69 following heart surgery.

Dick was a founding member of the Fourth Corner Flyfishers. He was the author of "Steelhead FlyFishing in Low Water." Dick loved to flyfish and, in retirement, to paint beautiful places. His artwork has been exhibited in local galleries. He was an early environmentalist and cared deeply for the earth and all it's creatures.

Dick is survived by wife Diane, daughter Jennifer and grand-daughter Laurel.

I was very fortunate to have known and fished with Dick for about 35 years. I first met him at Peterhope Lake when I was perhaps 14 years of age. He took me under his wing and became my flyfishing mentor. I have yet to meet a more accomplished and thoughtful all-around angler. Dick was a good friend that I'll miss deeply, particularly when I return to the many waters we shared.

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May we hope that Martin and Dick are now in a place where the streams are untrammeled and the steelhead are even brighter.

- Poul

p.s. if anyone from the 4th corner ff'ers reads this, please e-mail me...

03-01-2003, 12:03 AM
I'll never forget the first time I meet Martin, or the last, and probably not most of the times in between!

Martin was a major piece of work,always decked out in his "Tweeds" with white shirt and a tie, and waders with so many patches that you had to wonder what was waders and what was patches. Martin was for us Yanks who had never been exposed to British Upper tututmanship (is that a new word) the only show in town. He had the charming accent and would invite "hisself" to any and all dinners, lunches, rides to town, etc that came down the pike. All this was somehow gracious, how could that be? To call Martin a "Steelhead Bum" is probably going to be lost on most of those who read these post regarding his passing. Martin was and will always remain "Thee Steelhead Bum" too know him is too love him. May he rest in peace.
The first encounter with Martin was on the Bulkley, my Bride and I were camping at a very lonley little railroad siding with only a handful of other fishers when a small compact oriental
station wagon came backfireing and belching its way into camp.
One of my Canadian fishing companions exclaimed "that must be Martin, you'd better set another place for supper Jean.
The little station wagon was obviously on its last leg and had been painted with a brush and the windshield,when he came to a hasty stop in front of camp slid out of its casement and crashed to the ground. " Hello, hows the fishing? " Martin inquired emerging from the wagon as if nothing had happened.
Didn't take long to see that Martin was a bit of a freeloader but otherwise harmless and worth having about for the "charm".
My wife and I never took him with us for a day of fishing and I don't regret that. I have fond memories of Martin and the last time I saw him was at the Spur Bar on the Thompson. He was recovering from a heart attack and had married (imagine that) a reported well to do widow and was on a bit of a tour. They had decided to drive to the Thompson for a visit and were visiting the camps at the spur.
It was late afternoon and a brisk wind from the north had most of us in camp and having a bit of fun around the fire. Martin just wandered in and obviously fit right in to this Hobo Jungle at the old railroad siding.
Many old accquaintances were renewed and disscussions of prior campaigns were hashed out. It was obvious to all that Martin did not look well, he was gray and gaunt, but he still had that "charm". I asked, just out of courtesy, if he planned to break out the cane and have a go at the Thompson and its magnifecent fish? Martin made a "statement ".
"Oh well then, they really are too much of a bother. I much perfer the smaller fish of the ------"
You know having fallen for cane myself the last couple of decades I think I understand what Martin was saying, anyway Mates one less Rod on the River may he rest in peace.

03-04-2003, 09:02 AM
Rick Hafele of Portland has graciously allowed me to share the following note regarding Dick VanDemark:

"Thanks Poul. Here's something I wrote the night before he died. Feel free to share it with others who knew Dick if you wish. Take care Poul and let's make sure we get a trip in together this summer in honor of Dick.

A Friend Says Good-bye

There's a certain stance that comes immediately to mind when I think of Dick VanDemark: Square jaw set defiantly out front, large barrel chest, firmly planted legs, and as the years went by a rather well proportioned stomach. There was intensity to this stance that could communicate many different moods. If you were another fisherman infringing on his water without the proper etiquette he could be a Pit Bull with a bad attitude. If he assessed you to be another concerned fly fisher however, he would be dispensing detailed information about the morning's successful techniques and passing on a favorite fly or two. Many people wrongly remained on the aggressive "in your face" first impression and never got to see the generous open side of Dick. That was their unfortunate loss.

Dick taught me numerous lessons, some about fishing and others about life, which I hope I can emulate. Most important I think is he showed me how to live from the heart and with passion. Above all else Dick was passionate about Nature. Everything about it - fish, bugs, birds, plants, flowers, trees, and the stars. His heart was wrapped around Nature like roots around a rock. To me Nature defined Dick more than anything else. Nature gave Dick the escape he needed from abusive foster parents. It gave him a place to put his passion and love of life when he couldn't put it in people. I think Nature was the music that played most clearly to him. And when he saw Nature suffer he suffered. He could never understand or tolerate the ability of man to be heartless to Nature. That passion drove him to work on many conservation projects, write hundreds of letters, and attend many meetings hoping to protect and do justice to Nature. His saddest moments arose from a feeling that mankind is unstoppable in our abuse and overuse of Nature. His most blissful moments arose when he was surrounded by the mystery and beauty of Nature, which he was able to see much better than most of us.

Dick was also a man of opposites. I guess we all possess some conflicting personality traits, but most of us keep these opposites hidden, unsure or too afraid to let them both out. Dick suffered no such malady. He could be intensely kind in one breath and judgmental in the next, generous and frugal, complimentary and critical, intensely spiritual and yet a devout atheist. All within the same hour! For those who couldn't see through these opposites, he could be a frustrating and difficult person. For those who did see through them he was as loyal and considerate a friend as anyone could ever hope to have. I feel truly blessed to have spent so many wonderful days fishing with Dick. We had some incredibly good days together and not just because of the fishing. Dick saw the whole landscape when he was fishing and couldn't help but share that vision with his fishing partners. I always walked away richer because of it.

I have a lot of great memories of Dick and our fishing trips together: Northern lights reflecting off a Canadian lake at 1am. Shooting stars cutting across the face of a full moon over the Oregon desert. A troupe of traveling strippers showing up at a small bar in central B.C. And fish - large trout shaking their heads at the bite of the hook, jumping like tarpon, and small fish gently released with a reverence for all life. While I might have to say good-bye, Dick will never go away because he has touched me too deeply. I only hope I can give others as much as Dick gave me.
I'll miss Dick greatly and remember him warmly with all my heart.

Your friend, Rick."