Al Campbell, Field Editor

January 28th, 2002

A Lasting Legacy
By Al Campbell

Watching an old John Wayne movie this evening, I noticed that the entire cast of leading characters is gone. By that I mean John Wayne, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin and Walter Brennan are all dead. Too bad, they were fun to watch. Fortunately, they left some fine movies behind that will entertain new generations for years to come.

I've also noticed that some of the legends of fly-fishing have recently left us behind. Most recently it was Gary LaFontaine and Phil Genova, but there have been others. There will be more in the next decade too. We all have the problem of a limited time line to deal with.

What's my point here? Well, I've been spending some time thinking about what I've done in my life that made a difference. What have I done that will carry on like that old John Wayne movie? What impact will my life have ten or twenty years after I graduate to the next level? Will I even be remembered ten or twenty years after I'm gone? Tough questions.

Does anyone ever really know what will happen twenty years from now or even tomorrow? We plan for tomorrow as we must, but none of us is guaranteed the opportunity to wake up in the morning. Life is short and things change fast. That brings me back to the question; what have I done that will last beyond my grave?

I'm fairly certain that I won't have a bunch of old movies to be remembered by. Books, articles, editorials and photos fade quickly. Chances are my legacy won't be anything as irect as those. If I'm going to have a legacy at all, it'll have to be in a different form.

Maybe the best legacy anyone could have is an impact on a young life. Call it a living legacy if you will. What I am and have become is a mix of influences others have had on my life. As far as fly-fishing is concerned, I am a legacy (in part) to a fellow named Dan Bailey. He's the gentleman who took the time many years ago, to teach a young boy of ten the basics of fly-casting. I didn't cast well, but he managed to spike my interest and hook a young guy on the sport of fly-fishing.

In turn, I've taught many other young people various aspects of the sport. Some of the people who I influenced in this art have already started teaching others, and so the legacy continues. From the man who taught Dan Bailey to several generations beyond me, the seeds of the sport continue to survive and grow. The soil of desire is fertile in young people, and fly-fishing is a hardy seed that grows easily; but it has to be planted to grow.

Again I ask myself, what have I done that will survive after I'm gone a decade or more. Sure, I have written articles and taken pictures that might still be around then, but they don't provide the lasting legacy that planting a seed in a young mind can provide. Fortunately, I have planted many seeds too.

What is your legacy? What are you doing that will last beyond your time? If you are investing in youth, your legacy is secure. If not, I wonder if you'll have an impact ten years beyond your time. Something to think about; isn't it? ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns
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