Retired colleagues of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service gathered for their 7th annual reunion in Portland, Oregon, from September 15-18, 2005. Over 250 retirees and spouses from across the U.S. and their guests, along with current Service personnel, gathered for the social activities and field trips. The theme of this reunion was the Lewis & Clark ‘Corps of Discovery’ who 200 years ago was headed down the Columbia River on their way to over-winter on the Pacific Ocean. The reunion site was the Red Lion Hotel on the banks of the Columbia River, a place one could close their eyes and just imagine a fleet of half-starved, scruffy men paddling dug out canoes. The retirees visited the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the newly completed replica of a Cathlapotle plankhouse, a site that the expedition visited on their journey. The journals describe a series of these large plankhouses along the banks of the river with a population of Cathlapotle people equal to that of St. Louis. Also visited was the Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery to view the migrating Tule fall chinook salmon and spawning operations. They then were treated to a salmon bar-b-que and attended the dedication of the new Lower Columbia River Fish Health Center at Willard, Washington. It is a far cry from the original first fish health biologist in this area who’s lab was one corner of a hatchery building, a table and a microscope. The new fish health center represents an advanced, state-of-the-art fish health laboratory. The lab delivers varied fish health diagnostic, treatment, and prevention support to Service hatcheries in the lower Columbia as well as working to preserve the health of the precious remaining wild stocks of fish in the Columbia River Basin, which remains one of the world’s at risk and most important salmon producing areas.
Many local Service personnel joined with the retirees for an icebreaker social and at the annual banquet. The social featured heavy hors d’oeuvres and some of the famous Northwest microbrew beer while the banquet featured a Northwest theme of crab stuffed salmon and Willamette Valley wines. The latent artistic talent among retirees was also evident with the donation of watercolors, pictures, carved ivory jewelry for the raffles and silent auction. This personal touch augmented the generous donations of local companies such as Leopold & Stevens who contributed a largess of optical and clothing products. Overall, the reunion brought together many former co-workers and highlighted many old memories and story telling. Overheard were statements like, “It is the first of these I have attended but likely not the last. It was great seeing so many old friends after so many years! You can count on me for a wood carving donation at next year’s event!” And to think, it all started just 6 years ago when 13 retirees gathered at the National Conservation Training Center and has now grown into this much anticipated annual event. The 2006 reunion is already scheduled in Albuquerque during balloon fiesta week.
On a business note, the Association of Retired FWS Employees held its first formal meeting. The newly elected Board of Directors began a new era of leading the fledging group of retired colleagues into a formal organization. The Board members and officers are Judy Pulliam, Chairperson; Wendell Ogden, Vice Chair; John Blankenship, Secretary-Treasurer; and, Jerry French, Jerry Grover, Denny Holland, Dorothe Norton, Jo Quinter, Peter Stine completing the Board membership.
See the list of Registered Retirees and Guests at the 2005 Reunion
If you have photos or remembrances of this reunion, please contact us at web@FWSRetirees.org