When I think of Rance, I think of a stoic being who truly and deeply loved nature and the Yuba River. I met Rance in 2000 when I started volunteering and then working for SYRCL. I’m not sure if it was his quirky smile or the fact that he liked to chat my ear off that won me over. Or perhaps it was his denim and suede vest combinations that I loved; he felt old-timey with a full graying beard. He could almost be mistaken for a man from another time period, a John Muir of sorts. Besides being one of my many volunteers, he and I became quick friends.
An avid fly fisherman, Rance could tie some of the most intricate & beautiful ties I’ve ever seen, some of which he donated to SYRCL’s yearly auction, always perfectly arranged in an (Altoids) mint tin. Even though Rance lived closest to the Middle Fork of the Yuba, he loved spending time on the Lower Yuba, especially during the fall where he could view the Yuba’s native spawning Chinook Salmon. I never had much of an interest in fish or fishing, but it Rance’s love and appreciation had an impact on me. In fact, he gave me my first and only fly fishing lesson. I learned to cast on a sunshiny Nevada City day standing atop a plastic milk crate at Pioneer Park– no water or fish in sight.
Most of my memories of Rance are from my six years at the SYRCL office on Main Street in Nevada City where he was a frequent visitor, always with a twinkle in his eyes. I was fortunate enough on one occasion to visit Rance and his dear wife Greta at their North San Juan Ridge area home. While sharing a vegetarian lunch, I was delighted to learn more about Rance’s early days in Illinois, his masonry skills, his daily Chi Gong and meditation practices and to view in person, the pond in which he swam 365 days a year, no matter the weather.
A longtime practicing Buddhist, I am certain that Rance had been preparing for his death for a long time, but it doesn’t sadden his passing for the rest of us who knew him.
Shine on sweet Rance. I will remember your gentle kindness, your enduring love of nature and your gift for knowing and having me in your life. I will miss your spirit, but will be reminded of you with each and every visit I make to our beloved free-flowing and wild Yuba River.
With love, Kayle Martin (SYRCL Volunteer & Event Coordinator 2000-2006)
“Rance has been a good friend and fishing companion since we met at SYRCL some 20 years ago. He was a man of great compassion, a lover of fish and rivers and a tireless advocate for the health of the Yuba watershed.”
~Greg Leeson, longtime SYRCL Volunteer and River Monitor
“Rance was a very sensitive and gentle person who cared deeply about the people and places he loved. I am holding Rance, his wife Greta and their family and friends in the light. Roll on mighty Yuba, roll on…”
~ Evangeline Elston, former SYRCL Development Director and Board Member, 1999-2006
“Rance’s smile and the sparkle in his eyes was always like sunshine in the SYRCL office – I looked forward to a visit by Rance. He deeply loved the Yuba and all its creatures – and this was reflected in the passion and dedication he had for the organization.”
~ Kathy Dotson, former SYRCL River People Director and Co-founder of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, 2000-2010
“Rance’s smile will live on forever in our memories. He was such a compassionate, joyful and jovial fellow. When Rance spoke with you, he was so present and kind, always making everyone feel like they matter. His dedication to SYRCL, the Yuba and all of us who knew him was a gift we will always cherish.”
~ Wendy Thompson, former SYRCL River Monitoring Program Coordinator, 2004-2008
Did you enjoy this post?
Get new SYRCL articles delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our ENews.