Tribute to Zeke Grader - 9.7.2015
From the desk of Joseph Bogaard
Fishing people, conservationists, friends and family are mourning the loss of a great friend and a giant. William F. “Zeke” Grader Jr. died of pancreatic cancer Monday night in San Francisco, CA. Words cannot begin to convey the sense of loss felt by so many.
Zeke was many things: warm, tough, dedicated, funny, fearless, relentless, open-minded and open-hearted. He was a loyal friend, a visionary leader, a mentor to many, a brilliant strategist, a warrior for fish and fishing people across the West Coast. Skilled in the art of disputation, Zeke was also highly respected by his adversaries.
Zeke was born the son of a fish broker in Fort Bragg – a fishing town on the north coast of California. After growing up on the docks, he trained as a lawyer and served for decades as executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources. Zeke was a tireless and unequaled advocate for fishing families on the West Coast. He committed his entire life to preserve a way of life, to protect and restore sustainable fisheries and the natural systems that fish and fishing families depend upon – healthy habitats, healthy rivers, healthy watersheds, healthy oceans.
Like the wild salmon that he championed, Zeke was a "connector" of people and issues – and he was a great friend to Save Our wild Salmon and a healthy Columbia Basin. He brought fishermen and conservationists together in effective, durable, strategic partnerships. He convinced even hardened skeptics of our common ground and shared interests. He forged alliances and friendships and understandings and a mindset that will live on.
Zeke was a giant – and his life’s work lives on in the form of friendships, alliances, healthy rivers and watersheds and fisheries and businesses and communities. His passing saddens, but I hope it also inspires. I learned a tremendous amount through the years working with Zeke. I always found it a great pleasure, and I know that I am not alone. His memory will live on in the hearts and minds of many, many others. His legacy will live on in the healthy fisheries, communities and habitats for which he so relentlessly advocated.
Be well, good friend. And thank you. -jb