Dean Ford started Friends of Sugar Creek in 1987 and served as the board president for 18 years. Read his FSC story below:

By R. Dean Ford

It all began on a sunny afternoon in June 1987 when 35 miles of Sugar Creek turned the color of “coffee," leaving thousands of dead and dying fish to slowly drift downstream. Anglers and canoeists were a common sight that day, but I was the only one who bothered to report the incident to the DNR and local media. The newspaper printed a small 2 1/2 inch column on page 2; "Brown Water Being Investigated," then the incident was quietly forgotten. After dozens of phone calls and letters to state and local authorities over the next three months, I had to face the truth. No one knew what killed the fish and even more disturbing, no one cared. Then I got mad.

Anger is often associated with irrational behavior and it’s a good idea to delay making important decisions until one has cooled down. But it was my anger that drove me to the post office where I rented a box and called myself "Friends of Sugar Creek." The next day I mailed a long letter to the newspaper describing everything I had experienced the previous three months, along with an invitation to join. Then the letters started pouring in.

I didn’t know what I was getting into in 1987 and my limited education and lack of experience did little to bolster my self-confidence. But to my amazement, the soon-to-be FSC board of directors quickly filled with the best and brightest people in the area, as it is today. Each played a critical role in the development of the organization, including Raoul Moore, Bert Stern, Kim VanArsdell, Richard Ristine, Jim Gammon, Edith C. Dallinger, Ted Harris, David Polley, Charles McCarthy and Connie Hamilton, to name a few. The FSC owes its success to the wonderful people who serve on the board, and I have been privileged and honored to know them all.

The current board has raised the bar even higher with the promise of new and creative ideas to meet the challenges ahead. The confidence and trust I have in them made my decision to retire last November much easier, but it was still difficult. I will never forget my anxiety when my only son left home to face the world on his own, but this was different. The FSC was my idea, never my child. But when the community decided to adopt the FSC it became our child.

Today the Sugar Creek Watershed is a little cleaner, a little safer, more respected and better understood thanks to the generosity and support of those who believe in our mission. I've given my share of time and hard work over the years, but the real credit belongs to the courageous board members, volunteers and supporters who never stopped believing in our work. I’ll never stop believing in them.

This 18-year journey has enriched and changed my life and I’m a better man from the experience. I’m very proud of the many contributions we’ve made to our community and State, and look forward to my new role as a volunteer. I will always love and support the Friends of Sugar Creek, and I hope you will too. Thank you.

(On November 1, 2005, Dean Ford resigned from the FSC board of directors. )