By Kelley Willett
I never had the good fortune to meet him, but I know that Farnum Alston fished all over the world. His friendships and achievements also span the globe. Farnum’s resume lists a plethora of accomplishments that are a testament to his lifelong commitment to public service and environmental protection.
I know all of this because one of his friends (a past MTU volunteer who has also given time and treasure to MTU) reached out to MTU after his death and together with Farnum’s widow, decided to honor his memory and make a big difference for Montana Trout Unlimited. They wanted his abundant fishing gear and drift boat to raise funds for cold-water conservation in Montana. As ever, MTU, is humbled when people think of us during the hardest of times.
Each year MTU hosts friends and donors on float trips to highlight the great work that their philanthropy makes possible. The aim is to show impact, and hopefully that results in more philanthropy. We’ve been rowing folks down the river in a very well-loved, two-decade old drift boat that has seen better days. Last year a staff member was ejected when a seat broke; we’ve been questioning if the boat is still safe for tours. We would not want to use donor funds to buy a new craft, which is why the gift of this beautiful, safe, comfortable boat is such a boon. We know that when people see the work, and the fish, and the repaired riparian corridors, that they want to continue giving, and in many cases give even more. A day on the water gives us the perfect place to also take about our policy, advocacy and education efforts that also benefit MT’s coldwater fisheries. We are excited to put a plaque in the boat recognizing this family for helping us and honoring this anglers’ legacy.
Fifty years from now, someone will be fishing a reach of a Montana river that was dear to this angler, and that will be thanks to his friend and his widow having the vision to honor his memory with a gift that truly keeps on giving.
To make a gift in Farnum’s memory, please consider Montana Trout Unlimited, which conserves, protects and restores the very Montana cold-water fisheries that he loved.
Checks can be mailed to: MTU, PO Box 7186, Missoula, MT 59807, or give online at www.montanatu.org.