During the Fly Fishers International Fair in Livingston, MT, on August 3, PHWFF founder Ed Nicholson presented the Patriot Award to Don Lee for sustained extraordinary service from 2011 to 2017.

Having served as a Marine in Vietnam, Don joined the Long Beach PHWFF Program in January 2011.  In January of 2012, when the annual rod building program was underway, world famous rod builder Doc Ski came to class to demonstrate.   Don learned to weave from Doc and discovered something at which he truly excels.  The rod he submitted for judging that year won first place in Category 3 of the rod building contest but that was just the start.   He continues to dramatically improve as he takes on new and increasingly difficult challenges.

One of his recent projects was a Marine “devil dog.”   This very advanced weave is composed of seven layers of 150 threads in each layer, each thread being 40 inches long.   That equals 0.8 mile of thread, all of which must be precisely straight and of equal tension.   It took seven hours just to load the loom; the first attempt turned out beautifully.  There are only three 150 thread looms in the world and Don uses one of them.

Don has done at least 60 weaves on rods for fundraising, other vets, his Kilo 37 buddies, fishing guides who donate days of guiding, various supporters and others.  He has woven rods for the 2-Fly Tournament auction or raffle for three years.   His weaves have gone to Healing on the Fly-New York twice, the Norcal 2-Pattern Tournament, Healing Towers, local fundraisers, as well as major donors and supporters of our program, both in Long Beach and nationally.   In 2016, he offered to make a rod for Rick Pope of TFO to thank him for his long-time support of PHWFF, and then made one for Leigh Perkins of Orvis.  On the TFO rod, Don wove the Lone Star state logo and, on the Orvis rod, he wove Mr. Perkins’ favorite hunting dog.   When PHWFF Founder Ed Nicholson saw the hunting dog, he asked for a rod with his own dog.

Don weaves for many hours at a time.  He says this has a calming influence on him and helps him get through tough times.  Weaving has greatly benefited him personally, but has also raised more than $27,000 in donations for PHWFF.  Most patterns will take at least 12 hours to do and each weave needs at least one test run.   The first run is at least 25 hours with subsequent runs taking 12.  The total number of hours he has dedicated to weaving designs on rods and wading staffs to be used as fundraisers or supporter gifts is staggering.

Those of us who have witnessed his progress are in awe.   Always eager to take on new projects and challenges, rarely taking a break, now he is helping other participants in the Long Beach program learn weaving.

Stunned by the announcement of this award, the first thing Don said was “Me?  We are a team.  Others deserve this with me.”  He was referring to Bill Boyce who customizes grips, to Joe Richter who does finishing and guides, Jim Wilcox who does the reel seats and Bob Guenther who contributes special wraps and techniques.   While their contributions are significant, Don’s spectacularly detailed weaving makes a lasting impression.

(L to R) Don Lee, Ed Nicholson, Carole Katz

 


Patriot Award Citation

Don Lee

3 August, 2017

PROJECT HEALING WATERS FLY FISHING, INC. (PHWFF) takes great pleasure in presenting the Patriot Award to Don Lee for sustained extraordinary service from 2011 to 2017.

Having served as a Marine in Vietnam, Don joined the Long Beach PHWFF Program in January 2011. In January of 2012, when the annual rod building program was underway, world famous rod builder Doc Ski came to class to demonstrate. Don learned to weave from Doc and discovered something at which he truly excels. The rod he submitted for judging that year won first place in Category 3 of the rod building contest but that was just the start. He continues to dramatically improve as he takes on new and increasingly difficult challenges.

One of his recent projects was a Marine “devil dog.” This very advanced weave is composed of seven layers of 150 threads in each layer, each thread being 40 inches long. That equals 0.8 mile of thread, all of which must be precisely straight and of equal tension. It took seven hours just to load the loom; the first attempt turned out beautifully. There are only three 150 thread looms in the world and Don uses one of them.

Don has done at least 60 weaves on rods for fundraising, other vets, his Kilo 37 buddies, fishing guides who donate days of guiding, various supporters and others.  He has woven rods for the 2-Fly Tournament auction or raffle for three years. His weaves have gone to Healing on the Fly-New York twice, the Norcal 2-Pattern Tournament, Healing Towers, local fundraisers, as well as major donors and supporters of our program, both in Long Beach and nationally. In 2016, he offered to make a rod for Rick Pope of TFO to thank him for his long-time support of PHWFF, and then made one for Leigh Perkins, founder of Orvis. On the TFO rod, Don wove the Lone Star state logo and, on the Orvis rod, he wove Mr. Perkins’ favorite hunting dog. When PHWFF Founder Ed Nicholson saw the hunting dog, he asked for a rod with his own dog.

Don weaves for many hours at a time. He says this has a calming influence on him and helps him get through tough times. Weaving has greatly benefitted him personally, but has also raised more than $20,000 in donations for PHWFF. Most patterns will take at least 12 hours to do and each weave needs at least one test run. The first run is at least 25 hours with subsequent runs taking 12. The total number of hours he has dedicated to weaving designs on rods and wading staffs to be used as fundraisers or supporter gifts is staggering.

Those of us who have witnessed his progress are in awe. Always eager to take on new projects and challenges, rarely taking a break, now he is helping other participants in the Long Beach program learn weaving.

The Board of Trustees of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is proud to bestow on Don Lee the Patriot Award, for his tireless and extraordinary service to Project Healing Waters and to those wounded warriors and disabled veterans whom this organization serves.