Ed NicholsonFounder & President Emeritus

Ed was reared in Northern Ohio in the small town of Wadsworth, where as a youth he developed a love of the outdoors. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1964, and receiving a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy (R), he was off to sea on what he thought, at the time, was two years of obligated service.  It didn’t take long for him to decide that life in the Navy was his calling, and he transitioned to the regular Navy, embarking on a career that would span thirty years.

Along the way, there were a succession of assignments, with duty on seven ships (culminating in commands of a destroyer and frigate); Post-Graduate School in Monterey, California; a tour in Viet Nam, as a Riverine Advisor in the Mekong Delta; a stint at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, earning a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies; and, ultimately, commands of two ordnance-related shore installations, prior to his retirement as a Captain in 1994.

After retiring from the Navy, Ed worked for ten years for Applied Ordnance Technologies in Southern Maryland, the location of his last duty station.  During that time, he worked as a Program Manager on various projects, and, prior to retiring, was a Director, managing offices in three different locations.

Ed’s own stay in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in 2005, presented him with a close look at the wounded returning from the conflict in Iraq (and later Afghanistan) and was the genesis for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF).  A desire to offer fly fishing to recovering injured and wounded service members wanting to join him on outings soon (with the help of a great many others) blossomed into a project that now encompasses not only the recovering warriors of Walter Reed, but other disabled veterans in-need, at over 200 programs serving all 50 states, and our military in Germany.  In recognition of the work PHWFF has accomplished since its inception, Ed was selected as a CNN Hero in 2009. In 2010, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports presented him with their Giant Steps Civic Leader Award.  In 2012 he was selected as a Purpose Prize fellow by Encore.org, and the following year he was honored as a recipient of the 2013 Purpose Prize. In March of 2014, Ed was recognized by Field and Stream magazine with a Hero of Conservation Award, and that following August he was selected as one of Huffington Post’s “50 over 50.” In 2017, Ed and PHWFF were featured in People Magazine’s on-line publication.  Ed officially retired in March of 2017 but remains passionately involved in PHWFF and committed to helping our disabled veterans and service members enjoy a better life, through participation in fly fishing education and outings and, more importantly, in building lasting mentoring relationships that will follow them as they transition to civilian life.

Ed lives in Port Tobacco, Maryland, with his wife, Leslie, and his faithful bird-hunting companions, Pointers Ruby and Stella