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November 13th, 2008, 09:30 AM #1Tribute to a flyfishers tragic death last week.
My son Jeremy informed me when I got back to Denver yesterday that one of our fly fishing buddies on the Green River in Dutch John Utah was killed last Thursday while he was trying to move a pigeon coop. He had jacked it up to put the wheels on and while attaching the axle, one of the jacks slipped and he was crushed to death. This guy was a great example not only for our industry, but of the American Dream and how it is achieved, and for what others may aspire to with hard work and persistence.
His name was Denny Breer. He moved to Dutch John, UT back in the early eighties to become a river guide on the Green River, which is (thanks to Denny) a legendary tailwater below the Flaming Gorge Lake. He had zero dollars, but loved fly fishing and wanted to pursue his dream of becoming the go-to source of knowledge on this great tailwater.
He rolled into town with two nickels between he and his wife Grace. They lived in a tiny trailer at first while he got his feet wet learning the river, aquatic entomology, and the many requirements of becoming a licensed outfitter. In the mid eighties he began guiding and saving his pennies. They eventually got a little home and they took the trailer they had lived in, placed it on a lot he acquired and then opened it as a little fly fishing store. By then he had hired a couple guides and was also avidly traveling to fly shops and sportsman shows to promote the Green River and his “Trout Creek Flies” guide service.
By the mid nineties, he had become the areas best known / respected guide service and got deeply / intimately involved with conservation and wildlife management for the area. It was in 1995 that I first met Denny, when he came to do a presentation on the Green River at our local flyshop in Evergreen, CO, the Blue Quill Angler. He was such a nice person with a natural / genuine cordial way about him and a great enthusiasm about his Green River. In the later 90's he published his first book on the Green River and it remains the definitive source for those in the fly fishing industry on this magnificent fishery.
I did my first fly trip on the Green in 1996 with Jeremy. We called Denny and arranged for a guided float trip down the river. That day, Jeremy and I caught 100 + beautiful Rainbow Trout. Though the Green became one of my favorite fisheries, I was almost equally drawn to Denny's personality, work ethic, genuine concern for conservation of the waters, his natural / sincere interest and dialogue with every person he engaged in conversation, and his personal pursuit of his dream.
In 2000, he took the next big step in building his dream by building and opening a large fly shop with adjacent restaurant, gas station, convenience store and then a log sided motel in Dutch John. As DJ is a very rural area, miles away from any cities, it became the place where we all hung out when fishing the area, had lunch, bought our fly gear, rented rooms, and met up with other fly fishermen and guides. Many great memories ensued.
By 2003 he had 33 guides working through his shop and had turned his dream into a huge success, doing over two million annually in guide trips and retail sales. For a rural community of less than 800 population, that was monumental. His success created much needed jobs for many of the locals, and he was like a father, friend and brother to his staff. He was a classic example of a person who not only lived, but drove the American Dream. He went from nothing - to great success through hard work, persistence and service to his community. Today, his thriving businesses and properties in the area are worth several million dollars and it all started with a penniless fisherman’s dream to succeed, and willingness to pay the price.
Denny and Grace, thank you for all you have done to make the Green River experience what it is today. My entire family and the many friends and fellow fishermen that we have brought to Dutch John to experience the Green River, as well as all fly fishermen who now enjoy the experience of the Green have lost a dear friend to the environment, the sport and the community to which you gave so much. You will be in our thoughts every time we visit the Green and in the memories of all who came to know you. Rest in peace my friend...
November 13th, 2008, 10:54 AM #2
I think Denny was also blessed to have friends like you.
What a wonderful example of how to live this short life we are given.
My prayers are with you and his family.Dyan Carlson
["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama
November 13th, 2008, 02:19 PM #3
Sounds like a great man and friend. The world needs more like Denny Breer. At least he was able to see his dream develop and enjoy some of the fruits of his business. To hear of anyone perishing in this manner is difficult, but someone who started from nothing and built a great service to many---that is terrible.
November 13th, 2008, 02:30 PM #4
Amazing life story... and what a tragic and abrupt end of life.
November 13th, 2008, 07:27 PM #5
November 13th, 2008, 09:13 PM #6
Out of respect and pride for Denny, I could not think of a better tribute to Denny than this picture, the monument to his success, his wonderful 7,000 sq ft multi - business dream come true. It will now serve as a living, operating and very profitable monument to his memory. He was one of the good ones... one of the best.
November 14th, 2008, 04:50 AM #7
Beautiful tribute Alan. Makes me feel as if I knew him.
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November 14th, 2008, 11:43 AM #8
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November 14th, 2008, 05:12 PM #9
Its a nice tribute for an achiever. I felt a sense of loss but was also inspired to read how he lived to achieve his dreams.
Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Denny Breer.
November 14th, 2008, 09:02 PM #10
Fittingly Ron, all of us who knew Denny and watched / cheered / supported the growth of his dream are struck with the sense of loss that you mention, so I appreciate your kind thoughts.
The pigeon coop he was trying to move housed his prize racing pigeons, which was also a passion of his. He has bred and competed in carrier and distance pigeon events for many years.
Prior to opening his guide service and other subsequent businesses in Dutch John, he guided in Alaska for eight years and was also very involved in environmental issues up there. He was a genuine person who actually practiced the virtue of contributing to the good of others and to the waters from which he built such a great enterprise.
One of Denny's most endearing qualities was that no matter how busy he was, or how much pressure he was handling, he always balanced it with a genuine interest in serving the community, as well as his customers. If the pressure got to him, like it can for all of us, Denny would take an early morning or evening, pack his fly rod, jump in his drift boat and take a 7 mile drift down the Green River to get the knots untied. As beautiful as the Green river is, I can well understand how that alone could remind a river / nature lover how fortunate we are to have such places to which we can retreat.
I am just grateful to have known this wonderful guy and to have enjoyed genuine comraderie with him. Thanks for caring, he deserves the respect and good things that so many people in the Dutch John area and the entire fly fishing community are remembering about him. We have truly lost a quality individual who set a high standard for others to emulate.
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