March 28, 2014

A tribute to Goose

For the people living under a rock the past 20 years who didn’t savor the classic movie “Forrest Gump” multiple times, there is a wonderful yet subtle message that we are on this planet to make a difference for others.

Most people will never approach the difference-making impact in other people’s lives the way Gary “Goose” Gagnon did in his short 62 years of service to others.

He died suddenly recently, barely a month after his mother, whom he called on Facebook his “best friend,” also left this world. Were these two moments a coincidence?

It has been more than 25 years since I last spent time in a fishing boat with Goose. But we never lost touch, and Facebook in recent years was a great connector to talk sports, fishing or life.

Reviewing posts on his Facebook page over the past week reveal an incredible diversity of people who all essentially said the same thing. Goose made such a big difference in their lives.

There’s a treasured and large photo of Goose that has been with me since my days as a reporter and photographer at the Press-Republican. He’s holding up a huge northern pike we caught long ago deep in the remote waters of the Adirondacks.

It was my honor to write outdoor stories about him for the Press-Republican, as well as a major feature for Adirondack Life.

He was far more than a fishing guide to me. Goose was funny, serious and also concerned about the environment. He was passionate about life. Goose helped teach me to cherish each day and not be so consumed with bad times in the past.

When it was time, 25 years ago, to share with the world news about the growing lamprey issue in Lake Champlain, we recruited an Associated Press national reporter to come north and fish with Goose on the big lake. Along for the adventure was my lifelong friend Don Bruce from Vermont, who had never fished in a big, deep lake such as Champlain.

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