Don Marushak, passed away March 12, 2014.
The husband of 44 years to Bernadette R. (Ruggierio) Marushak. he was a graduate of Whitehall High School,
earned a bachelor’s degree in from Kutztown University and a master’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan.
Don taught science at both Allen and Dieruff high schools.
At Dieruff he founded a club dedicated to biology, conservation, and wildlife study called the “Swamp Stompers”, started the school’s environmental park and
taught Dieruff’s first environmental science class.
He was named Pennsylvania Science Teacher of the year in 1968 .
As Allentown’s Superintendent of Parks he oversaw the development and expansion of numerous parks, such as Buck Boyle Park, Keck Park, Lehigh Parkway, Roosevelt Park, and Trout Creek Park. He was involved in the acquisition of open space land at Lehigh Mountain and South Mountain.
He worked on the installation of dozens of public art works.
… and led the construction of the first Lights in the Parkway at Lehigh Parkway.
After retiring from the parks department, Donald went to work for Mayfair in Allentown as the Executive Director and worked as a consultant to Urban Research and Development Corporation in Bethlehem.
He later returned to teaching at Whitehall High School and then at Lehigh Carbon Community College
An avid outdoorsman, Don was a Deputy Fish Warden for the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, (1)
The above except from Don’s obituary doesn’t even mention his incredible contributions he made to Fly Fishing and Allentown Pennsylvania’s Little Lehigh.
I love to visit centers of fly fishing memorabilia.
Fly fishing museums keep me aware of my fly fishing heritage.
Artifacts from the time of the Darbys, the Dettes, Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro Jim Leisenreing and others are priceless and irreplaceable.
I cherish the opportunity to connect with these and other legends,
It occurs to me while we rightfully honor these icons, we are missing the boat.
In my travels I observe local fly fishing communities and find a plethora of local personalities no one ever heard of.
Men like Don provided great contributions to local waterways and our sport, often with no financial return and no recognition from their community.
Don is the epitome of this situation.
As Don and closed the deal establishing the Little Lehigh Fly Shop, he looked me square in he eye and said…
Contract or no contract,” I want your assurance you will do anything you can to protect and promote Little Lehigh Parkway.” He meant it!
Jim Leisenring Memorial
Our first project was to memorialize the father of wet fly fishing in America, Allentown’s own Big Jim.
The father of this project was bamboo rod builder Dale Schoch
Don provided a rock for the plaque and
a stage for the ceremony,
He opened the barn for our temporary museum and Pig Roast, Dr Ernest Schwiebert was the speaker…
parking on the lawn adjacent to the shop.
The second year he helped us celebrate by making Allentowns historic Bogerts covered bridge available
He cleaned it up, provided temporary lighting, tables,chairs and a sound system.
Gary Borger spoke after we enjoyed a pig roast in the covered bridge.
Little Lehigh Fly Fisher Gordon Hyndford was a travelling stage hand with the Rolling Stones. He provided tickets for our raffle.
At that time Bethlehem’s Musikfest was using wooden frame booths to house its venders.
Don decided we should do the same.
He contacted Bethlehem, arranged to borrow a dozen of them sent a city truck to pick them up and set them up.
Handicapped access ramp
This was our next project.
The local Trout Unlimited club had been trying to navigate the Pennsylvania Fish Commission
Bureaucracy for years. We went to Don for advice.
He asked if we had plans, we showed them to him.
He asked if we had a list of materials. We showed him.
He asked we could start the following weekend. We said yes.
Can you finish in a weekend? Yes.
I asked how he wanted us to handle the bureaucracy and permits; he said “we’re not going to get any permits. What are they going to do? Make us take down a handicapped access ramp?”
The following weekend, tons of rock, all the lumber we needed, a back hoe and a parks department / volunteer operator showed up.
We finished in a day.
The project designer a Little Lehigh Fly Fishe,r Steve Jones of Quakertown, supervised the construction.
Surviving 20 years of floods it remains in the condition it was in the day it was built.
Name The Pools
Little Lehigh Fly Fishers described the stream it by referring to landmarks “the pool, at the bend, by the big tree. CUMBERSOME!.
We decided to copy New York’s Beaverkill and name the pools.
We held a contest selecting the best names as the winners
Don had the city produce signs for each pool and had them installed at each pool.
When the Pennsylvania Fish Commission decided to allow wading in the Heritage section, Don recognized the threat to a sacred fly fishing tradition.
He asked me assemble every Little Lehigh Fly Fisher we could
He presented an approach which required a serious effort.
Don drafted a petition for us which we placed in every appropriate establishment in Southeast Pennsylvania.
He cautioned us, “Beaurocrats don’t care about, or read petitions, they do read letters.”
Don said,”… preserving the heritage section will take the serious effort of collecting all the petitions then contacting every signatory.”
We were to ask each person to send a hand written ,cerebral, courteous, business like letter to the Fish Commission and local politicians. “Explain the reasons the no wading regulations should not change.”
After being overwhelmed with letters, we received a letter from The Fish Commission, thanking us for providing information they were unaware of.
They withdrew the proposal.
The Springhouse Pool and Sulphur Lane were experiencing bank erosion.
A conversation with Don resulted in the arrival of 55 tons of rock, Waterways Patrolman Fred Mussel to supervise, a backhoe with an operator and work release prisoners under the supervision of Little Lehigh Fly Fisher and Corrections Officer Richard Rone.
The improvements were incredible.
In keeping with the Little Lehigh’s effort to promote Allentown’s Parkway we decided to do a lobster bake.
Jim Filip, owner of Doris and Eds* in Highlands NJ was the catalyst for this affair.
Jim provided his incredible expertise, obtained the seafood at Fulton Fish Markets cost, acquired Maine seaweed ,assembled the bakes and plated them.
Each attendee dined on two Maine Lobsters, Mussels’, Clams, baked potato, corn on the cob, Ceaser salad and desert. Cost-$22.00
Don provided a back hoe and driver to dig a pit, rocks to line it with and wooden pallets to burn.
A successful day thanks to Jim and Don.
*Chef Bobby Flay dined at Doris and Ed's, in Highlands, NJ, one of his favorite seaside eateries at the Jersey Shore, on Food Network's FoodNation with Bobby Flay.
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission decided to change the Heritage Section from FLY FISHING ONLY to ARTIFICIAL LURES. Don recognized the affront to angling tradition. He immediately drafted a letter to the Fish Commissioner for Allentown Mayor Joe Dedona.
The “gist” of the letter follows:
You may be in charge of the Commonwealth’s waterways, but I’m in charge of Allentown’s Little Lehigh Parkway.
If you intend to allow spinning gear, fishermen will have to jump into the stream from bridges.
I will not allow spinning gear on the property and will post it accordingly
TRADITION PREVAILED THANKS TO MAYOR JOE AND DON.