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 I 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!
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 Shock
Don provided a rock for the plaque and a stage for the ceremony,
He opened the barn for our temporary museum and Pig Roast and provided parking on the lawn adjacent to the shop.
Dr Ernest Schwiebert was the speaker.
The second year he helped us celebrate by making Allentown’s 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.
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.
This manuscript is a work in progress. As it develops I will expand on Dons accomplishments such as;
Name the Pools
Stream improvements, ad many others.
Please follow its development at flylehigh.com.
Thoughts, suggestions and comments are welcome.