Soon a life-sized bronze statute of Verlen Kruger will be placed on the banks of his beloved Grand River at Portland.
The dedication and unveiling of the statue will take place at Thompson Field at 4 PM on Saturday June 26, 2010.
In connection with this ceremony there will be a program at Portland High School the evening before where Verlen's biographer, Phil Peterson, will tell the Verlen Kruger Story. Autographed copies of Phil's book All Things Are Possible will be available.
On Saturday morning at 9:30 AM there will be an assembling of Kruger designed and built canoes including Loons, Monarchs, Sea Winds, Dream Catchers and Cruisers at Thompson Field for a group photograph. His newly restored "Old #10" racing canoe will be included.
Also on Saturday there will be a Memorial Paddle on the Grand from Sebewa Creek to Thomson Field. Launch at 10:30 AM.
Here is my tribute to Verlen for this occasion:
Canoes and canoeists and history are my thing...so how did my friend and fellow member of "The Greatest Generation" Verlen Kruger and his canoes fit in?
In birchbark canoes: There were Marquette and Joliet discovering the Mississippi in 1673....LaSalle down the Illinois and Mississippi to the Gulf in 1682....Hugh Heward across Lower Michigan in 1790....the fur traders and voyageurs on the Great Lakes and Canadian waters in the 1700s and 1800s....Verlen and his partners or disciples traced most of those trips in Kruger designed and built canoes....In some cases two or three times.
In partially decked solo oak and cedar British-built Rob Roy canoes (evolved from Siberian kayaks): There were traveler-adventurer John MacGregor in Europe (A 1,000 Miles in the Rob Roy), the Baltic (Rob Roy on the Baltic) and the Holy Land (Rob Roy on the Jordan)....Author Robert Louis Stevenson in Europe (An Inland Voyage)....Sea Scout founder Warrington Baden-Powell on the Baltic (Canoe Traveling ) all in the 1860s and 1870s....Verlen knew of these trips and patterned his solo canoes after the Rob Roys.
In a Henry Rushton American-built lapstrake all-cedar light weight solo canoe patterned after the Rob Roys: Civil War hero Willard Glazier went down the Mississippi to the Gulf in 1886 (Down the Great River)....Verlen and his partners paddled that river all the way in both directions in Kruger kevlar canoes and are in the Guinness Book of Records.
Then there are the books about a couple of his multi-thousand mile trips, One Incredible Journey and The Ultimate Canoe Challenge, of which he is co-author. What a guy! And he didn't start until he was 41....I had retired my Old Town wood and canvas canoes by then.
As you may know, Verlen and I were born the same year, were both World War II veterans and both did occupation duty in Korea but I got over adventuring early on. He never did once he got started. I am so priviledged to have known and been friends with that 5'6" giant.
On the Grand River
in Delta Township