FFV President Tom Mlot (R) presenting Douglas Dear the FFV Nat Burgwyn Lifetime Achievement Award.
The FFV presented Douglas Dear the FFV Nat Burgwyn Lifetime Achievement Award at our January Annual Banquet.
Douglas is a lifelong angler who spent his childhood fishing the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland. White Perch, Rockfish and Blues made up the bulk of his early catches from the small skiff that he piloted almost every day after school. As a teenager the family moved to the Tidewater Virginia area and the prey became speckled trout on the Ware River and bass and bluegill in the areas many farm ponds. It was the farm pond fishing that led Douglas to teach himself to fly fish with a twenty dollar Fenwick rod at age 15
Leaving Tidewater Douglas headed to Blacksburg, Virginia to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he graduated with a B.S. in Business. He then went on to earn an MBA in Finance and Real Estate from The American University in Washington, D.C., where he was a Society of Real Estate Counselor’s Fellow. He later served as a member of the Advisor Board of the Kogod School of Business at The American University.
It was his work in multifamily real estate finance that took him frequently to the west and reacquainted his hand with the fly rod. A fishing trip with a mortgage banking client and expert fly angler, reset the fly fishing hook. During the next 15 years he fly fished on most of the major, and many of the minor, trout waters in the Eastern and Western United States. He also traveled international in pursuit of Bone Fish, Permit and other salt water species.
His real estate finance work culminated in being part of the senior management team that took Washington Mortgage (NASDAQ WMFG) public and subsequently sold the company to Prudential Insurance Company (NYSE PRU). Douglas resigned from Prudential as the Managing Director in charge of National Multifamily Originations to found Chesapeake Ventures LLC. Chesapeake is a private investment company, focused on investments in farm / recreational land development, income producing real estate and other business interests. At the same time Douglas purchased the land for Rose River Farm, creating trout fly fishing preserve that is located in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. In 2011 luxury rental cabins were added creating a full service fishing destination.
Through his ownership of the Farm, with its prime trout water, Douglas was made aware of a Retired Navy Captain (Ed Nicholson) who wanted to take a few injured soldiers from Walter Reed fly fishing. “My Grandfather was a West Point graduate and career Army Officer so the military has always been very important to my family. When I heard about these wounded warriors in need of a place to fish I was very excited and wanted to help in every way possible.” It was through this association with the “Captain” that Project Healing Waters became a major focus for Douglas leading to, at Ed’s request, his acceptance of the Board Chairmanship.
As the Chairman of the Board and founding Trustee of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Inc, and now Chairman Emeritus,. Douglas has been involved in all aspects of growing the organization that is dedicated to helping current armed service members and Veterans rehabilitate their injuries through fly fishing and fly tying. The program has gone from serving strictly Walter Reed to now working with over 170 major Armed Service Medical Centers,VA Hospitals, and Warrior Transition Units nationwide. In 2011 Douglas was recognized a LL Bean National Outdoor Hero for his work with PHWFF.
At the March diner meeting the FFV presented Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing founder Ed Nicholson with the Nat Burgwyn Lifetime Achievement award.
Phil Johnson (R) had the honor of presenting the award to Ed.
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT EMERITUS – ED NICHOLSON
Ed was reared in Northern Ohio in the small town of Wadsworth, where as a youth he developed a love of the outdoors. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1964, and receiving a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy (R), he was off to sea on what he thought, at the time, was two years of obligated service. It didn’t take long for him to decide that life in the Navy was his calling, and he transitioned to the regular Navy, embarking on a career that would span thirty years.
Along the way, there were a succession of assignments, with duty on seven ships (culminating in commands of a destroyer and frigate); Post-Graduate School in Monterey, California; a tour in Viet Nam, as a Riverine Advisor in the Mekong Delta; a stint at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, earning a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies; and, ultimately, commands of two ordnance-related shore installations, prior to his retirement as a Captain in 1994.
After retiring from the Navy, Ed worked for ten years for Applied Ordnance Technologies in Southern Maryland, the location of his last duty station. During that time, he worked as a Program Manager on various projects, and, prior to retiring, was a Director, managing offices in three different locations.
Ed’s own stay in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in 2005, presented him with a close look at the wounded returning from the conflict in Iraq (and later Afghanistan) and was the genesis for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF). A desire to offer fly fishing to recovering injured and wounded service members wanting to join him on outings soon (with the help of a great many others) blossomed into a project that now encompasses not only the recovering warriors of Walter Reed, but other disabled veterans in-need, at over 200 programs serving all 50 states, and our military in Germany. In recognition of the work PHWFF has accomplished since its inception, Ed was selected as a CNN Hero in 2009. In 2010, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports presented him with their Giant Steps Civic Leader Award. In 2012 he was selected as a Purpose Prize fellow by Encore.org, and the following year he was honored as a recipient of the 2013 Purpose Prize. In March of 2014, Ed was recognized by Field and Stream magazine with a Hero of Conservation Award, and that following August he was selected as one of Huffington Post’s “50 over 50.” In 2017, Ed and PHWFF were featured in People Magazine’s on-line publication. Ed officially retired in March of 2017 but remains passionately involved in PHWFF and committed to helping our disabled veterans and service members enjoy a better life, through participation in fly fishing education and outings and, more importantly, in building lasting mentoring relationships that will follow them as they transition to civilian life.
Ed lives in Port Tobacco, Maryland, with his wife, Leslie, and his faithful bird-hunting companions, Pointers Ruby and Stella.