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Conservationist Bud Slingerlend Passes Away at 98

July 1st, 2013

by Paul and Carol Rose

It is with sadness that we let you all know that Bud Slingerlend passed away on Saturday, June 29.  As is so often the case when one achieves the age of 98, his system began to shut down and he died peacefully in his sleep.

A service in his memory will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 3, in North Branch (northern Lapeer County) at the Blackburn Chapel-Martin Funeral Home, 4216 Huron Street (M-90), (810) 688-3232To send along your condolences, you may wish to send a card to Bud’s wife, Barbara at 5674 Lake Pleasant Road, North Branch, MI 48461. She may also be reached at (810) 688-4347. 

For those who knew Bud, he would have loved to be at the service himself, to see dear friends and to share some of his many stories about his active and remarkable life.

When Bud came into this world in 1915, the world was involved in a great war. The great conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt was still alive, Woodrow Wilson was President, and times were tough.  The landscape Bud grew up in was defined by the impacts of the great logging era and the vigorous exploitation of our state and nation’s natural resources.  He was a witness to the clear-cut forests, the liberal consumption of our wildlife, and the effects of unchecked industry on our lakes and rivers and the air he breathed.

He left home as a lad and struck off on his own during the lean Depression years. Sustaining himself with odd jobs, Bud’s years of “hoboing” as a teenager taught him many of the lessons he applied to the lifetime he dedicated to conservation causes — to work hard, work honorably, and fight with determination and conviction.

Serendipity brought Bud into contact with a former teacher from high school who helped him secure a scholarship  to Central Michigan University.  In addition to his double major in Chemistry and Physics, Bud found work anywhere he could, lived in a “rustic” 7′ x 14′ x 6′ cabin off campus, and hunted and fished to sustain himself.

Bud went on to work for Chrysler as a chemical engineer, but was always curious about things, a quality that he has carried with him throughout his long life.  He always found it a good practice to “measure your own ignorance on a particular matter and then surround yourself with people who know more than you do to help accomplish what needs to be done.”  Bud did just that, time and time again. We’ve heard of his accomplishments as a result of his tenure in the State House of Representatives – the   Water Pollution Control Act of 1965, the first  Sanitary Landfill Act, the infamous Bottle Bill, and introducing the appropriations bill for funding for the introduction of Pacific Salmon into the Great Lakes.

After leaving the State House, Bud continued to make time for conservation, environmental and hunting and fishing issues. He was a member of numerous sportsmen’s, hunting, trapping and conservation clubs, serving many in the capacity of President or Director. He was a Past President of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), an accomplishment of which he was most proud.  Bud also continued to represent MUCC as a longtime member of the Pigeon River Advisory Council.

Bud and his wife Barb lived on the East Branch of the Upper Black River in Montmorency County for decades.  Like most rivers in northern Michigan, the Black River suffered from the intensive log movement during the logging days at the turn of the century.  Knowing that if he could just surround himself with the right people who knew how to restore his beloved river,  Bud became the catalyst behind the creation of the Upper Black River Watershed Restoration Committee (UBRWRC) which he served as its Chairman from 1993 to 2008.

At the age of 97, Bud was an inaugural inductee to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame.

Throughout his 98 years, Bud Slingerlend’s list of accomplishments is remarkable.  His was a voice to be listened to on state and local levels on issues ranging from river restoration to hunting, fishing and trapping laws, from the oil and gas industry to second amendment rights. Though small in physical size, Bud’s contributions to the people of the State of Michigan have been huge.

Bud Slingerlend truly made conservation his life’s work. He was the kind of man who doesn’t seem to come along much anymore, one who puts the outcome ahead of his personal glorification, who will fight tirelessly for the causes he holds most dear.  During a time when there are those working very hard to diminish the State’s great conservation legacy, we could certainly use more people like Bud fighting the good fight.

Like most of us, Bud’s life was shaped by the times in which he lived.  Unlike most, Bud’s life’s work helped shape the world in which we live.

Godspeed, Bud Slingerlend.  You were one of a kind.

  • Grand-daughter

    I knew him as Grandpa, my kids as Great Grandpa – in
    his later years he took the time to write back and forth with my, then 11 and 12 year old daughter – those letters quickly became treasures to her and she will cherish them always.

    Your words here are simply wonderful. Brought me to tears. The time you took to so thoughtfully remember grandpa – it means a lot.

    Thank you – and as I told a friend “Grandpa is hunting, fishing, conserving and recycling his way through heaven now”

    Rest in Peace Grandpa.

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