Spence Turner and Chester Pew didn’t have much in common.
Spence was in the public eye, a well-known fisheries biologist who was a pioneer in building Missouri’s trout program to what it is today. He was known nationally for his work that resulted in good fishing for thousands.
Chester was an ageless wonder who lived to fish. He didn’t seek the spotlight nor did he get it, other than the time I featured him in a full-page article in The Kansas City Star. But make no mistake, he was newsworthy. Anybody who fishes well into their 90s and catches fish the way Chester did, that’s a story.
I got to be friends with both of them, and that’s why I am mourning their loss. They both passed away in August, and the fishing world lost two of its legends.
Spence died at age 76 on Aug. 26 after fighting pancreatic cancer. Chester passed away on Aug. 21 at the age of 96, after catching his last crappie just a week earlier.
Word of their loss touched me in a personal way. I had just seen Spence at an Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in July. I knew he wasn’t in good shape and the end was near. But he still approached me and said, “I’d still like to take you up on that offer to go fishing with you on your lake.” He never made it.
Friends who attended Chester’s funeral told me that my article on him was displayed prominently in the chapel. His family once told me that Chester was so proud of that article that he kept it folded up in his wallet, occasionally showing it to others he met.
I’ll miss them both. When they passed away, fishing lost two of its unforgettable characters.