A Memorial Gathering to Celebrate the Life of Mike Fong
April 26, 1939- June 23, 2002
by Marty Seldon,
Rita and I felt a little strange at first entering the Picasso Room on June 14th at the Spanish Cultural Center in South San Francisco after having attended several of Mike's Inside Angler Flyfish Parties in the same venue.
After we gave Christine and Corin a hug and were welcomed by Fanny and Mel Krieger, we started to warm up as the hall filled with over 200 of Mike's friends and admirers.
Mel Krieger acted as M.C. followed by talks by Nelson Ishiyama, Mike Mitchalak, Lani Waller, and Bob Nauheim. Others got rose to share their remembrances including Palo Alto Fly Fishers' Jack Thomas and Peggy Whitson, Bill Whitson's wife.
People from all walks of life and relatives remembered Mike's friendly and helpful attitude. Mike had one of the best jobs in the world, fishing and then writing about it. He was greatly admired by everyone that knew him.
After an interlude performance by Babak Falsafi of some of Mike's favorite classical Spanish guitar music, memorial readings included "A Poem for Dad" by Corin Fong and Christine's "A Remembrance of Mike."
Christine followed her Remembrance with a wonderful slide show about Mike and their life together accompanied by outstanding musical selections keyed to the slides.
Memorial attendees got together to talk about Mike on a one to one basis during refreshments, again with Babak Falsafi's guitar, over an authentic Spanish buffet that included some of our favorites Paella, tortilla Español, plates of Mancheco and much more.
The people, the music, the photographs, and slides along with the food and wine all combined to make this an ideal memorial to a fine gentleman and fly fisher.
Comments made by Marty Seldon during the Memorial
I've known Mike and Chris for a long time. As a member of the FFF Executive Committee, I was on the search committee that resulted in our selection of Mike as Editor of FFF Flyfisher Magazine in 1976. Mike served as Editor of Flyfisher from 1977-1982 and did a great job, making significant improvements in both the magazine's literary, photo, and layout quality. Chris became the Flyfisher Photographer and It was a great association that culminated in Mike receiving the FFF Arnold Gingrich Memorial Literary Award in 1996.
The story of Mike Fong's passing spread like a forest fire over the Internet. Ralph Cutter and other friends like Bob Nauheim commiserated with us on Dan Blanton's Bulletin Board and I think all of us were and still are in a state of shock. We still find it very difficult to believe, something that we don't want to believe, but something that we now need to come to grips with. Mike was a fine gentleman and our angling family will not be the same without him.
I have some words from Jim Rainey, Federation of Fly Fishers Executive Director, that I would like to pass along:
Mike Fong was a giant in the world of fly fishing. His tireless efforts did much to popularize and advance our sport. He has left a legacy that will benefit future generations of fly anglers, and for this the Federation of Fly Fishers will be forever grateful.
Jim Rainey, Executive Director
Dan Blanton also could not be with us and asked me to pass along his thoughts:
Sorry to say that I won't be there because I'm leaving Saturday the 13th for the annual dorado trip to Loreto. However, my thoughts and prayers for Mike and family will be there. Please offer my condolences, sympathy and well wishes to the family and friends attending. Mike was a very special guy and will be sorely missed by all who knew and cared for him.