Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For February 5th, 2010 Edition.
As we travel the twisting path of life we are destined to cross the routes of numerous others who are making the same voyage through time. Many will eventually be labeled as "friends", which is a word that we often substitute for what are actually only "acquaintances."
True friendship involves a much deeper relationship between individuals than the interaction we experience during routine conversation at work or at formal or informal social functions. True friendship is generally restricted to but a small handful of individuals that can generally be numbered on the fingers of one's hands. Those who can claim actual friends that number in double digits are indeed lucky and blessed, or are misrepresenting the term "friend."
The recent death of one of my true friends inspired me to create a tribute to him, a narrative that covered 13 typewritten pages, which was presented to my friend's widow and three daughters. What follows is a thumbnail version of my heartfelt tribute to Wesley D. Pavalon, a true friend I called Wes.
Our paths first crossed on June 26, 1960. Wes and a business associate were up north on vacation and asked the manager of Ed Gabe's Lost Lake Resort to secure a guide for a four-day fishing trip. My phone rang and Fate intervened when I gladly accepted the booking.
Wes and I quickly became well acquainted, which in turn rapidly developed into true friendship. Over the next 32 years we fished together 159 times, hunted ducks and grouse numerous times and spent many relaxing days simply exploring remote areas of Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's U.P. for small, secluded bass lakes and pristine trout streams.
Unfortunately our annual fishing adventures came to an end in 1992 due to Wes' deteriorating health.
Wesley grew up on the streets of Chicago in a neighborhood he often described as "the wrong side of the tracks." He eventually earned a teaching degree but only worked in public education for a very short time. In 1957 he and a friend rented a small office for a classroom and began teaching adults how to repair radios and TV sets. Their first class numbered 29 students. From this inauspicious start the business grew into 14 schools spread across the US and Canada that housed 29,000 students! The chain of technical schools was known as Career Academy.
Stock in the company was listed on the American Stock Exchange in 1963 at $1.81 per share. Four years later it had split three times and sold for $55.00 per share, something that could only happen in America! Time Magazine honored Wes in the late 1960s, by selecting him as "Young Businessman of the Year."
My friend's list of accomplishments is extensive and varied. In 1967 Wes and a small group of investors received a franchise from the National Basketball Association for an expansion team in Milwaukee, where the headquarters of Wes' expanding empire was located. The "Bucks" began play in 1968 and just four years later the fledging expansion team won the NBA championship! Wes personally signed the Bucks top draft pick, Lew Alcinder (later named Kareem Abdul Jabbar) to a contract and continued to act as the Bucks CEO for almost a decade.
As his business empire expanded so did his list of "toys." A Lear Jet became his rapid means of transportation from Milwaukee to Northern Wisconsin for spur-of-the-moment fishing trips or attending the Bucks away games. I discovered riding in such a vehicle was real fun!
Likewise his 68-foot yacht, the "Mar-Lin-Sue", named after his three daughters, Marcy, Linda and Susan, made a great motel and home base for fishing the waters around Isle Royale in Lake Superior.
The Bell Jet Ranger helicopter he purchased and became licensed to fly allowed trips from his home in the Milwaukee area to his four-season retreat on an 80-acre parcel in St. Germain to be fast and comfortable. This flying machine also made our search for remote fishing locations much easier.
Wes and I frequently fished his private lake in Michigan's UP. And the square mile of property surrounding the lake guaranteed a quiet, relaxing day on the water.
Wes was an avid fisherman. He is credited with landing the largest largemouth bass of the more than 50,000 that have been boated by my clients during the past 59 fishing seasons. The seven pound one ounce monster was but one of many five pound plus bass he and his wife, Patti, subdued.
But Wes' fondest fishing adventures took place from the bow seat of a canoe in quest of native brook trout. For Wes, the peace, quiet and tranquility, coupled with the sights and sounds that only a remote trout stream can deliver, were his mental and physical therapy sessions.
My pal fostered a deep caring for the needs and wants of others who might be less fortunate than he. One of my uncles, Bud Jorgensen, was in desperate need for open-heart surgery to replace or repair a damaged heart valve. The year was 1970 and no heart surgeons were available in this area. Also, Bud had no health insurance or money enough to cover such an expensive operation.
One call to my pal Wes in Milwaukee solved our dilemma. Wes made arrangements for Bud to have his much needed surgery at Milwaukee Lutheran General Hospital by one of the nations leading heart specialists. The Lear Jet picked my uncle up at the Lakeland airport, delivered him to Milwaukee and brought him back to Lakeland again two weeks later after Bud had recovered from a successful heart valve implant! Total cost for transportation, surgery and a long hospital stay to Bud and his family - zero dollars!
In the 1970s the Plum Lake Volunteer Fire Department was attempting to raise enough money for a new fire truck. Wes asked the chief how much they were short of their goal. The amount was $60,000! Wes took out his checkbook and wrote a check for that amount! Problem solved!
On January 23 Peggy, our middle daughter Anna (who worked for Wes for many years) and I attended a memorial service honoring the life of Wesley D. Pavalon. The Milwaukee Athletic Club hosted the event, which was a fitting tribute for someone of Wes' stature.
There were over eighty persons in attendance, most noteworthy being his widow, Patti, Wes' three daughters, son-in-laws, grandchildren and other family members. The atmosphere was upbeat; the way Wes would have wanted it to be. About a dozen different people came forward to relate fond memories of the man everyone came to honor.
Wayne Embry, former player and General Manager of the Bucks spoke. Wes' first business partner spoke. Wes' boyhood friend from Chicago spoke. Wes' youngest daughter, Susie, spoke. Several of the grandchildren spoke. We listened to accolades concerning honesty, hard work, compassion, uniqueness, determination, charity, caring, philanthropy, sense of humor, dedication, empathy, love of family and other highly positive attributes, all of which were true.
I was highly honored to be the first speaker and offered up tales of memorable and humorous situations that occurred while Wes and I were in the presence of Ma Nature. I'm sure my friend would have approved of my selections.
The world needs more individuals like Wesley D. Pavalon.
Thanks for being a big part of my life and rest in peace Wes!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: email@example.com or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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