Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Bird Blogging

My old friend and competitor in the canoe business, Darrell Leidigh, has passed away.

An original person in all things, Darrell was an incessant tinkerer, creator, and observer. No one could say it with as much expression as Darrell could when it came to expressing his opinion. His three words, "That Damned Bush!" equalled several pages from other pundits.

Some of us had the pleasure of staying with Darrell and his wife Bettye at their home on Crystal Lake in St. Mary's, Florida, where he introduced us to his other children, the Sandhill Cranes that lived in his "yard".

In 2000 Darrell and Bettye purchased 40 acres of land on Crystal Lake in Lake Mary to protect it from development. They donated the property to the City of Lake Mary to become part of its' natural lands program with deed
restrictions preventing it from ever being developed. The land is now known as the Crystal Lake Preserve. Darrell was especially fond of Florida sandhill cranes and whooping cranes and traveled the world in search of other crane species. Of the 15 species of cranes in the world he was able to see 13 in their native habitat. He missed his goal of seeing them all by 2. In 2004 he demonstrated his great interest in cranes by helping with the design and construction of the Felburn-Leidigh Chick Rearing facility at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo , Wi .

Darrell was a member of National Audubon, Seminole Audubon, Friends of the Wekiva, Nature Conservancy, Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation, Operation Migration, Sierra Club, International Crane Foundation and president of the Crystal Lake Preserve, Inc.

Thanks for all the moments, Darrell.


  1. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Sorry to hear about your friend, our condolences for your loss.

    As you know, we lived in Lake Mary not far from from Crystal Lake. It's a beautiful place. Did not know about the conservation project, but I guess that happened the year we moved back to TN. It will certainly be a great legacy and tribute for what sounds like a pretty great guy.

  2. i hope someone leaves an obit memory of me as caring and loving as this one. i hope i can follow my dream as well as darrell did

  3. Sounds like he was a helluva guy. So sorry for your loss. May we all be as persistent withour dreams as he was.

  4. Thanks, Steve. Darrell Leidigh, founder of Mohawk Canoes-my dad. The passing of my dad has brought a great sorrow to me. The things he taught me can't be bought. His work ethics were of unbelievable greatness. To design, build and sell a product at such a highly affordable price was just the start-always one to try and make something better, efficiency, time and movement seemed to motivate him. I was on the Mohawk payroll at age 13, learning the ropes, not knowing that my future would be canoes-our family business. He was a very intelligent man. He built almost all of the equipment to manufacture canoes and paddles at our factory. Not realizing this until later in life, I thought how different he and I were-but we were a team-needing each other to succeed with Mohawk. He will always be remembered as my dad, mentor and leader. I have many canoes that my dad left to me. I'm going to sell a good portion of them. Anyone interested can email me to forward a list for review. These are brand new, many never will be available again. I'm taking offers on these picked up at the former Longwood, Fl factory. I might deliver to NOC at a future sale there. I have lots of canoe "stuff" also.
    Mark Leidigh

  5. Anonymous2:40 PM

    Darrell was my brother-in-law, however, I felt like he was my brother. I originally met Darrell when I was a teenager. Darrell was in his 30's and I thought he was a wise "old" man. Before making canoes, Darrell was an excellent metal craftsman and crafted oramental iron. When Darrell originally entered the boat manufacturing industry, he made pontoon boats and airboat hulls. I was the first person to ski behind one of Darrell's airboats. What a wild ride that was. Bettye Leidigh was the second person to ski behind the airboat. I believe that was our first and last time to ski behind an airboat. Without Darrell's influence, I would have never had an opportunity to hand feed Sand Hill Cranes or observe the migration of Whooping Cranes. Darrell was a wonderful person and left the world a better place.