The best of us died today. Lefty Kreh. My heart is saddened and I will miss him everyday for the rest of my life. Lefty remained the same humble, witty, brilliant man from the first day I met him till his last. His contributions to the sport he loved are endless as he was an unrelenting problem solver and perfectionist. But above all was the man – and what a man. He could and did make everyone around him better. His humor was endless and smiles and laughter followed him like the pied piper. Lefty was the most honorable person I’ve ever met, and I’m so proud to say, my mentor.
Lefty always said, “I failed retirement” and after the death of his beloved wife and partner Ev in 2011, he increased his already staggering workload. Lefty was ever the inventor and devised solutions to even the most mundane problems. Lefty’s mentor, legendary angler and writer Joe Brooks, introduced this hotshot Maryland smallmouth bass fishermen to the art of fly fishing in 1947. Thanks Joe! Since then much of Lefty’s attention centered on fishing where he was one of the sport’s greatest innovators and its primary ambassador. After marrying, Lefty asked Ev to find a house in Maryland with a small yard and big basement. Ev did and they stayed in this house with Lefty using the basement to store his super organized fishing gear, photo shop, knot lab, and the like. At the end of his career, Lefty was fortunate to be able to work with the company and people he loved at TFO where his impact changed fly fishing forever.
Lefty was ever the teacher. I truly loved the hell out of Lefty treating me like a 10-year-old every time we fished together. “Yes Tommy – no Tommy – closer Tommy – set the hook Tommy – keep your rod tip up Tommy - quit standing on your line”. On one trip, Lefty lost all his gear at the Montreal airport. My son Jeff and I outfitted Lefty with rods and reels, that needed reversing, and clothes including underwear. We laughed till we cried and when Lefty would chastise me for my many improper fishing techniques I would threaten to take my underwear back. Every time I think of his death tears well up in my eyes, but I end up smiling and laughing thinking of all the joy he
brought to me personally, my family, and to everyone else his path crossed.
It is impossible to put into words what a wonderful human being Lefty was.