Founding director and world class fly fisherman and fly tyer Chauncy K. Lively succumbed to complications from pneumonia on February 24, 2000, not 24 hours after another esteemed director, George Alexander, also died. Chauncy was 81.
It is hard to describe a man who has given so vastly, so deeply to the sport of fly fishing—all for the sheer hobby-love that it was, for the man that many fly fishing professionals call the best trout fly tyer ever. Beginning his flyfishing odyssey in the late 1940s, Chauncy first came to the Au Sable region at the invitation of esteemed rod maker Paul Young. Chauncy and Paul had corresponded frequently after Chauncy purchased several rods from the Michigan craftsman. Trips to the Au Sable increased throughout the ’60s and early ’70s. When Chauncy retired as a mortgage officer in 1974, he and his wife Marion purchased property on a bluff overlooking prime lower North Branch water and built their retirement home.
Chauncy wrote frequently about his exploits along the Au Sable for publications such as Pennsylvania Angler, American Fly Tyer and the Angler’s The RIVERWATCH. His prose was informative, lucid and full of rich anecdotes. He was the author of the acclaimed Chauncy Lively’s Flybox, a study of Chauncy’s proven fly patterns that is in its third printing from Stackpole Books. Flyboxhighlights another of Chauncy’s creations: his floating fly macro-photography. Chauncy’s fly patterns were featured in prized collections and museums around the world. In 1992, he graciously volunteered four of his artisinal creations for the Dry Flies plate of the Anglers of the Au Sable Commemorative Fishing Flies of the Au Sable. (This editor knows that Chauncy’s worsening cataracts at the time forced him to tie each of the chosen four patterns very slowly. It took over two weeks to tie the 112 separate flies for the 28 limited plates.)
In his 13-year service to the board of directors, Chauncy was considered the sage of the group and was very knowledgeable on water ecology and aquatic biology. When he wasn’t working on a new fly pattern or reporting for The RIVERWATCH, Chauncy was often consumed with his other passion, classical music. Having been a musician since his teen years, Chauncy earned a living as a musician and arranger in the U.S. Army and for many years in the entertainment, radio and recording industry. His love of the classical composers (“long hairs” he jokingly called them) stemmed from this early exposure to ’20s jazz and Big Band music.
Though it is hard for anyone who didn’t know Chauncy intimately to grasp the forthcoming notion, Chauncy owned a unique ability to marry his passions—his wife, his children, his granddaughter, his music, his rivers, his fishing, his photography, his fly crafting—into a continuum of joy that he gently let rain down upon all who were part of his life. He was a giant of a man who walked in a gentleman’s shoes and who spoke with dignity and grace. Sadly, there are not many like Chauncy Lively left in this world. For all that he was, the Anglers (and this editor especially) shall miss him greatly.
[Read Ed McGlinn’s tribute,
Chauncy King Lively,
in The RIVERWATCH – Issue #34.]
Editor’s Note: We wish to recognize another extraordinary angler, Chauncy’s wife of almost 50 years, the late Marion Lively (1919-1995), for her many years of support to the fly fishing community and for her many enlightening memoirs that appeared under the pen name Effie Merella inThe RIVERWATCH.
[Read Dan Drislane’s tribute,
In Memory of Marion,
in The RIVERWATCH – Issue #21.]