Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Outdoors community loses conservationist Washington

By Bill
Parker

Editor

Lansing – Michigan’s outdoors community lost a staunch supporter
on Oct. 9 when Sam Washington passed away.

Washington, the immediate past executive director of the
Michigan United Conservation Clubs, passed away at his home in West
Bloomfield. He was 60 years old.

‘It’s a big loss for conservation,’ said Tony Hansen, MUCC’s
public relations manager. ‘He was the guy that retired, but didn’t
go away. He wasn’t as involved (in day-to-day operations at MUCC)
as he was before he retired, but he was still around. He was a
living resource and someone you could always go to with
questions.’

Washington hired Hansen last year as the group’s PR manager and
the editor of its magazine, Michigan Out-of-Doors.

‘Unlike any other bosses I’ve had, Sam was more of a friend,’
Hansen said. ‘You only have so many people come along that are
really special and Sam was one of them. He truly cared about MUCC
and what we’re doing.’

Washington took the top spot at MUCC in December of 2002 and
held the post until he retired on Feb. 16 of this year. He retired
from a teaching position in the Bloomfield Hills School District to
take the top job at MUCC. His brother Tom, was the executive
director of MUCC for 13 years during the late 1980s and early
1990s.

‘His brother Tom was a giant with MUCC, the NRA, the
Legislature. Everyone knew him,’ Hansen said. ‘How do you come into
an organization with a brother who casts that kind of shadow? He
did it anyway. Not many people could endure that kind of scrutiny,
but he did it because he loved the outdoors and he loved MUCC.’

Washington was elected to MUCC’s board of directors in 1997 and
served as its interim executive director in 1998. He remained on
MUCC’s board of directors until he took over as interim executive
director in December of 2002, then executive director in 2003. He
also hosted a Sunday evening outdoors radio show on WJR in Detroit
before taking over at MUCC.

After retiring from MUCC, Washington retained his positions on
the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board and the State Parks Advisory
Board. He stepped down from the Forest Advisory Board, the Oil and
Gas Advisory Board, and the DEQ Advisory Board.

‘It’s a tremendous loss for the conservation community,’ said
Becky Humphries, the DNR director. ‘Sam was one of those
individuals that felt so strongly about conservation and the
history of it and where we were headed, and he had a delightful
manner of expressing it. He wasn’t a pound-the-table kind of guy.
He was an individual who spoke from the heart a lot, and he pulled
people together because of that passion. We’re going to miss him
greatly.’

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