About a hundred people gathered at the AU Fisheries Pavilion on October 12th to celebrate the career and achievements of Dr. Bill Deutsch. After 26 years of service, Bill now works primarily for his one dozen-plus grandkids (its official – see below).
The evening began with a meet-n-greet. Many old faces and some new faces were milling about. Most were impacted by Bill’s career and long list of impressive achievements. And there was a special group present, the Deutsch Clan – Bill and Janet’s four daughters, their husbands and most of the 13 grandchildren!
After some delicious BBQ provided by The BBQ House, the evening’s program began. Eric Reutebuch, recently-appointed AWW Associate Director began with an extraordinary story of fate/happenstance/serendipity involving a 1970s vintage olive-green stove, the Venezuelan jungle, a dug-out canoe and old-timey cookie-cutters (you’ll have to ask Bill and Jan about the details if you have not heard this wonderful story). The point being, we all encounter major forks in the road on our life journeys, and Thank God that the Deutsches packed up the trusty family station wagon, left a secure job, and traveled to Auburn, AL to start a new life! Eric closed by thanking the AU men of vision that had worked closely with Bill to provide a secure home for Alabama Water Watch in the coming years.
Dr. Sam Folwer followed. He presented the Deutsches with a special gift – rubber bracelets engraved with ‘I LOVE SOCIAL SECURITY!’. Dr. Folwer reiterated his gratitude to Dr. Batchelor, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Dr. Lemme, Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, and the two heads of AU Fisheries, Dr. Rouse (just retired) and Dr. Jensen (just returned from retirement). Dr. Fowler, Director of the AU Water Resources Center, worked with these men to secure a new home for AWW, and Global Water Watch, as components of the AU Water Resources Center in the new CASIC Building at 559 Devall Drive on campus.
Dr. Lemme, ACES Director, followed with brief, yet inspirational insights into the legacy that Dr. Deutsch as created here in Alabama. As Director of the statewide Cooperative Extension System, he said that it’s not statistics and reports that impress him, but programs and activities that impact peoples’ lives that get his attention. And, in his opinion, that’s where Alabama Water Watch has excelled!
Missy Middlebrooks, ADEM Senior Scientist and long-time AWW supporter and collaborator, continued the program by emphasizing that community partnerships were vital to the success of ADEM’s Nonpoint Source Program. And, here again, is where Alabama Water Watch has excelled. She explained how the NPS Program could not fulfill its mission without the commitment and involvement of the hundreds of AWW volunteer monitors actively participating in water monitoring, watershed management and watershed stewardship throughout the state.
Next, Mike Kensler, Alabama Water Watch Association President, followed with inspirational comments of how AWW has been an instrument of empowerment to individuals and communities throughout Alabama. The result – an informed grassroots population of citizen scientist actively involved in managing land and water resources and improving water policy locally and throughout the state.
Then Dr. John Liu, Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture, reminisced back when he first met Bill. He remarked at how it was difficult to believe ‘that young man’ was already retiring! He went on to comment on some of the measures of Bill’s achievements. Although Bill’s resume was not loaded with volumes of scientific research and journal articles, Dr. Liu admitted his amazement at the $8 million-plus in contracts and grants brought in by Dr. Deutsch – very impressive! And even more amazing, he recounted how, during his international travels, Dr. Deutsch and Global Water Watch would inevitably pop up!
Drs. Rouse and Jensen followed, both heads of the Fisheries Department (recently graduating to the School of Fisheries) stepped forward. They jointly presented Dr. Deutsch with two special awards:
- Official certificate of retirement, and,
- Emeritus status in the School of Fisheries.
They pointed out the significance of the latter, Emeritus status, a
certificate signed by AU President Dr. Jay Gouge, since it was the first time that they could recollect that an individual other than a full professor had received such an official honor, AND, just as impressive, the entire Fisheries faculty voted unanimously in favor of this honor for Dr. Deutsch!
International Water Watchers, GWW trainers and long-time friends, Eduardo Aranda-Delgado and Miriam Ramos-Escobedo, representing Global Water Watch-Mexico, voiced their heart-felt ‘thank you-s’ to Bill for being a leader, mentor and friend. Theirs is a true success story. After coming to AU and being trained and certified as AWW/GWW water monitors and then as AWW/GWW trainers in 2006, they embarked on spreading their knowledge throughout their home state of Veracruz. Their message of ‘community-based watershed monitoring’ (elaborated on in a recently-published book by Dr. Deutsch) spread like a wildfire, well beyond Veracruz, through 12 of Mexico’s 31 states, and counting!
Next, the AWW staff, Mona Dominguez, Rita Grub and Sergio Ruiz-Cordova voiced their appreciation of Bill’s 26 years of leadership in building Alabama Water Watch and Global Water Watch, one monitor at a time, and for the positive impacts on water quality, watersheds and people these programs have had throughout Alabama and globally. Most of all, they thanked him for being an outstanding mentor and true friend!
Lastly, the microphone was opened to all. Many colleagues, water watchers, friends, and family stepped forward to express their appreciation for the good works and personal friendships that they’d experienced with Bill. Dick Bronson, founder and long-time President of Lake Watch of Lake Martin, made a special presentation to Global Water Watch, a $250 contribution, in honor of Dr. Deutsch.
The evening was capped off with abundant fellowship, handshakes and hugs! One last message to Dr. Bill Deutsch:
WE APPRECIATE YOU, WE LOVE YOU, AND WE WILL NOT MISS YOU (since we have you on speed-dial).