People Articles

Articles specific to prominent people in the park’s past, present and future.

Deep roots and a love of fishing: the passing of former Friends Board Member Charles “Chuck” Ludwigsen

Deep roots and a love of fishing: the passing of former Friends Board Member Charles “Chuck” Ludwigsen

For some, the ties to the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior run deep. For Charles “Chuck” Ludwigsen, who passed away peacefully on October 12th, those roots ran as deep as a fishing line. Born in Lombard, IL on April 17, 1937, Chuck traveled widely for both business and pleasure. Yet he never forgot his deep connection to the big lake and the Apostle Islands. His childhood summers were spent working the nets with his grandfather who had immigrated from Norway and became a commercial fisherman in the islands. When not fishing with nets, Chuck could often be found trolling or casting a line...

Friends mourns the passing of sailing pioneer and Island friend George Hansen

Friends mourns the passing of sailing pioneer and Island friend George Hansen

If you have been in Bayfield in the days surrounding the Fourth of July and seen the bay filled with the colorful sails of Bayfield Race Week, you have witnessed at least a part of the legacy of George M. Hansen. Hansen, the founder of Bayfield’s famous Race Week and a long-time supporter and member of Friends of the Apostle Islands passed away in his sleep on October 4th at his home in Medina, Minnesota. Born September 25, 1936, Hansen grew up in Minneapolis, served as a tank commander in the Army, and worked as an accountant for Haskins & Sells as well as the George M. Hansen Company...

New Friends board member helps train Colombian national park rangers

New Friends board member helps train Colombian national park rangers

What do you do when you retire from sharing the stories of our national parks with thousands of park visitors for 40 years? One option is to teach others how to do it well. Newly-elected Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore board member Neil Howk recently joined a small group of retired National Park Service employees sharing their knowledge, experience, and some practical tools for planning and implementing the interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage with their counterparts in the National Natural Park System (PNN) of Colombia.Otún Quimbaya Fauna and Flora...

A Few Quiet Words on Silence

A Few Quiet Words on Silence

Shhh. Just listen a moment. It is early, before the sun has even broken the horizon this soft summer morning. The lake is still, rising and falling as softly as the breath of someone sleeping. The sound of dripping water inside a shoreline cave along the north side of Oak Island, like the gentle pluck of harp strings.  This is morning in the Apostle Islands. This is natural silence.Morning in the Apostle Islands – Jeff Rennicke photoWhen we speak of the value of nature, it is often natural resources we speak of – timber, oil and gas, fisheries, stone from quarries. Even in discussions of...

Change Begins Here: Friends Represented at the Leadership Institute

Change Begins Here: Friends Represented at the Leadership Institute

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world,” Margaret Mead once famously said. “Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” From April 24th to the 27th, our Executive Director Jeff Rennicke joined a small group of thoughtful, concerned leaders from Friends groups across the country at the first in-person gathering of the 2022-23 Leadership Institute in Portland, Oregon. Representatives from Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Virgin Islands, Acadia, Shenendoah, and Cabrillo National Moment were also in attendance.   A program of the National...

Explore the Top 10 Friends website stories of 2021

Explore the Top 10 Friends website stories of 2021

DRUMROLL PLEASE! It has been a big year in the Apostle Islands -- from fun and fanfare to tragedy averted. During this last week of the year,, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is counting down its TOP TEN Island stories of 2021. In sharing these stories, we thank you, our readers and supporters, for your support and we wish you an adventure-filled 2022 in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. 10 HERE WE GO: Weather stories always resonate with Island Lovers, so the #10 most popular story of the year goes to the tall birch trees dancing in the big gale. 9 At #9 on our...

History Mystery: Who is considered the “father of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore?”

History Mystery: Who is considered the “father of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore?”

A Legacy of stewardship.  Gaylord Nelson was born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin on June 4, 1919.  Nelson was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1948 and held that office for a decade before becoming the Governor of the state. After two terms as Governor, he was elected to the US Senate in 1962 where he served until 1981. Gaylord NelsonIn 1969, then US Senator from Wisconsin, Nelson formulated one of the most powerful ideas of the century.  On April 22, 1970 the first Earth Day was a resounding success, celebrated by 20 million people across the US who came together in their communities to...

History Mystery: How did his support for the park cost Julian Nelson a job?

History Mystery: How did his support for the park cost Julian Nelson a job?

Julian Nelson was born in Bayfield in 1916.  His father moved to Bayfield from Bergen, Norway in 1897 and took a job with the Booth fish company.  He eventually became an independent commercial fisherman operating out of a fish camp in Julian Bay on Stockton Island.   His sister watches Julian work on a gill net at his fish camp In 1938, at the age of 22, Julian bought out his father’s fishing business.  Julian bought property on Rocky Island in 1947 and moved his fishing cabin there from Stockton Island on a barge.  Moving the Nelson cabin from Stockton to Rocky Island in 1947 Julian Nelson...

Lakeshore Logbook – Jerry Banta

Lakeshore Logbook – Jerry Banta

The photo of Jerry we printed in the park newspaper when he got the job. As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees. This is the 18th in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees. Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives. Jerry Banta served as Apostle Islands National Lakeshore...

History Mystery: How Gert Wellisch saved Sand Island Lighthouse

History Mystery: How Gert Wellisch saved Sand Island Lighthouse

Gert Wellisch (1896-1966) spent her childhood summers in the Apostle Islands. In 1910 her father Robert Wellisch, a well-to-do manufacturer from St. Paul, joined with three other businessmen to build an imposing, Adirondack-style lodge on the west shore of Sand Island.   The West Bay Club The main room in the West Bay Club Gert by the wood pile at the West Bay Club in 1916 Gert grew up to be a St. Paul schoolteacher, and her small cadre of female city friends became a regular fixture of the Sand Island summer community during the World War I era. Their island adventures, exploring forests,...