Author Topic: Folks who made a Difference  (Read 923 times)


  • Doug
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Folks who made a Difference
« on: April 12, 2019, 02:53:36 AM »
 "I'm sure that each of us can remember back over the years, to an person who made a difference in our lives and we can say that because of their influence on us then, we have become better individuals today."

I started trapping at 10 years old when one of our "Hall of Fame" founding members
 "Al Worrell", took me under his wing and showed me the love of trapping that I still hold today.
He went on to train both myself and close to a third of all the Trappers in Washington State that signed up for the "Trapper Training Classes" (offered by The Washington State Trappers Association), sharing with us those things his Dad had taught him growing up.

When I was 21 years old, my Dad suddenly passed away, so I moved back home to be with my Mom. 
Living again in the old neighborhood where I had grown up, I was privileged to once again share a Trapline with my good friend and neighbor, Al Worrell.
At the end of the season we took our furs down to The Seattle Fur Exchange to sell them at Auction. Thanks to Al putting in a good word for me I started a new career working that same day for the Old Auction House.
 Introduced to a man I would grow to admire as being a honest, hard working person who loved both the Outdoors and the Trappers and Fur Ranchers that he served. He was someone who, when he shook your hand and looked you in the eye, you knew you could take him at his Boss,
 The Director of The Seattle Fur Exchange....... Mr. Michael Dederer.
Dederer, Michael (1905-1995)   (Excerpts from
Essay 7205   By Frank Chesley   Posted 1/12/2005
Michael Dederer -- “Mike” to his closest friends -- devoted his life to the Seattle Fur Exchange, building it into one of the foremost fur auctions in the country and an international presence in the industry.
He worked briefly in a tannery and joined the Seattle Fur Exchange in 1923 as a janitor.
The precursor of the Seattle Fur Exchange was an auction organized in 1898 by fur trader Walter Flynn. This was the nation’s first raw fur auction.
 In 1923, under the aegis of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, his operation was reconstituted as the Seattle Fur Exchange.
Michael Dederer saw a future in fur and as he worked his way up the organizational ladder he also invested his savings in the company. He was named treasurer and general manager in 1936, and became president in 1939. According to Fur Exchange historian Robert Spector, “For the next 34 years, Mike Dederer was the Seattle Fur Exchange” (Spector, 26).
The Great Depression devastated the fur market, because “middle-class families, the backbone of the American fur-buying market, since 1929 had been squeezed out ...” (The Seattle Times).  Michael worked diligently to upgrade and streamline the trade and improve the quality of hides, both wild and farm-raised. Pamphlets and other visual aids were distributed and he traveled extensively to promote his cause, visiting trappers, farmers, manufacturers, and retailers. “He was one of the first fur men to cover the then-Territory of Alaska by airplane” (Spector). Among the pelts Seattle Fur Exchange handled were beaver, muskrat, otter, lynx, ermine, weasel, marten, mink, and fox.
Fur farming began in the 1920s, primarily mink, but the quality of fur was poor. Michael organized seminars that included veterinarians and geneticists to help improve quality. By the 1960s, farmers were able to raise mink in 40 colors.
The Seattle Fur Exchange became one of the major players in the world fur market, competing with the New York and Hudson’s Bay auctions.
The industry prospered in the postwar years, but troubles arose in the 1970s. A global depression hit the mink industry that year and about half of United States mink farmers went out of business. The upwelling of environmental concerns in the 1960s -- along with protests for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam -- affected the fur industry. Critics believed that wild-animal traps were inhumane and that fur farming -- raising animals for their pelts -- was criminal. Michael retired as Fur Exchange president in 1975, but remained a director. He was “one of the best-known animal fur judges in the country” and “a master auctioneer” (Spector).
Fur rancher Archie Gardner said, “Mike had charisma ... a joy to be around. He was a tough businessman. He was straight as string” (Spector).
After World War I, $4 million worth of furs passed through Seattle annually. When Michael Dederer retired for good in 1986, it was $40 million. Today, the fur trade is global, with Russia and China the primary markets. The United States accounts for less than a third of international fur sales and the Pacific Northwest represents less than 2 percent of the market.
Mike Dederer relished the Pacific Northwest outdoor lifestyle -- fly fishing, backpacking, golfing, skiing and hiking with a 65-pound pack for miles, (it was routine for him.)
Though he traveled the world for the Fur Exchange and served in leadership positions for many state and national industry associations, Michael Dederer also devoted uncommon energies to public service. He served as president of the Board of Regents of Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and headed the WSU Foundation. He volunteered for and chaired the Century 21 Corporation, which organized and ran the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair; served at various times as president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Community Chest and United Good Neighbor Fund (now The United Way), YMCA, Rotary Club of Seattle, Seattle Foundation, Seattle Goodwill, and the Rainier Club. He was president of the vestry, Queen Anne Lutheran Church.
His honors include the National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood Award; Junior Chamber of Commerce Boss of the Year Award, and Rotarian of the Year. The Dederer Family Conference Center at the YMCA’s Camp Orkila on Orcas Island is named in his honor. He also served on the boards of the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pacific Science Center Foundation, Washington Children’s Home Society, Boy Scouts of America, and World Affairs Council. He was president of the Seattle-King County Historical Society and a member of its board for 20 years.
Michael Dederer wore the kind of shoes that were not easily filled, leaving a void that is still felt by many of us in the Fur Industry today........Doug
« Last Edit: April 24, 2019, 10:15:39 AM by AL WORRELLS KID »
The Old Fisherman lied so much he had to get the kids to call the dog!

Offline JKEEN33

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Re: Folks who made a Difference
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 07:39:08 AM »
Seeing the “Seattle fur Exchange” sure brought back memories. I worked there in high school sorting and stringing fur in the evening.

Offline cedarriver

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Re: Folks who made a Difference
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2019, 08:35:21 AM »
 Thanks for the reminder. Hopefully we can all pay it forward in our daily lives.
We give your trophy that final compliment!

Offline dscubame

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Re: Folks who made a Difference
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 09:14:09 PM »
Pay what forward?
It's a TIKKA thing..., you may not understand.

Eyes in the Woods.   ' '


  • Doug
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Re: Folks who made a Difference
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2019, 04:59:22 PM »
"I will take the support I have been given throughout my life by other Trappers, Hunters and Fisherman and try to pay it forward whenever I can, especially to the younger Folks, experiencing the same problems I struggled with as I was growing up.   ;)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 03:10:32 PM by AL WORRELLS KID »
The Old Fisherman lied so much he had to get the kids to call the dog!


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