CCA Mourns Passing of Walter Fondren

Visionary conservationist helped change the way marine resources are managed

Posted on February 01, 2010

HOUSTON, TX – The conservation community lost one of its true visionaries with the passing of Coastal Conservation Association founder Walter W. Fondren III last week in Houston. A passionate conservationist, avid hunter and skilled fisherman, Fondren was a driving force in the grassroots movement to save red drum and speckled trout populations along the Texas coast in the late 1970s, and was one of the first to fully grasp the potential of anglers as stewards of marine resources with the creation of the Gulf Coast Conservation Association (now CCA).

“Walter was one of those unique individuals who saw the whole chessboard,” said Venable Proctor, chairman of CCA. “When he saw a problem with fisheries on the Texas coast, he helped build a national organization to safeguard those resources for generations to come. He grew up hunting and fishing, and fully understood that it is the responsibility of all who enjoy such privileges to leave things better than they found them. He lived his entire life by that principle and infused it into every aspect of CCA.”

As chairman of CCA, he helped guide the organization’s growth into a national presence with 17 state chapters and almost 100,000 members on all three coasts. He served on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council as a member from 1982 through 1992; was Council Chairman from 1989 to 1990; and also served on the Billfish Advisory Committee since 1994. He received the Harvey Weil Sportsman/Conservationist Award in 2000 and the prestigious Charles H. Lyles Award in 2001 from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional contributions on behalf of marine resources.

“Walter was the right man at the right time to organize anglers to fight for conservation,” said Bob Hayes, CCA’s long-time general counsel. “He really helped shape the ethic of responsibility and stewardship in recreational angling at a time when everyone knew there were problems, but no one was sure how to attack them. Walter brought together a diverse group of individuals in a common cause, without a care for recognition as long as the job was done. We have lost one of the true leaders of saltwater angling, and a great friend, too.”

Fondren was inducted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame in 2004 and served as an IGFA trustee for many years. In 2005, he was named one of the 50 legends of fishing by Field & Stream magazine and he was the first recipient of the CCA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

“He was a remarkable person, as comfortable meeting the President of the United States as he was sight-casting to redfish with his grandkids,” said Patrick Murray, president of CCA. “From every local chapter committee to the national board of directors, we will ensure that his remarkable legacy lives on.”

Click here for the obituary that appeared in the Houston Chronicle.
CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. For more information visit the CCA Newsroom at
CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH