In Memoriam

James Lansche, M.D.  

James Lansche, M.D., notable HFF founder, passed away at his home on November 2, 2008. His family was at his side. He was 78 years old. He was a pioneer in the Idaho medical and surgical community, and was devoted to the Henry’s Fork and the Foundation.

Jim will be remembered for his gentle style and soft-spoken, clear manner. Always a true gentleman, he welcomed all with his warm smile. Jim was kindhearted, he loved and appreciated his family, friends, patients, and all living things. He was a brilliant man who loved to learn, and was always open to ideas and new adventures.

One of those new adventures is nearly 25 years old now: the Henry’s Fork Foundation. Jim and his wife Joan are truly the father and mother of the HFF. Born out of necessity, the Foundation’s roots were set down in the living room and kitchen of Jim and Joan Lansche’s cabin in Pinehaven in 1984. For over ten years they hosted meetings, dinners and brainstorming sessions that were our beginnings: incorporation, siltation, cattle grazing and fencing, stop the dams, catch and release, habitat improvement. Many successes were celebrated and occasional failures were analyzed at the Lansche cabin.

Jim continued his contribution to the Henry’s Fork Foundation in 1992. The Foundation had accomplished much, but was faced with a crisis and a crossroad. To continue effectively, the HFF needed full time staff and funding. A few HFF members considered disbanding the Foundation, as we had fulfilled much of the early mission. Jim volunteered and served as the new Board Chairman and would not let the Foundation die. He and his strong board forged ahead with hiring our first executive director, rewriting bylaws, and placing the Foundation on a solid financial course. He realized the need for a strong advocate voice for the river, independent of bureaucracy and agencies, that would continue far into the future. His devotion, vision and contributions to the Henry’s Fork and the Foundation were truly amazing, and could not have been done without his devoted companion, his wife Joan.

Pocatello ’s first neurosurgeon, Jim was known as a gifted and talented physician who embodied the highest ideals of the medical profession. He possessed a profound ability to empathize with his patients, and was deeply dedicated in his care and service to others.

Jim relocated his family from northern California to Pocatello in 1972. Committed to the community and to the medical profession, he was a leader who served numerous civic and professional organizations, including as Chief of Staff at Bannock Regional Medical Center, President of the Southeast Idaho District Medical Society, a member of the Idaho Board of Medicine and the State Board of Medical Discipline, the Rotary Club, and the Society of Masons.

Jim graduated from Washington University Medical School in St. Louis at the age of 21, and completed an internship in internal medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He then completed a research fellowship at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis followed by his residency in neurosurgery at the University of California in San Francisco where he met his wife, Joan Mell.

He was a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force from 1953-1955, and served tours of duty in Korea, Japan, and India.

Jim retired from neurosurgery in 1992, and continued to enjoy an Idaho lifestyle, spending much of the year at his beloved cabin on the Henry’s Fork with family and friends. He had a never-ending passion for learning, and his hobbies included astronomy, geology, history, woodworking, art, and painting outdoor landscapes.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joan Mell Lansche; his son, James McLaren Lansche II (Jake), Jake’s wife Barbara; son Robert, and daughter McLaren of Bellevue, Washington; and his son Charles Mell Lansche (Charlie), Charlie’s wife Coni, daughter Carly and son James Charles (JC) of Park City, Utah.

Donations in his honor can be made to the Henry’s Fork Foundation.

Submitted by Dr. M.R. Mickelson

Len Morris  

Len Morris was a member of “the greatest generation” and exhibited its most noble characteristics. After serving as a navy tail gunner in the Pacific theater of the Second World War, he returned home to finish his education at the University of Utah and marry his sweetheart, Afton. He spent his career as an educator in the public school systems of southern California.

The powerful values learned in his youth formed the foundation of his character. He treated all with whom he interacted with dignity. To Len, all souls were of infinite worth. He devoted his career and himself to the coming generation, sensing the responsibility that will someday be theirs. Children especially loved him.

Len was my wife’s uncle and I came to know him as a member of her large extended family. I was drawn to him at first through the kinship that fly fishermen seem to share. Len was retired by then and spent summers in the area around Henry’s Lake. A modest trailer was home to Len and Afton during those wonderful summers. Making the trip to Island Park each summer with one or more of my children to visit “uncle Len and aunt Afton” became an annual treat.

There was “something” there. Perhaps for my children, who had lost both grandfathers, it was a chance to have a grandpa. Our arrival at their campsite was always greeted with a list of things that Len had been waiting to share with my children – not collectively, for Len had things to tell, show, and ask each child as though he had been anxiously awaiting their arrival. When my children began to call Len “grandpa”, I corrected them, but Len insisted that it was the best compliment he could receive and so it stood.

Perhaps for me, that “something” was a chance to spend time with two people who deeply cared for each other and together nurtured a sense of adventure well into old age. I sensed that these were remarkable people.

Of course, the fishing was always great. Not because we always caught fish. Len would take the kids in his boat on Henry’s Lake or Lake Hebgen and he would usually have just the right spot, fly and trolling technique and delight in the fish caught by my children. In fact, it was surprising how many fish my children caught just after Len asked them to hold his rod. While he may have retired from teaching, he never tired of teaching.

Len and I would usually find time to get to a spot on the river where just the two of us could do some serious fishing. He loved the take of the dry fly best, but aside from that, I noticed that our styles were different. I like to “work” a river. Perhaps it was his age, but he took a more contemplative approach. I would often come upon him just sitting on the riverbank looking at the water and banks of the river. Later, when his health would not allow him to wade, I would bring my drift boat for our river fishing. He would “waste” long stretches of water as he just sat in the bow and enjoyed the ride. Some day I think I will understand that we “wasted” no water.

In that way in which our memories associate places, people, sights and sounds together, I think I will always be able to hear Len’s voice, see his smile and feel his spirit whenever I find myself in Island Park. Uncle Len, Island Park and fishing will always belong in that sweet shoebox of memories carried by me and by my children.

Tribute courtesy of Steve Knight

William Dodd Geiger, II  

William Dodd Geiger, II was born on September 29, 1919, and passed away on February 8, 2006. Bill was 86 years old. He left behind a devoted family -- his wife of 57 years, Betsy; his children, Dodd, Devon & Debra; his daughter-in-law Beth and son-in-law Eliot; and six adoring grandchildren. He also left behind a "family" of friends, guides, and business associates who greatly loved and cherished his innate goodness, sparkle, and witty sense of humor.

Bill flew a "Spitfire" in the all-American Eagle Squadron for England's' RAF during W.W.II. He was shot down over the English Channel in 1941, and spent the remaining war years digging escape tunnels in a German POW camp.

Bill Geiger was an adventurer and outdoor enthusiast who shared his expertise in skiing and fly fishing with family and friends. He had four great passions in his life: flying airplanes, skiing, his family, and fly fishing. In the second half of his life, fly fishing was without a doubt his greatest love. He and his wife Betsy lived in Pasadena, California all their lives, but built a vacation log-home in Big Sky, Montana. From there, they fished all the best trout streams of the West: the Madison, The Yellowstone, Henry's Fork, The Big Hole, and many more. Bill was a longtime member of the Flat Rock Club and a longtime supporter of the Henry's Fork Foundation.

Bill was a dry fly purist, only fishing "the dry", sometimes to his guides' chagrin. But the motion of the caste was enough to make his day exceptional. His casting motion was like a perfectly choreographed ballet, and even his fishing guides were impressed with the ease, grace, and accuracy of it. Bill could put the fly anywhere, under any conditions. Bill Geiger caught his share of wonderful trout over the nearly forty years he fished, but his greatest joy about fly fishing was just being out there on the stream, casting out his line, and watching one of his family members, or a friend, learn to love what he loved. Bill had many devoted and wonderful fishing guides who took him out in their boats year after year, and listened with awe to the amazing stories of his life. Most of these guides work for Mike Lawson's "Henry's Fork Outfitters". Bill was more than appreciative of their guiding services and their meaningful friendships.

Bill Geiger will always be remembered for his devotion to, and love for, the sport of fly fishing. He brought passion, humor, patience, and joy to the sport he loved so much.

Kai Grant Edwin Anderson

Kai Grant Edwin Anderson was born in Moline, Illinois on February 18, 1944 and passed away on Sept. 30, 2009. He graduated from the University of Illinois where he was co-captain of the football team.

Although he was drafted and signed with the Miami Dolphins, he felt that his future was in his home state. He married Dianne Gardner in 1968. After a successful start in the banking business in Chicago, Kai took a job with California Casualty Management Company as a District Sales Manager in San Diego.

After the birth of their daughter Kari, they moved to Northern California where Kai joined the home office as Manager of the Business Insurance Division. Kai was elected President and CEO in 2004. He retired in 2007.

Kai loved being outdoors, whether working in the yard with the dogs, fly fishing in Wyoming, or driving through beautiful country. He was a thoughtful father and husband, rarely missing one of Karl's sporting events and accompanying Dianne to marathons near and far.

He is survived by his wife Dianne; daughter Kari; brother Clark; sisters-in-law Mary Anderson and Gay Wane; brother-in-law Don Gardner; mother-in-law Mary Berg; two nieces and one nephew.

Donations in Kai's name can be made to the I FUND at the University of Illinois by contacting: c-tuttIe@illinois.edu, Henry's Fork Foundation at www.henrysfork.org, and The Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center at www.abssdn.org. All are tax deductible.

Reprint from a newspaper obituary