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Sharon Grace

Attorney, Orca Activist

Sharon is a long-time Southern Resident Killer Whale and Snake River wild salmon advocate, orca poop scooper (for research), and attorney, trying to influence those in power to breach the four lower Snake River dams to prevent orca and wild Snake River salmon extinction.

Jan Hare

Retired Professor of Human Development/Gerontology

Jan has been an orca enthusiast (primarily the Southern Residents) for several decades. She completed a Ph.D. at Oregon State University and was on faculty at University of Wisconsin-Stout until her retirement. She lives in Vermont and spends some time on San Juan Island every year. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren (who also are knowledgeable orca enthusiasts), writing, kayaking, hiking with her dog, and gardening.

Kriss Kevorkian

Cetacean/Ocean/Nature Rights advocate

Lifelong whale lover, Kriss met the Southern Resident Orcas in 2001 when she researched how scientists were coping with their decline for her dissertation on environmental grief. In 2016, she founded Legal Rights for the Salish Sea in order to educate decision makers to recognize the inherent rights of the SROs. Kriss provides support to clients through all forms of grief, and those facing the end of life through her organization, A Dying World.

Dave Nimmer

Former Managing Editor for The Minneapolis Star, Asst News Director at WCCO TV, Professor Emeritus at The University of St Thomas and Volunteer

Dave Nimmer was born and raised in Fond du Lac, Wis., graduated from the University of Wisconsin and moved to Minnesota in 1963. He is a former reporter and managing editor for The Minneapolis Star, a reporter and assistant news director at WCCO Television and a professor emeritus at The University of St. Thomas, where he taught journalism for 11 years.

Now retired, Nimmer is active as a volunteer with the Visitation Monastery of North Minneapolis and the North4 program of Emerge, a non-profit involved in workforce training and community development in Minneapolis.

In his spare time, he hikes and fishes and does yard work for his friend and partner at her home in Hudson, Wis. He lives in Echo Ridge, a seniors’ apartment complex in Oakdale, Minn. Among the items he carries around are an AARP card, a fishing license and a lifetime pass to America’s national parks.

Rick Rupp

Retired Business Owner, Land Trust Advisor

25 years land trust advisor, conservationist, river advocate, fly fisherman. Ardent supporter of Orcas/Salmon and a free flowing lower Snake River. Owner of a ranch on the Lower Snake River for several years.

Betsey Thoennes

Photographer, Sculler & Activist

Betsey's background as a developer, project manager and technology integration consultant lends itself well to her environmental advocacy and activism passions. She provides web & social media support for several marine ecology groups. She is a wildlife photographer, a rower (sculling), kayaker and enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible.

Anile Woods

Professional Gardener, permaculture designer, advocate for all cetaceans

Anile is a recent newcomer to the PNW. She comes from a background of social justice in the areas of food, nutrition and health for underserved human communities. She was moved by Tokitaes death to apply those same principles to Orcas, so that Tokis family can survive.


Rod Sando

May 30, 1941 - July 19, 2023

David Nimmer, Don Shelby, Rod Sando

In his 82-year life, former Minnesota DNR Commissioner Rod Sando developed the mind of a research scientist.  The eye of a bird hunter.  The soul of a nature lover.   And the heart of a youthful smoke jumper (which he was for a fire season out West.)

He was a complicated and colorful man, whose critics complained he was hard-headed.   I just thought he was damned smart and, well, confident.    The facts are Sando served the Minnesota  Department of Natural Resources  as its director of forestry and bureau of lands.  He became the DNR commissioner from 1991 to 1999. His imprint was trying to distribute resources according to eco systems rather than political boundaries and negotiating a settlement with the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewas over the harvest of walleyes. The legislature rejected the settlement which, in effect, was later validated by the courts.


Rod left Minnesota in 2000 to Boise, Idaho, as the director of the state’s Department of Fish and Game, and a couple of years later moved to Oregon as executive  director of The Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Authority. 


He brought with him his devotion to the science of fish management, his idea that nature is a legacy and his disdain for quick fixes and political shenanigans.  Common sense and a good heart led him to join DamTruth in the battle to remove the four dams on the lower Snake River.


It was on the Rogue in southern Oregon that my friend Don Shelby and I joined Sando a few years ago. We had no business cards, adoring fans or followers – just three old guys with a yen to fish, look, walk and talk.   


Officially, we went salmon fishing off the mouth of the Rogue River in southern Oregon. Unofficially,  Sando and Shelby launched a three-day, two-man symposium on climate change.  They discussed melting glaciers, rising oceans, raging wildfires, and alarming indifference; they brought facts, figures, studies and even talked of a “null hypothesis.”   


But for me, the real nugget of that trip was on our way back to Portland when we found an old fishing lodge along the Rogue where we could have lunch.   I recalled it with a short story from my book, The Home Stretch:


The waitress who served us lunch – cold fried chicken, hot biscuits, cole slaw and lemonade –spotted a tattoo on Shelby’s wrist.  An Army insignia? she asked.  No, he said, my wife’s name, but I was in the Air Force.  She said her son had been in the Marine Corps, serving two tours in Iraq as a chopper mechanic.  She was obviously proud of his service and subsequent college education.


But he came back changed, she said, and estranged from her.  She’d never seen her two grandchildren.  She started to cry as she recalled that, in her family tradition, the children always came to see the parents.  She apologized for the tears and we told her it was O.K.  We were no strangers to pain.


Sando gently told her perhaps she ought to initiate the visit.  Shelby allowed as how he thought she wasn’t part of the problem but could be part of the solution.  I gave her a hug.   We paid the bill, left a tip and, on the way out, Shelby left another twenty with the lodge owner to give to our waitress.


He said to tell her this was a down payment on a plane ticket to see her son.  She’d be happy to, she said, and then we asked her to take a picture of the three of us in front of her lodge. 


For 15 minutes as we rolled along the Rogue in the afternoon sun, we did not speak.  It was clear that what we paid for, and what we got, was a helluva lot more than lunch. 


Following Sando’s death, I got that feeling again. 


Editor’s Note:  Nimmer is a retired reporter living in St. Paul, Minn.

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