On behalf of the WSU Foundation
When we began planning the christening of the new floating classroom to be known as the “Cal Fremling,” I was the first to tease my colleagues about over-planning when I heard they had ordered root beer floats for 500. They got the last laugh. We ran out of root beer and ice cream almost before the boat arrived and reordered twice before the afternoon was over. That’s my way of saying your response to our invitation to the riverside party we hosted on June 6 was awesome.
In fact, your response every step of the way has been above and beyond expectations. When then WSU Vice President Jim Schmidt and Skipperliner owner Jeb Griffith decided the time had come to construct a new boat for use by both the university and the community, you stepped up with your support. You contributed because you knew Cal and admired the way he lived his life. Jeb and his family surely did their part by writing down the cost of the boat to the point of affordability. The rest now is history – a fantastic new educational tool and, we hope, a community asset.
Hundreds of you were on hand — 600 by conservative estimates — as the Cal Fremling pushed up against the dock at the foot of Johnson Street promptly at 3 p.m. And hundreds of you toured the new facility, amazed by the look and feel and the array of technology that will enhance the learning experience.
So many things came together that afternoon in Levee Park that thinking of it today still causes chills to race along my spine. I think Cal would have been amazed by the experience, from the crowd to the moving tribute by his granddaughter Kirsti Hendrickson to the fact that Old Man River had risen up to honor one of the people who knew him best.
I will not forget the day. If you were there, you likely won’t, either. Those of us who saw dreams come true that day on the levee are grateful to all of you who helped to make them happen. We thank you sincerely for all that you did, contributing your time, your talents and your treasures.
It is our hope that the Cal Fremling will bring a greater understanding of the Mississippi River to students of all ages throughout our region. We hope that you will use the boat and enjoy the partnership it represents between the university and our community.