Remembering fisheries advocate and longtime RISAA president, Steve Medeiros.
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) suffered a severe blow on September 13, 2021, when their executive director since their inception 23 years ago, suddenly, and unexpectedly passed away.
Steve Medeiros was an ingenious, quiet, and reserved man who knew how to get things done. I first met him in a loud and smoke filled building some 25 years ago as he walked in holding the hand of a little girl. I instantly believed they were in the wrong location as they stepped around the tables looking for a place to sit on a very crowded night at the West Warwick Fraternal Order of Police building. During that time most fishing presentations were via slide shows and during the long, cold winter months fishermen were desperate for a glimpse of anything fishing related. After the show Steve, and his daughter Audra, sat patiently waiting to speak with me about selecting a family oriented fishing club. That was the first of many conversations with a man with a diverse background.
Over the course of a few years I learned he was a retired Sergeant of the West Warwick police department, owner of a successful family photography business and a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. Steve wanted something different, and from the very start it was obvious that Steve was an organizer, who knew what he was looking for and if that was not available, he not averse to putting in the time and effort to make his vision of a comprehensive family fishing organization, a reality.
He and a select group of friends formally founded the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association which came on the fishing scene in January of 1998 and from those humble beginnings RISAA went on to become one of the most prominent, and successful fishing organizations along the entire Atlantic Coast. Under Medeiros’ hands on leadership, and intuitive ability to delegate, they have grown into an association with thousands of members and a broad coalition of affiliated partners and fishing organizations from up and down the New England Coast and beyond. Steve was a visionary. He knew that I had worked many years for the most successful show promoter in the region, the late George Hawkins. Steve told me that the RISAA was interested in filling the void of a premier saltwater fishing show in the area and I provided him all the information and contacts I was privy to.
Shortly thereafter the organization introduced a very well-attended fishing show, that at its last presentation in 2019, was heralded as the very best in New England. In the meantime the RISAA not only grew in size but in stature, gaining the attention of state and federal agencies, as well as politicians, who have become supportive in attaining their vision as enthusiastic advocates for our precious aquatic resources and the marine environment in which they live. They have increased the status of the recreational fishing community and have worked to foster and improve the condition of all the marine species, both fish and forage, that live in and migrate to the shores of southern New England.
Steve’s untiring work ethic permitted him to produce a 30-plus page association newsletter every month and if you have ever called the RISAA office you spoke with Steve unless he was out on RISAA business. I once asked him how he could put the newsletter together, take all the incoming calls, and there were many, then attend hearings and meetings in the evening, always with that self-assured, welcoming smile on his face. His answer was “I just keep going because I love what I do.”
With a large and dedicated supporting staff, the organization is faced with the formidable task of replacing the man who guided it for 23-years. In his last editorial which appeared in the September issue he said, “Very often we think of ourselves as just a fishing club, but in reality we are so much more, especially when viewed by the public, government and fisheries officials. Time and again we are called upon for our views on all possible topics from fishing regulations to wind farms, to right of ways, etc.”
Since their inception I’ve have had the opportunity to work with Steve and the dedicated RISAA officers and membership on numerous projects and topics, so I am well aware that he left this organization in good hands. I have a message and a request to all our good friends at RISAA, pick up the torch and CARRY ON!