Longtime Dunkirk Outdoors Writer will be sorely missed…
By Rich Davenport, published April 4, 2022
The WNY Outdoors community lost another giant last week, when longtime Dunkirk Observer Outdoors Writer and Columnist Eugene “Gene” Pauszek crossed the rainbow bridge early on Friday, April 1, 2022, at home, while surrounded by family. He was 70 years old.
Gene spent decades reporting on the goings on in the Great Outdoors for the Dunkirk Observer, bringing his bi-weekly column, “The Sportsman’s Journal”, to his many avid readers, keeping the Chautauqua County sporting community abreast of everything happening, be it major tournament coverage, to wounded warrior events, to simple joys shared between father and son, most hunters and fishermen at some point read his column and smiled at the folksy, down to earth way he would tell the important stories of the day.
I first met Gene in 2004 during an outdoors writer conference in Dunkirk. He spent the time to introduce me to the different movers and shakers in Chautauqua County, both at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, where he was a longtime active member, to the Chautauqua County Federation of Sportsmen, where I met the late Harry Probst, and discussed ways to help enhance outdoors communications through the emerging and affordable internet technologies of the day.
What struck me most about Gene was his enthusiasm in reporting the outdoor news of the day, while tirelessly working behind the scenes as a club delegate to the County Federation and representative to the New York State Conservation Council, yet never claiming any part in the projects he helped make reality, such as the Harry Probst Memorial Fishing Platform, the establishment of the Veterans Fishing events and the Take-A-Kid Fishing program that has drawn hundreds of Dunkirk and Chautauqua County youths to the sport of angling over the years this program has been in play.
An avid angler and waterfowl hunter, Gene had a way of telling a story that sparked the imagination, picturing the words in your mind, and feeling like you were hearing the story from your best friend. He would sometimes provide back stories to help readers better relate, and would use humor in describing the friendly competition between charter captains, with stories of stealth missions to load a rival’s boat up with hidden bananas to bring them bad luck on the water.
His contributions to the outdoors heritage extended far beyond the written word. Gene would travel with his good friend, Zenon Olow, representing Chautauqua County to the WNY Environmental Federation, and his observations and reports helped not only keep the rest of the counties in Region 9 abreast to what Chautauqua was doing, but also served to inspire his peers to embrace programs not thought of until shared with his usual humble reports.
The last time I saw Gene was at the Sunset Bay Walleye Shootout last July (2021) during the Big Fish Friday weigh in. It had been quite a while since I had seen him, and at that time it was clear his health was his greatest challenge, yet I knew the smile, and that familiar camera slung round his neck, and we had a very good conversation about fishing, his struggles with health issues which caused his absence at the meetings, to which he strangely apologized for, and his happiness in getting back into the outdoors writing game, even though he was moving a little slower – he was of the mind that he had turned the corner.
Gene continued writing up until the end, sharing the sports and traditions he loved most, and always reminding his readers to include the younger generation and teach them well, as they are the future of healthy wildlife and fisheries for years to come.
The WNY sporting community has lost a true giant, yet we are incredibly grateful to have had you for so long, Gene. You have left a big void, and large footsteps to follow in. Until we meet again, my friend. God Bless, and farewell.