Claude Terry and Jimmy Carter running Bull Sluice rapid on Georgia’s Chattooga River | Photo by Doug Woodward
have given me my life,” Georgia native Claude Terry said in an interview in
2016, as he approached his 80th birthday. As one of the founders of
American Rivers, it’s also true that he gave life to rivers.
Claude passed away
last week, leaving a remarkable legacy.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, Claude and other local citizens successfully fought to protect Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River from polluted runoff, sewage and poorly planned development, culminating in its designation as a National Recreation Area.
“I find myself happiest when the music of rapids is playing.”
– Claude Terry
also made him instrumental in protecting wild rivers such as Georgia’s
Chattooga. He served as actor Jon Voight’s stunt double in the 1972 movie
Deliverance, which was filmed on the Chattooga. He introduced then-governor Jimmy
Carter to the river and helped ensure its eventual designation as a Wild and
Scenic River. Then, using canoes and other equipment purchased from Warner
Brothers following the filming of Deliverance, Claude opened the outfitting company
a need for a national organization dedicated to safeguarding rivers, Claude and
other river enthusiasts founded American Rivers in 1973. They gathered at a
meeting in Denver, and Claude tossed a twenty dollar bill on the table. Years
later, after American Rivers had grown into an organization with a $17-million
dollar annual budget, Claude quipped, “Not a bad return on investment, huh?”
is a river
hero, one of the great champions of the conservation movement,” says American
Rivers President Bob Irvin.
was an inspiration and provided wise advice to me and other American Rivers
staff. He supported American Rivers throughout
our 47 years of existence. In
recognition of his continued service to American Rivers, he was named a
Director Emeritus in 2018,” Irvin said.
can all benefit from Claude’s example of working tirelessly for clean water and
wild places, while also remembering to get out and enjoy the rivers we love.”
1 response to “A champion for rivers: remembering Claude Terry”
Claude was my first cousin but did not have much contacrt with him. Funny thing did happen that involved us in an event: When I was leaving Georgia State University, I was renting my house from a professor. He came around with a newly minted professor, Claude. that was looking for a house. I had not seen Claude in decades and did not have any contact with him, and never saw him again. I heard that he had something to do with the movie, but never checked. I will send a copy to my granddaughter who is studing enviromental science at ohio State University.