Wilderness Legend Dies
When Rom was a month old, his father died as the result of a mining accident.
As a youth, he gathered blueberries to sell, and he hunted and fished to help put food on the table at the family home. The family garden grew on the future site of Canoe Country Ou
He refined his knowledge and love of the wilderness as a student of author and environmentalist Sigurd Olson at
His daughter, Becky Rom of
By 1941, he was a Navy officer serving in the war effort in the Pacific theater. He was part of the invasion force on
A decade earlier, Argosy Magazine had dubbed him the Canoe King of Ely.
Proescholdt said Rom sometimes paid a steep price for his dedication. During the debate over flight restrictions, an explosive was set off near his home. Over the years, Rom hosted meetings in his home, used his own plane to patrol for illegal activities and wrote letters pushing for wilderness protection. In 1974, he testified in
Town turns its back on him. In Ely, he was considered a traitor to an area with a poor economy, his daughter said. "He felt the wilderness was the best economy for Ely, because it was forever," she said. In 1975, protesters blocked the entrance to his business with logging trucks during the important fishing opener and Memorial Day weekend. The picket signs read, "Run the Bum Rom Out of Town," Becky Rom said. He sold his successful business later that year. "He never looked back, and he was never bitter," his daughter said.
The day he died, he wrote a letter to the Forest Service suggesting how it could get the bottles and cans out of the lakes that accumulated there before he got the ban in place.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara; three sons, Bill of Rye, N.Y., Larry of Ely and Roger of Anchorage, Alaska; a sister, Dorothy Boal of
A memorial celebration is planned for Aug. 6 near Ely.