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Riverkeepers, Clearwater Leaders Remember Friend Pete Seeger

Singer/songwriter and Hudson River conservationist Pete Seeger.
Singer/songwriter and Hudson River conservationist Pete Seeger. Photo Credit: Econosmith.com

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A true friend of the Hudson River and its valley where he lived for 70 years, legendary folk singer/songwriter and political and social activist Pete Seeger is being remembered for his many contributions to his nation after passing away at age 94.

Seeger and his wife Toshi, who died in July 2013, founded Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. , and the Great Hudson River Revival, the annual music and environmental festival that takes place at Croton Point Park in Croton. The Seegers lived in Beacon for 40 years.

The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Beacon-based environmental group that shares its name with its sailing vessel, took a leading role in passage of the Clean Water Act, the fight to make General Electric Co. remove PCBs from the river mud and a number of other key chapters in the Hudson’s history.

Clearwater Communications Director Julia Church said "Pete", as he was fondly referred to by friends and associates, "planted the seed that started Hudson River SloopClearwater with the belief that a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it."

"The sloop Clearwater has become recognized for its role in the environmental movement," Church wrote. "And thanks to Pete Seeger, the over 12,000 school kids who sail each year will never see the river in the same way that they did before their voyage. Perhaps more importantly, they will be moved to protect the river every time they look at it."

Leaders of the river’s other influential organizations — the state’s Hudson River Estuary Program, Ossining-based Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson — got their start on board the Clearwater.

Riverkeeper's President Paul Gallay said the conservation organization is pledged to "carry on his work and make the most of the gifts he left us."

"Pete Seeger was unique in that he was a musical genius, a courageous in his beliefs and generous man with a heart as bid as anyone's," Gallay said. "Pete will go on inspiring those who endeavor to heal us humans and our one lonely planet, long after we say our final goodbyes to the man himself."

Clearwater's Facebook page filled with tributes to Seeger Tuesday.

"We all need to come together and put into practice what he taught us," Lauren Riggs Taft said.