During this year’s False Albacore Festival in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, North Carolina Regional coordinator, Tom Carpenter presented John Mauser with the region’s Bass/Laney Memorial Award for his long standing commitment to Project Healing Waters and service to the veterans of North Carolina and from across the country.
In 2016, it was determined that the NC Region of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing needed to establish a high-level award to recognize the Contributions of Volunteers here in North Carolina. Eventually we established a general criteria and the objective of this became: To Recognize an individual committed to improving the lives of disabled veterans and that through their actions and attitude has inspired those individuals to improve themselves, their fellow soldiers and the communities in which they live and serve.
The original name of the award was to be the Larry Laney Memorial Award after Western NC native and one of the early Asheville PHWFF participants. Larry suffered from debilitating arthritis and a degenerative bone condition related to his military service. To see him you would have wondered how he even moved at all, that is until you placed a fly rod in his hand. What emerged, besides and infectious smile was one of the most natural and fluid casting strokes you had ever seen. He was truly a testament to the healing that could occur at the end of a fly rod and an inspiration to everyone that met him.
The recipient of the inaugural award was never in question and in 2017 John Bass was pick for the honor. Unfortunately, only weeks before the presentation we lost John. For most of us, John was 10-foot-tall despite the fact he had been confined to that wheelchair for over most of his life. He was the patriarch of PHWFF here in NC and perhaps the most impactful volunteer that the organization had anywhere in the country. I don’t think anyone before or since has been responsible for recruiting more participants to PHWFF than John was. He believed if he could do it you sure didn’t have an excuse not to. It was only fitting that we changed the Awards name to be the Bass/Laney Memorial Award.
Mauser began serving PHWFF as program lead for the Crystal Coast program in Swansboro, North Carolina. Later, John along with Chris Thompson, John Snipes, and others revived the False Albacore Festival, as a tournament fundraiser for Project Healing Waters. This event also includes a day of fishing and a dinner for PHWFF participants. John was the face of this outing for many years, recruiting and organizing dozens of boat captains to accommodate the dozens of participants in attendance. For these reasons, the North Carolina Regional leadership recognizes John as the embodiment of the spirit of this award and a most deserving recipient. John’s passion for fly-fishing, enthusiastic leadership, and devotion to the service of our participants will no doubt prove to be of lasting impact on Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, as a whole.