Many thanks to Randy Dersham for orchestrating this year's McKenzie WB Festival. His poster this year features Dave Helfrich on the oars. His life partner, Terry Sambrailo rides shotgun.
The McKenzie lost David Prince Helfrich on October 7 last Fall. He is a river legend, not only on the McKenzie, but also on the Rogue, the Middle Fork, the Owyhee, and the Bruneau. His legacy is part of the larger Helfrich legacy which began with his dad, Prince, then Dave, followed by younger siblings Dick, Diane, and Dean. Collectively, the brothers spawned 15 Helfrich guides who today ply the McKenzie and Northwest waterways. His is a remarkable heritage.
It his later years, it was Dave’s intention to write his life story, but the river, travels and other interests got in the way. Four months before he died, and knowing that his time was very short, he decided it was time to do that book. By that time, he was unable to write. His mind and his voice, however, were clear, so an audio recording system was set up. Every Tuesday afternoon from early May until a couple of weeks before his death, Dave recorded his stories. His Hospice room became his “campsite,” and as several of us collected around his “campfire,” Dave told of his family’s early years on the McKenzie, his youth, his years as a logger, a back country pilot, a river guide and outfitter, and the intriguing characters he met and worked with. His stories have been transcribed and are being organized into a book. His book.