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RALEIGH, N.C. (July 17) - John E. Pechmann, 57, chairman of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, died Saturday morning from an apparent heart attack.

A prominent criminal attorney from Fayetteville, Pechmann was appointed to the Commission in 1993. He was elected chairman in 1999 and was re-elected for a fourth term as chairman last year. His accomplishments while serving as Commissioner were many.

He sponsored youth fishing programs and provided lifetime licenses for many youngsters in conjunction with National Fishing and Boating Week celebrations.

"John always enjoyed presenting these awards to the winning young fishers at the July Commission meetings," said Richard B. Hamilton, executive director of the Commission. "He had a great rapport with young people and set a positive example for them."

He was also instrumental in the approval, funding and construction of the Wildlife Resources Commission headquarters at Centennial Campus.

"He was proud of the design and implementation of energy conservation measures included in the construction of the building," Hamilton said. "The fish and wildlife education theme of the center fits his interests perfectly and he was instrumental in the realization of the outreach component of the new building."

He supported the development of a "recruitment and retention" program for the Wildlife Resources Commission designed to keep people involved and to attract new hunters and anglers because he realized the importance of keeping North Carolina's sportsmen and women involved in outdoor activities and in attracting new participants.

"John Pechmann's conservation ethic was exemplary and came straight from the heart," Hamilton said. "He provided strong, tireless leadership to the Wildlife Resources Commission to direct agency programs for the improvement of fish and wildlife resources in North Carolina and to expand opportunities for the public to participate in outdoor recreational activities.

"His contributions to fish and wildlife programs in North Carolina will forever stand tall in the halls of conservation of this state."

Pechmann received the 2000 N.C. Conservationist of the Year award, part of the prestigious Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards program. He was recognized for his service to wildlife and conservation; his work to increase the state's wildlife endowment fund; and his efforts to expand the Commission's efforts to restore and conserve wildlife habitat.

An avid fisherman who could be found on many weekends fishing the blackwater rivers of eastern North Carolina, Pechmann was a staunch supporter of fisheries management, conservation and education.

A $3 million fishing education center in Fayetteville, projected to open in July 2007, is named after him to recognize his commitment to fishing in North Carolina and to anglers across the state who, like him, have dedicated their lives to serving as responsible stewards of our state's aquatic resources.

A dedication ceremony for the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center is scheduled for August.

"John always loved fishing, and loved to work with kids," Hamilton said. "I believe it's fitting that we're building this fishing education center in his honor."

Pechmann is survived by his wife, Amy, and his son, Jack. Also surviving are his mother, Lillian; brother, Gregory; sisters, Phyllis Maultsby, Anne Mitchell and Mary Underwood; and sister-in-law, Sheila Latta.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville. The funeral service will immediately follow. Burial will be at Lafayette Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, c/o the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission; Attn: Theresa Castro, 1710 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1710.
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