Blogs > Keeping Current > Riverkeeper mourns the passing of two noble friends

Riverkeeper mourns the passing of two noble friends


View more images on our Flickr site

Riverkeeper Mourns the Passing of Two FriendsDavid Schuyler and Ronald A. DeSilva, two longtime Riverkeeper allies, have recently passed on. Riverkeeper mourns the loss and celebrates their lives.

DeSilva’s involvement with Riverkeeper spanned decades, going back to when the organization was still known as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association. A longtime board member, he was honored with the title “director emeritus” after he left the Riverkeeper board in 2004. 

DeSilva was an art historian and respected authority on American furniture and decorative arts. He was formerly Assistant Vice President and Director of the American Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Sotheby Parke Bernet and Director of the Art Nouveau Department. Occasionally, he used his skills as an appraiser and auctioneer to help fundraise for the Fishermen’s Association and Riverkeeper. 

Besides Riverkeeper, Ronald dedicated himself as a board member of The Chapel Restoration in Cold Spring and the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon. Our condolences go out to his wife Barbara, his children, grandchildren and siblings. 

Schuyler was an educator, historian and author who had an abiding love of the Hudson Valley. He had a four decade career as a Professor of Humanities and American Studies at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, and he authored many books. His last, Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American Environmentalism, describes the efforts of individuals, organizations and communities along the Hudson that sought to reverse the pollution and bleak future of the river, tying the efforts of to save our iconic waterway to the emergence of modern environmentalism in the United States. The stories of these pioneering environmentalists told in Embattled River serve as a guide to provide lessons, reminders, and inspiration for a new generation of activists.

The history and essence of our organization were captured in Embattled River, much of it in Chapter 4, aptly titled “The Fishermen and the Riverkeeper.” Schuyler tells how Riverkeeper’s founder, Bob Boyle, embodied a new type of environmentalist. Whereas Pete Seeger promoted populist environmentalism, Boyle and the fishermen who worked the Hudson exemplified “blue collar” environmentalism and focused on protecting the places where people — especially working-class people — lived. From there, he chronicled the Fishermen’s early battles against polluters such as Penn Central Railroad and Exxon Mobil, as well the creation of its “Riverkeeper” program.

“True to its origins with the hardscrabble Fishermen’s Association, Riverkeeper has also taken on powerful corporations, as well as the state and city of New York,” wrote Schuyler. “Clean water — for fish to swim in, for citizens to drink and swim or boat in —  has since the organization of the Fishermen’s Association been the principal cause of Riverkeeper.”

In November 2018, Schuyler joined with Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay, Center of Earth Ethics Director and Riverkeeper board member Karenna Gore, and noted aquatic biologist John Waldman in a panel discussion, The Hudson as Life Force, at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. Each shared their unique perspectives on the Hudson River amid the backdrop of Maya Lin’s “A River is a Drawing” exhibition at the museum.

Our condolences to David’s surviving family. He is survived by his daughter Nancy Sener Schuyler and nine siblings.

Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
Become a Member