The Verlen Kruger Award


Nominations now being accepted for the 2024 Verlen Kruger Award!


There are two ways to submit a nomination for the Verlen Kruger Award

1. You can fill out the Online Submission: Verlen Kruger Award Nomination

2. You can download the PDF document and fill it out and email the document to 


Verlen Kruger "The River Guardian" 

Verlen Kruger (June 30, 1922 – August 2, 2004) was a world record canoeist from Delta Mills, Michigan. In his lifetime, he paddled over 100,000 mi (160,000 km). This love of paddling was all the more remarkable because he did not start until age 41. Of particular note are the 18,232 mile Two Continent Canoe Expedition and the 28,040 mi Ultimate Canoe Challenge, the longest canoe journey ever. For more details on his accomplishments, read the story in Rapid Media's online edition of Paddling Magazine. Verlen was named “The River Guardian” at the 2003 Quiet Water Symposium. This was a heartfelt honor from the entire mid-Michigan paddling community. He was recognized for his outstanding achievements and records in paddle sports, for bringing international awareness to our environmentally sensitive waterways, and for fostering stewardship of our treasured water resources.

As a further honor to Verlen, the award was named for him for subsequent years, becoming “The Verlen Kruger Award”. It is given annually to a person (or persons) who has supported and promoted paddle sports along with water conservation, education, or history in Michigan. The recipient of this award receives a commemorative paddle, and a brick on which the date and the name of the recipient is engraved. A duplicate brick is added to the walkway around the Verlen Kruger Memorial located by the Grand River in Portland, Michigan. The recipient’s name is also engraved on a plaque that is on public display.

On March 4, 2023, in a live presentation at the 28th Quiet Adventures Symposium, the 2023 Verlen Kruger Award will be given to Gary and Linda De Kock, two paddlers who have earned the highest respect from those familiar with their years of leadership in the paddling community. They are past President and Secretary, respectively, of the Quiet Water Society.

With their paddling missions and their unfailing support to the Quiet Water Society and to the Symposium, they continue the Kruger spirit. For over 45 years, they have been paddling together, from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River and Michigan’s own Grand River and more. They met River Angels everywhere and became ambassadors for paddlers wherever they went. Their commitment to Water for People demonstrates their belief that we are a global society, and they seek to make a difference in the world. In this case, they support the development of potable water supplies in developing countries, including in February 2023 with their Suwanee River Trip.

Presented at the 2023 Quiet Adventure Symposium to Gary and Linda De Kock 

With this award, the Quiet Water Society celebrates the efforts of Gary and Linda Gary and Linda join the ranks of the previous Verlen Kruger Award winners, all recognized for bringing awareness to our environmentally sensitive waterways, and for fostering stewardship of our treasured water resources.  







Verlen Kruger

James C. Woodruff

Janet Gross & Dave McCune

Gloria Miller





Albert Schultz

Dan Smith & Mike Smith

Karl Pearson

Charlie Parmalee





Doug Carter

Jay Hanks

Russ Hicks

Jean Kinnear





Ron Sell

Tiffany & Patrick Van DeHey

Dean Sandell

Tom & Connie Cannon





Hugh Walton

Andrea Knepper

Deana Jerdee

Todd Leigh
Linda Savage
Nancy Uschold



Gary &  Linda DeKock