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Club honors dedicated volunteer

If the volunteer group known as Manatee Watch were personified, it would look like Gus Froehlich.

The Citrus Springs resident, who came to the area from Indianapolis in 1997, was a fixture on the waters around Kings Bay. From his kayak he served as a front-line ambassador for the area's endangered manatees.

From that vantage point he met and educated visitors who came to see the area's rare animals, working to make sure their interaction with the beasts was positive for both human and manatee.

Froehlich, a retired air traffic control specialist, died in May. He was 63.

Matt Clemons, a kayak tour operator, met Froehlich several years ago and remembered him recently as a person who loved the outdoors and frequently photographed area wildlife.

To honor Froehlich, the Save the Manatee Club recently presented a plaque in the volunteer's honor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff in Crystal River. Froehlich's widow, Paulette, was there.

The plaque will be permanently attached to the educational kiosk that floats in Kings Bay, providing snorkelers and divers information about the do's and don'ts of manatee interaction.

The plaque reads:

"The Save the Manatee Club dedicates this plaque in memory of Gus Froehlich in appreciation of his dedicated efforts as a volunteer with the Kings Bay Manatee Watch.

"Because of his actions and the continued effort of all the Manatee Watch volunteers, the manatees in Citrus County live a better, safer life.

"All of the bay's creatures, great and small, will miss him."