Cecil Allbrigth certainly left an enduring legacy of family and conservation. I met him briefly at a Dayton area Ducks Unlimited (DU) banquet. Longtime Dayton area outdoor writer Jim Robey, who was also involved with DU, introduced us. Sadly, I didn’t realize the contribution that Allbright made to the organization, conservation, sportsmen and anyone in southwest Ohio who loves the outdoors. Ducks were a large part of the Allbright family activities.
His daughter, Lani Allbright explains, “I’ve got pictures of me as a baby with duck calls. I literally teethed on a duck call. I remember going with him duck hunting to just sit in the blind. I’m not a hunter but I have an understanding of why my Dad loved it so much. Going with him, spending time and bonding with him was always a good time. Later my niece and I would both go to spend time in the duck blind with Dad.”
She continues, “Growing up everything was about Ducks Unlimited. My Dad had a hand in all the area chapters. He was a lifetime donor plus he spent two years as State Chairman. I was going to Ducks Unlimited banquets since I was a little kid. As soon as I could hold up things, I’d help with the auctions. I enjoyed the banquets. I understand the conservation side. I helped Dad with the Preble County banquet. It was his life and heart forever.”
Cecil Allbright had a real passion for ducks and conservation. His efforts went well past the banquets, which raised critical funds for wetland conservation projects. He was a strong advocate voice for wetlands conservation and projects, especially in southwest Ohio. He helped the Preble County Historical Society with a wetland demonstration site. He was instrumental in many wetlands projects around the state. He wrote and spoke to encourage others to become involved in the mission of DU. Along with all this he was a family man. Many associated with DU have said that he always included family and gave them credit as a foundation that allowed him to be involved with DU. His son William was another family member involved with duck hunting, conservation and DU.
Lani Allbright provides some history, “Bill was into DU. It was Bill, my niece, Dad and I who would be sitting in the duck blind together. Dad and Bill made ducks calls together. Bill followed Dad’s involvement in DU. I’ve got pictures of Bill at banquets holding guns. It has definitely been a family affair.”
Health issues took a toll on the family. Cecil fought cancer for 16 years. Finally, when he got very ill, he no longer could keep up all the commitment to all the banquets. Lani Allbright adds, “It was a tough battle but he was a fighter. This was the sixth or seventh time he had gone out of remission. He had always beat it but this time other health complications were just too much to bounce back. My brother, William, was diagnosed in January 2017 with pancreatic cancer. Knowing his son also had cancer took a heavy toll on Dad. They went into the hospital the same time and both started getting really bad at the same time. It is hard to imagine a world with only one of them. William passed away Sept 13 just after Dad, who passed on August 25. It has been difficult for the family to deal with two losses so close together. The day of his funeral was a cold wet day, just perfect for a duck hunter. I want to honor my Dad’s legacy with Ducks Unlimited and his passion for the outdoors. What we leave behind for other people is important. He left behind such a great legacy as a Father, family man and with DU.”
Aaron Dynes, Senior Regional Director for South Ohio, comments about a friend that he worked alongside, “A dear friend of DU passed. There are certain individuals with a passion for conservation, the resources and DU. Cecil was a special person for DU and sportsmen. He shared that passion with his sons and daughter. It was part of his life. I think, at one time or another, he held every position on the state council and was instrumental in state special projects. He served as a state chairman for two years positioning the organization to move forward.
His leadership helped DU reach a fund-raising goal of over $1-million for the first time. We continue to do well today thanks to his efforts, vision and leadership. He never asked for recognition. He dedicated his life to preservation and enhancement of the resources we enjoy. However, all of that isn’t the biggest mark he left. Quite frankly, he was most important in the ways he touched so many people’s lives.”
Lani Allbright adds, “Every person my Dad worked with throughout his life come away with an impression of how good a person and how caring he was. Our family inherited and learned that from our Father. My Dad taught me a good work ethic and to be someone people can depend on.”
It is a tremendous legacy that Cecil Allbright leaves for all who love the great outdoors. Hopefully, those in Preble County will continue his tradition of Ducks Unlimited. All Ohioans benefit from the conservation work of Ducks Unlimited. Protecting and restoring our limited wetlands is critical to so many species, especially birds, along with our water quality. His life was a model for conservation.
He demonstrated the things that the sportsmen and women of Ohio hold dear. The family noted that he loved lilacs and they bloomed, out of season, the day he died. It appears that Mother Nature was also giving her tribute to the life and work of Cecil Allbright.
Larry Moore is a local resident and weekly outdoor columnist.