Paddlers honor the late Verlen Kruger with life-sized statue in Portland, Michigan

Grand Rapids Press – In the tiny town of Portland on Friday, amid the ball diamonds and canoe launch at Thompson Field, hundreds of paddlers will gather to honor a Michigan icon and hero: the late Verlen Kruger (visit Kruger Canoes). If you’ve never heard his name, you are not alone. Kruger was 82 when he died of cancer in 2004. But the unique and special man with a build of a bulldog, and a boundless appetite for adventure, inspired paddlers and non-paddlers all over the globe. Kruger started paddling before it was cool, long before the masses turned their collective attention to kayaking. His paddling exploits are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. He paddled more than 100,000 miles in his lifetime.

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