Dean H. Pohl

Dean H. Pohl with granddaughter Avery Mae Pohl.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

— Teddy Roosevelt

Dean H. Pohl, 80, of Antlers Road, passed away Thursday, May 18, 2023 at his home.

Born on Dec. 4, 1942 in Rome, New York, Dean was the son of the late William and Mildred (Letts) Pohl. He was a graduate of West Leyden High School and earned an Associates degree from Alfred Tech.

Following graduation, Dean relocated to Raquette Lake permanently, where he had summered since he was a young boy. Dean was the maintenance supervisor at Echo Camp for Girls for several years, where he wooed laundry girl Donna Blakely over boat rides up the Marion River, where he had planted salt licks to guarantee deer sightings. And she wooed him with her work ethic and minimalist attitude, having arrived in Raquette Lake with only a knapsack! Dean and Donna were married on May 29, 1971 on the dock at Echo.

In 1974, Dean opened Pohl Construction, specializing in single family camps and homes accessible only by boat, necessitating barging of materials, equipment, fill — everything you need to build a house. As a master carpenter and contractor, his motto was “No job too big, no job too small,” and he proudly did “business on a handshake” for over 50 years. Concurrently, for 20-plus years, Dean was the maintenance superintendent at the Raquette Lake Camps, a two-campus facility with over 600 residents including campers and staff.

Amazingly, Dean found time for yet another project. In the winters of 1989-1991, Dean built the W.W. Durant, founding Raquette Lake Navigation alongside Donna, launching the Durant on June 29, 1991. With Captain Dean at the helm, Donna acting as the operation’s “WD-40,” and the four children filling various roles over the years, the Pohls have hosted over 450,000 guests in their 30 year history.

In 2021, it was with great pride that the couple sold the business to the next generation — daughter Rachel and son Jim — and Dean and Donna became the new owners’ most loyal employees and greatest supporters.

Dean was a steward of the Adirondacks and of Raquette Lake in particular. He believed in serving his community and was an elected commissioner of the Raquette Lake Fire District #3, a Board member of the Raquette Lake Union Free School District, an active member of the Raquette Lake Fish and Game Club, an elected town of Long Lake Councilman for the past 18 years, and an avid supporter of St. William’s on Long Point. He was also a member of the North Woods Lodge #849 Free and Accepted Masons and the Oriental Shriners. Dean was known as a problem solver and gave of himself willingly whenever the community needed it. He was instrumental in resolving the Township 40 title dispute, the Raquette Lake reservoir issue, and many other challenges that the community has faced over the years.

Dean enjoyed hunting, ice fishing, and above all, earning a living with his family. BD (“Before Donna”), he enjoyed raising hell.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 52 years, Donna Pohl; their four children: Bill Pohl (Biz), Rachel Pohl (George), Jim Pohl (Sydney), and Rebecca Pohl (Rambo); two grandchildren: Avery Mae Pohl and Dean James Pohl; a sister, Jane Cihocki; and his dear friends: Flip Joyce, Dan Richards, Mitch Edelstein, Mike Burke, Jim Dillon, Jim Blanchard, Gyula Kiss, Jay Cummings, Mike Marleau, John Hosley, Dennis Phillips, Bill Osborne, Willie Hollister, Electric Bob and Jim Dwyer.

Dean is joining many dear friends who predeceased him: Don Bird, Garry Hazen, Bill Cooley, Jerry Lanphear, Jim Bird, Kurt Forsell, Dutch Pylman, Don Langham, George Fuge, George Loriot, Harry Waldron, Fred Burke, Skipper and Alice, Rusty and Steve, Pat Cunningham, and Hal Stevens … too many to list.

A celebration of Dean’s life will be held at Dean and Donna’s home in Raquette Lake, the Birch Cottage, 490 Antlers Road, on Saturday, May 27, 2-5 p.m. Further details are on the Raquette Lake Navigation Facebook page.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Dean’s memory may be directed to St. William’s on Long Point: www.stwilliamslongpoint.org.

To express online condolences, please visit www.brewermillerfuneralhomes.com and/or www.facebook.com/raquettelakenavigation.