Elliott Donnelley (1903-1975)

The History of EDTU

Elliott had boundless energy and devotion to a range of concerns from conservation to the disadvantaged in our society all the while being one of the leaders in Chicago’s business community.

He played a vital role in his family’s printing business, R. R. Donnelley and Sons, serving 20 years on the board of directors and serving as Vice Chairman. Since the age of 25, he was involved in boy’s clubs and was later responsible for the creation of the Chicago Youth Centers. He was active in his local community, Lake Forest, where he served as mayor and as an alderman. He served on the boards of hospitals, schools and universities, the Chicago Zoological Society, the Nature Conservancy, and others. In addition to fly fishing, he had a passion for steam locomotives and equipment and served on the board of The La Porte County Historical Steam Society.

Mr. Donnelley joined Trout Unlimited in 1962. He served as a National Director and in 1969 became President of TU. After serving the requisite 2 years, he was elected Chairman of the Board for another 2 years and then served on the board until his death in 1975.

The shift of TU’s focus to advocacy was his vision. He moved TU’s headquarters from Colorado to Washington D.C. and he pledged to personally fund the first year’s operating budget in Washington.

He was unendingly generous in his support of TU and conservation. On more than one year, his donations exceeded the amount contributed to the operating budget by membership revenue. He personally donated stream restoration funds under TU’s name. The Living Brightwater Trust, enabling stream restoration by TU chapters, is an outgrowth of his early personal initiatives.

His generosity should not disguise his belief that ultimately the success of TU is up to each of us, summarized by his quote, “Trout Unlimited is your organization and whatever it can accomplish is up to every member.”


EDTU today

Many, if not all, of our active members are flyfishers. This will be apparent when you attend one of our meetings (please do!), but you will also sense the passion we have for ensuring the fisheries we love are restored to or maintained at their full potential.

We work actively with other chapters of TU, local DNRs, land owners and municipalities to achieve results that benefit all. We take great pride not only in the results we help to achieve, but in the friendships we have built with local residents where we have been active.

Please join us for our next meeting. Meet the committed, fun-loving men and women of our chapter and consider becoming an active member.

The Elliott Donnelley chapter of Trout Unlimited (EDTU) is Chicago’s Trout Unlimited chapter and was the first chapter outside the founding state of Michigan.

Who was Elliott Donnelley?

Elliott Donnelley was an instrumental figure in the early development and growth of Trout Unlimited. Our Chapter, named for him, was formed in 1961.