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Fisherman who put on free youth clinic in Milwaukee for 20-plus years died at 73

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MILWAUKEE -- EB Garner was born in Mississippi and moved to Milwaukee as a young man. He worked more than three decades with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, but left an even bigger mark on the community by promoting the sport of fishing. He put on a free fishing clinic each summer for more than 22 years, and brought countless young people in Milwaukee to the water, often at Washington Park. He passed away on Feb. 29 at the age of 73. FOX6 News profiled Garner back in 2008 for a "Beyond the Game" piece, and Garner reflected on his love of fishing -- and sharing his passion with others.

"I grew up down south, near the river," said Garner. "We ate fish Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I don't eat fish, but I love fishing."

Garner said he enjoyed fishing because it took him away from the hustle and bustle of life, and brought "peace and quiet."

"Just being out with the nature," said Garner. "Some people go fishing just to get away from their wife, you know what I mean? Not me. I go fishing to catch us some fish. If I go a couple of times without fishing, she wants to know what's wrong. Have I lost my touch, you know what I mean?"

Like many of the children he fished with, Garner started young.

"I used to fish with my dad, and he catch fish, and I ain't catching 'em. I asked, 'What's wrong,' and he said, 'You ain't holding your mouth right.' So he made a clown out of me, mouth all crooked and everything. He said, 'You can't make a fish bite if he don't wanna bite.'"

Garner called fishing a sport you don't have to be good at -- something anyone can do, no matter their age.

"Fishing you can do at any time," said Garner. "The only thing about fishing is getting up and down the fishing bank, but I just enjoy fishing -- just sitting out here just wasting, I call it wasting my time, but it's a good kind to me, you know what I mean?"

During our interview, Garner talked about catching hungry catfish -- comparing them to people "coming home from the tavern."

"Catfish, they start eating just before dark -- biting," said Garner. "They bite all the way up to maybe 6 in the morning, and late at night is when the big catfish come through, like, 'Give me that pole' you know what I mean?"

Garner touched the lives of an estimated 1,000 individuals who attended his fishing clinics since its conception. The legacy he created with the Free Annual Fishing Camp will continue, with his family requesting donations in lieu of flowers.

If you are interested in making a donation, you can do so at Garner's funeral, or you may contact Keith Garner at 414-840-0152 to make donation arrangments, with checks made payable to the EB Garner Fishing Club.

Funeral services were scheduled for Wednesday, March 11 at Trinity Baptist Church on Teutonia Avenue in Milwaukee, with a visitation scheduled for 11 a.m. and services at noon.

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