Dr. Calvin R. Fremling, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Winona State University, spent much of his adult life studying and enjoying the Upper Mississippi River. As a scientist and an avid outdoorsman, he saw the river undergo many changes during the last decades. These changes in the river changed him.
Cal received his BS degree in Biology and Physical Science from St. Cloud State University in 1951. Following a brief teaching assignment at Motley High School and a stint with the U.S. Army’s Ecological Research Unit at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, Cal returned to St. Cloud State earning his MS degree in Biology in 1955. He worked for the Minnesota Department of Conservation and was a Biology Instructor at Eveleth Junior College before starting graduate studies at Iowa State University. After completing his PhD in 1959, Cal joined the faculty at Winona State University, teaching and doing research for 32 years until his retirement in 1991.
During his scientific career, Cal authored numerous journal articles and technical reports dealing with applied studies of the Mississippi River. He is well known for his work on Mississippi River mayflies, which has been featured in an Encyclopedia Britannica film and on the television program "Those Amazing Animals." His thorough and creative work on the Weaver Bottoms Rehabilitation Project was recognized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which presented the project with its highest award for projects worldwide. Cal received nearly $400,000 in grants to fund his Mississippi River studies. In 1976, the Minnesota Academy of Science presented Cal with its Distinguished Service Award in Scientific Research and in 1992 the Mississippi River Research Consortium presented him with the "Friend of the River" award in recognition of his river research and his efforts in providing a better understanding of the ecology of the Mississippi River.
Cal’s enthusiasm for sharing knowledge was particularly evident in his classes at Winona State. He taught a wide variety of classes throughout his career, primarily in the areas of conservation, limnology, entomology, human biology, and human anatomy. His lectures were lavishly illustrated with slides taken during his research projects, field laboratories, fishing and hunting expeditions and national and international travels. Cal’s classes were consistently enjoyed by his students, and former students still contact him to let him know how much they appreciated his efforts. Cal also has strived to find new and better ways to preserve animals and their organs for classroom teaching resulting in a U.S. Patent for a biological preservation process. Cal authored 15 dissection manuals and teacher’s guides. The McKnight Family Scientific Fund Award was presented to Cal in 1967 for his contributions to college biology teaching, and the Minnesota Chapter of the American Fisheries Society presented him with its Award of Excellence for Distinguished Contributions to Aquatic Education and Aquatic Biology/Fisheries in 1989. He was honored as the Alumnus of the Year by Brainerd Community College in 1985 and by St. Cloud State University in 1993.
Cal worked tirelessly as a scientific consultant for private industries, citizens’ groups and governmental agencies. His most extensive efforts were focused on the Lake Winona restoration project, one of the most complex lake restoration projects ever undertaken in Minnesota. He co- authored two editions of the "Lake Winona Compendium," the book documenting the restoration project and the ongoing study of Lake Winona.