Douglas County lost a key figure in the outdoor community when Alexandria’s Belinda Zaske-Wink died unexpectedly on May 6 at the age of 43.

Belinda was passionate about the outdoors. I could see that during the times I would chat with her at weigh-ins during the fishing tournaments she and her husband, Glen, were almost always a part of. When the conversation turned away from fishing, it often jumped to hunting.

“That’s all she thought about. It was either fishing or hunting,” Alexandria’s Gene Sullivan told me when I talked to him on May 14 about Belinda’s role in the local outdoor community. “She really didn’t talk about much else. It was fishing, hunting and (her son), Kyle. When Kyle got old enough, he was glued to her side.”

Sullivan and Belinda became close friends over the years because they both share that same passion for the outdoors. They don’t just live it themselves. They help others live it. Both have been key figures in the Viking Sportsmen group for years, the local outdoor organization that is going strong now in its 75th year.

Belinda was an active member through multiple committees, a long-time board member, and the current vice president of the Viking Sportsmen. She and her husband led the kid’s food-plot program for the club. That provides a winter food source for wildlife and gets kids involved from the planting process, through potentially hunting over it in the fall and watching wildlife on it through the winter.

“It’s going to be tough to try to replace her (in the organization),” Sullivan said. “Her and Glen were involved in all of the projects together. You hardly ever saw one without the other one...She had a drive to win. That was her main goal in fishing all these tournaments and being on the Viking Sportsmen. She wanted to win.”

I came to know Belinda through my coverage of the outdoors in the Alexandria community. I interviewed her a couple of times for stories because I respected her knowledge about hunting and fishing-related topics.

When I saw her at an event, she was quick to say hello and chat. I remember talking with her about fishing for a pre-story I was doing on a bass tournament on Lake Darling a couple summers ago. It was getting close to bow-hunting season, and it was not long before we both shared our excitement about all of the upcoming mornings and evenings in the woods.

I enjoy interacting with people who have a passion for something. Having that fire motivates a person on a day-to-day basis. It makes a mundane Monday afternoon exciting because there is something to look forward to right around the corner.

It was evident that Belinda lived a life with passion for the outdoors. It was easy to see again on May 13 in a processional to honor her that followed a private family service at Anderson Funeral Home. Dozens of fellow fishing enthusiasts and friends pulled their boats through the streets of Alexandria near where she grew up.

Dozens of fishing enthusiasts join a processional to honor Belinda Wink on Wednesday, May 13, following a private family service at Anderson Funeral Home. Because of her love of the outdoors and growing up on the chain of lakes, the procession traveled over the Carlos-Darling bridge and the Carlos-L'Homme Dieu bridge. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)
Dozens of fishing enthusiasts join a processional to honor Belinda Wink on Wednesday, May 13, following a private family service at Anderson Funeral Home. Because of her love of the outdoors and growing up on the chain of lakes, the procession traveled over the Carlos-Darling bridge and the Carlos-L'Homme Dieu bridge. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

“Anyone who was watching it, it was pretty obvious what she liked to do,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know that there’s been a boat parade in this town other than on the lake.”

It was a chance for an outdoor community that she touched greatly to say goodbye.

“She is going to be really tough to replace,” Sullivan said. “I told Glen when I was talking to him the other day that one of these days it’s going to be Wink and Wink on these entries for the fishing tournaments. He’ll have Kyle in the boat with him.”