David Darrin and Daughter, Hannah: Carrying on a Storied Family Legacy of Lake Protection

The following profile was prepared by The FUND for Lake George prior to its 2021 merger with the LGA.

August 2020

A simple Help Wanted ad, placed more than 40 years ago, helped launch one of the most generous, meaningful, and still enduring displays of family philanthropy ever bestowed on Lake George.

David Darrin was a teenager in the late 1970s when he and his brother Tim answered an ad for jobs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s freshwater research facility on Gull Bay in Putnam Station, David as a carpenter, Tim driving boats for the researchers (“The scientists kept breaking them,” David jokes now). The Darrin family had purchased a summer home in Hague in the early 1960s. Parents Margaret and David, a senior executive with the Automatic Switch Company in New Jersey, had fallen in love with the Lake while honeymooning in 1948 and returned every summer for Lakeside camping trips until purchasing the home.

Hannah & David Darrin multi-generational protectors of Lake George

David remembers his father, an RPI graduate, visiting the research facility one day to see what his sons — or, more likely, the scientists — were up to. Mr. Darrin, already a generous benefactor of many causes, was duly impressed. “The next day,” David says, “Dad wrote a check for a sizable amount of money.”

Thus began five decades and counting of Darrin family philanthropy on Lake George. Mr and Mrs. Darrin’s generosity endows the internationally recognized Darrin Fresh Water Institute, and procured and built the Institute’s state-of-the-art campus in Bolton Landing. Now, with the foresight to bring the Institute’s science to solving the problems threatening the Lake today, the Darrin family also plays a major role in supporting The FUND for Lake George’s science-guided protection programs.

“We’ve seen other freshwater bodies become what we don’t want Lake George to become. Its protection is critical, and anything we can to do to maintain the beauty and natural experience of the Lake is paramount. The FUND and The Jefferson Project are doing that.”


Mr. and Mrs. Darrin are no longer with us, but the waters of Lake George continue to run deep in the veins of their son David and his daughter, Hannah. Both grew up spending summers on the Lake and continue to live much of the year in Hague, David in a house he built in the 1980s, Hannah in her grandparents’ original home. Both have a tremendous pride in the Darrin Fresh Water Institute and, not surprisingly, they share a deep commitment to Lake protection, which they demonstrate as established leaders in this essential pursuit.

David is a member of The FUND for Lake George Board of Trustees and our LG30 Group of legacy supporters. He joins the Margaret A. Darrin Charitable Trust, established by his mother, in this select group honored for their leadership investments vital to making The FUND’s pace-setting Lake protection work possible. The Darrins’ giving is focused on the work of The Jefferson Project, the groundbreaking environmental research collaboration of The FUND, RPI and IBM. “They are doing the most amazing work for Lake George,” David says. “The connection between the science, the technology, and the advocacy is really quite incredible.”

Hannah, an environmental researcher and advocate, graduated earlier this year with a master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where she studied equitable land conservation. She says her love of the great outdoors began along the wooded trails of the Lake George watershed, and she speaks fondly of summers spent working as an environmental educator with The Jefferson Project, where she engaged with children aboard the Lake George Steamboat Company’s Minne-Ha-Ha about why protecting the Lake matters.

“It’s so important for people to think about how we can have access to and enjoy the Lake, while also taking care of and being part of it, and understand that what we do to the Lake and how we treat nearby waterways and hiking trails makes a difference, now and for the future,” Hannah says.

David praises The FUND’s multi-faceted work to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, reduce the infiltration of damaging road salt, and minimize the impacts of wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff — all the result of human activity and all within our power to control.

“Lake George has so many vectors pushing and pulling at it, and their influence is very strong,” he says. “We’ve seen other freshwater bodies become what we don’t want Lake George to become. Its protection is critical, and anything we can to do to maintain the beauty and natural experience of the Lake is paramount. The FUND and The Jefferson Project are doing that.”

“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Death by a thousand cuts,’” Hannah adds. “That’s what’s happening to Lake George, and it’s going to take a million little Band-Aids to make it heal.”

Both Darrins are hopeful that increasing numbers of Lake George residents and visitors will respond to the Lake’s call for help and join them in supporting The FUND’s many protection programs. As a second-generation Lake protection leader and advocate, David sees particular reason for optimism.

“There are so many multi-generational families on Lake George, and that, I think, is very important for the future of the Lake. They’re a bright light, along with The FUND and The Jefferson Project.”

And what would his parents think of the Lake George we’re protecting today?

“I think they would be proud that we’re carrying on what they started,” David says. “They would be very pleased with these bright lights shining the way toward lasting protection.”