Donald Voss was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1947 and is one of three sons to Harold and Frances Voss. He graduated from North High School in 1966. Before and after military service, he attended The Ohio State University and then in 1986, graduated from Franklin University with degrees in Business Administration, Accounting and Computer Management.
Voss served in Vietnam during the brutal 1968-69 TET Offensives where he was severely wounded and spent time in hospitals until being medically released in 1970. Suffering from limited mobility, Voss returned to OSU and served as Undergraduate Student Government Treasurer while attending classes.
Voss left college after the shootings at Kent State and traveled to the Florida Keys to attempt to regain his strength and return to a normal life again. Part of this journey was to return to the water and through swimming and if possible try snorkel and then scuba diving, and possibly regain his strength. The water therapy worked and before long, Voss found himself diving and moving near normal.
He returned to Ohio to pursue his education and operated a snow removal
operation for 27 years and served on a Board of Northend Community Center Corporation and their Recycling project through 1990. As part of this, he constructed a multi-material separation plant, oversaw operations and acted as chief grant writer.
During this time, he also gained his Master Captain’s license and continued to accumulate scuba diving hours and certification reaching the ranking of Master Diver. And in 1999, Voss began to transition his life to the Ft Pierce area of Florida. And then, by 2000, he was chartering boats and enjoying the beach and semi-retirement.
Since 2001, Captain Voss founded a group of divers that removed debris and operated under numerous umbrella groups until, in 2006, he and the divers got fed up with the bickering and split off and formed what is now Marine Cleanup Initiative Inc.
Captain Voss servers as Operations Director of this not-for-profit organization tasked with the removal of Marine Debris, eradicate ghost fishing such as casting nets and derelict traps, restore habitat, raise awareness and provide education to the citizens of the Indian River Lagoon estuary.
In doing so, Captain Voss and the group have been the recipient of over 50 Proclamation, Keys to two Cities, letters of Support from Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Governors, State and Federal Congress members, Mayors and Commissioners. He has been named the Loggerhead Marine Life Blue Friend’s Ambassador of the Year in 2010 and the 2012 Oceana’s International Ocean Hero. He was instrumental in Fort Pierce’s winning the Toyota/Wyland’s Mayor Water Conservation Award in 2012.
Capt. Voss is a member of the Ft Pierce Tourism Advisory Board and entrenched in the local community where he has expanded operations to now include Spoil Islands and tributaries to the four counties, four inlets and 95 miles of the estuary. This July, MCII joined with several other organizations to start an effort to address the invasive Lionfish to save the wildlife being eviscerated by this species.
As Operations Director of Marine Cleanup Initiative Inc, he has participated with over 600 volunteers to remove nearly 400,000 pounds of debris from the waterways, spearheaded the formation of several dozen similar groups. He is known as the “man who does not take NO for an answer.” He has spoken to over 11,000 school kids across the state and is one of the most recognized characters in the area. Part of his work includes serving as “Beach Santa Claus” for the local Christmas Parade as well as “Oysterdude, the Dirty Oyster” for the local Oyster festival. Last year, he posed for over 2000 photos with kids and families.
Captain Voss is also a member of the WHALE Center, board of advisors involved in ocean protection and sustainable tourism, Northend Community Center Corporation and the American Dream Factory, an organization working as a business incubation project in conjunction with the Wounded Warriors Project working with the Police Athletic League and a collation of other businesses and community leaders. He is Production Manager of the Sunrise City DVD Magazine which promotes the Ft Pierce area.
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