Cancer hit the taxidermy industry especially hard in 2016, taking most of the friends that we lost. 2016 will also go down in history as one of the most devastating years for loss of major celebrities. Dozens of musicians, actors, entertainers and world leaders who died during the year made for and endless parade of “In Memoriam” features across all media in the final days of December. In our little corner of the world, we had our own industry celebrities as well as associates, family members and friends whom we have lost. At the start of a new year we pause to reflect upon the lasting legacy of those who will be missed and mourned within our extended taxidermy family. Here are some of the people who left us during 2016.
Phillip Charles of Waipu, New Zealand died in a tragic car crash on May 13, 2016. Phillip was a regular visitor to the World Taxidermy Championships, where he often welcomed the international guests at the banquet. He was the owner of Tinopai Taxidermy Supply and was a friend and host to many North American taxidermists when they visited his beautiful country. Phillip had been battling cancer for over five years when he died.
Theresa “Bonnie” Lavallee, the beloved wife of Jean Lavalee for 58 years died from breast cancer on May 14. One of our oldest contributors, Jean (known as JL on the Forum), lives in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where he has been practicing taxidermy for over 65 years and posting on the Forum for 20 years.
Gary Bowen, formerly of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and later of Littleton, Colorado, died on May 24, 2016 after a long illness. Gary was a world-renowned master taxidermist, a developer, inventor and patent holder of several innovative taxidermy products, and a longtime contributor to Breakthrough Magazine, as the author of the original “Back to Basics” article series. He was inducted into the Iowa Taxidermy Association Hall of Fame in 1999.
The matriarch of the modern taxidermy community, Miss Lola Haynes attended every NTA convention until her declining health prevented her from travelling. Lola and Charley Haynes were the original founders of the National Taxidermists Association in 1972, and she taught one of the very first taxidermy seminars ever given at a convention. Miss Lola passed away on May 21, 2016, two months before what would have been her 93rd birthday.
Ontario taxidermist Sam Carrafiello, known as DT10Sam on the Forum, passed away in May 2017 after a long battle with cancer. A big-hearted man with a passion for life and learning, Sam was a frequent attendee at taxidermy workshops and seminars, where he made many lifelong friends.
On August 26, 2016 Dan Blair of Wasilla, Alaska lost his long battle with cancer. Dan was a prolific writer, wood carver, taxidermist and outdoorsman. He was an associate editor of Breakthrough Magazine in the 1980s as well as a major contributor to “The Breakthrough Habitat and Exhibit Manual.” He founded the largest internet Fish Carving group with hundreds of members and nearly twenty years of success. Dan was also a talented poet, artist, and inventor. He was instrumental in the success of the International Fish Carvers & Painters Association and assisted with the World Fish Carving Championships.
Multi-talented wildlife artist W.D. “Bill” Gaither of Ludlow, Kentucky passed away on October 12, 2016. A highly successful flat artist and sculptor, Bill also had close ties to the taxidermy community he loved so much, giving seminars and working on special projects. For many years, Bill was one of our most prolific and interesting contributors on the Taxidermy Net Forums, posting as “Cur”, which was short for curmudgeon, a characterization he wore with pride. Many of his posts can still be seen on the old Forums at http://www.taxidermy.net/forums/ where you can search for “cur” to get a sense of his wisdom and humor.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bill.gaither.18
Bruce Babcock of Kalispell, Montana passed away on October 22, 2016 after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Bruce was a 45 year veteran of the taxidermy profession, and was a founding member of the Montana Taxidermy Guild in the early 80’s that later became the Montana Taxidermist Association. His love for the art of taxidermy was apparent in his work which was featured prominently in the taxidermy publications of the time.
On November 12, 2016, Kathy Powell of Awendaw, North Carolina passed away after a courageous five-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Kathy was the beloved wife of Tom Powell of McKenzie Taxidermy Supply and earlier Tom Powell Supply Company. Tom and Kathy had been married for 38 years.
Steve Steinbring of Newton Supply in Miami, Florida passed away suddenly on November 13, 2016 due to a deep vein thrombosis and embolism to his lungs. Steve was known in the taxidermy industry as “The Epoxy Guy” for his innovative products he developed and sold through his company, Epo-Grip. He was a competitive bow shooter and bowhunter. Along with his son Eric, Steve was a regular fixture at industry trade shows, manning his booth and teaching seminars, and was a great friend to all he knew.
Previous Year’s In Memoriam
In Memoriam 2015: http://www.taxidermy.net/ken/?p=1492
In Memoriam 2014: http://www.taxidermy.net/ken/?p=1160
In Memoriam 2013: http://www.taxidermy.net/ken/?p=1064
In Memoriam 2012: http://www.taxidermy.net/ken/?p=776
In Memoriam 2011: http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php/topic,290121.0.html
In Memoriam 2010: http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php/topic,245312.0.html