At the start of a new year we pause to reflect upon the losses to our friends and colleagues in the taxidermy profession during the last twelve months. Artists, family members, industry pioneers, and journeymen taxidermists were among the ones who left us due to illness, accident, unfortunate circumstances or the passing of time. We pay tribute to the lasting legacy of our comrades who will be missed and mourned within our extended taxidermy family. Here are some of the people who left our world during 2015.
John and Barb Lager of Colorado let me know the sad news about their tanner, Bernie Bickels of Buffalo, Wyoming. He was the Lager’s tanner as well Barry Smith’s and many other taxidermists in Colorado and Wyoming. He tragically drowned on January 24, 2016 trying save his two dogs from thin river ice.
Bonnie Ann Lopez Orillion of Covington, Lousiana, passed away in her home on February 14, 2015. Bonnie was married for 51 years to taxidermist Mike Orillion, and was extremely active in the taxidermy community. Bonnie was a valued member of the World Taxidermy Championships staff and the Louisiana Taxidermists Assocition.
Bob Turner of Texas City, Texas passed away Saturday, March 21, 2015. Bob was the owner of Lone Star Taxidermy Supply, where he also taught taxidermy classes to many successful students. Bobby was active in the taxidermy community, making friends all over the country at conventions.
Bob Wilkins, April 8, 2015
Forum post: http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php/topic,384285.0.html
Bob Wilkins of Cameron, Texas passed away Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Bob was an award-winning taxidermist and owner of Bob Wilkins Wildlife Artisty. Bob had an enormous influence on the taxidermy industry and was universally respected and loved by all who came in contact with him.
Surry Taxidermy Mini-Course
For the first time in 41 years, there was no Taxidermy Mini-Course in the spring. After 9 years, Surry Community College in North Carolina cancelled the popular event, which they took over from Piedmont Community College, which had hosted the convention from 1974 until 2005. At times in the early years, the Mini-Course boasted the largest gathering of taxidermists in the country, with a friendly, down-home atmosphere.
On June 3, 2015, Linda Rheinlander of Lockhart, Texas passed away from a sudden illness. Linda was the wife of Terry Rheinlander, and was active in participating in the Texas Taxidermy Association Inc., and atteneded many conventions with Terry as he judged at state, national and World competitions.
Al Belanger of Andover, Massachusetts passed away Monday, June 29, 2015. Al was a taxidermist for over 60 years, a pioneer of freeze-dry taxidermy, and a regular fixture at state and national conventions in the northeast.
Al Belanger on “American Pickers”: http://www.taxidermy.net/ken/?p=1304
Tom Piwetz of Meyersville, Texas passed away Thursday, July 2, 2015. Tom was the first president of the Texas Taxidermy Association Inc., and started two sucessful businesses, Tom’s Taxidermy and South Texas Fur Dressers, of Victoria. Tom was an avid hunter, outdoorsman, photographer and world traveler.
Ken Pruett of Cherryville, North Carolina, died July 4, 2015. Ken was the owner of Mirage Image Studio of Taxidermy and a longtime member of the North Carolina Taxidermists Association. He also was a country and western musician and singer and recently played with the Broken Axle Band. Anyone who attended the Piedmont Technical College Mini-Course in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s (and later the Surry Show) will remember Ken. Every evening it seemed that he was in the parking lot playing his guitar and singing to an enthusiastic audience of taxidermists.
Randy G. Cooper of Camdenton, Missouri died Wednesday, July 8, 2015, at the age of 54. Randy was the founder and charter member of the Missouri Taxidermy Association, who now offers the Randy Cooper Award at their convention. Randy was an avid outdoorsman, a talented taxidermist and a friend to all.
Jack Jonas passed away Wednesday, July 8, 2015. A true taxidermy industry icon, Jack was the grandson of Coloman Jonas and the former manager of Jonas Bros. Taxidermy in Denver. A member of the SCI Hunting Hall of Fame, Jack was a celebrated hunting guide, conservationist, and nearly singlehandedly saved big game hunting in Alaska. For the past two decades he has been the leading taxidermy appraiser in the world.
Audrey E. “Audie” Crabtree of Citrus Heights, California, died on July 11, 2015, at the age of 88. A Veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, he operated Crabtree’s Taxidermy for over 50 years. His wife of 58 years, Mary Lou Crabtree, served many years on the Board of Directors of the National Taxidermists Association.
Clifford M. Beaver of Compton, Arkansas passed away on August 2, 2015 after a long battle with a rare leukemia. An outstanding taxidermist, Cliff competed sucessfully in the Division of Excellence at National Taxidermists Association conventions.
Dale Robinson of Tratton Run Taxidermy in Sussex, New Brunswick, died on September 30, 2015 in a tragic accident accident at his home. Dale was a well-known Canadian taxidermist and outdoorsman.
Lou Biehler of Westport, Connecticut passed away after a sudden Heart attack on November 2, 2015. A taxidermist and tanner, Lou was the last President of the Connecticut Association of Taxidermists (C.A.T.) before the name was changed to the current New England Association of Taxidermists (N.E.A.T.).
Bob Miles of Parrot, Georgia passed away on November 10, 2015. Bob was one of the original founding members of the Georgia Taxidermist Association and a very talented taxidermist. A Purple Heart recipent, Bob served his country in the Army and served his community as an outstanding taxidermist as well as operating a full service processing facility.
Michael H. Kintner, 59, of White Township, New Jersey, passed away unexpectedly on November 12, 2015 in St. Luke’s, Warren Campus with his wife and grandson by his side. Mike was a past president of the Garden State Taxidermy Association and instrumental in the success of the association. A talented taxidermist, Mick was loved and respected by all who knew him.
Tom Freitag of Denver, Colorado was an old school small business taxidermist who passed away on December 11, 2015. A Vietnam veteran, he started his taxidermy career with the legendary Jonas Brothers Taxidermy Studio in Denver before opening his own successful commercial shop.
Norman K. Meyer of Harrison, Ohio, passed away peacefully at age 86 on December 20, 2015 surrounded by his family. Norm was a charter member of the National Taxidermists Association, as well as a board member and Vice President. He served as the Chairman of the National Taxidermists Hall of Fame, and was the developer of the Meyer two-in-one fleshing knife and Meyer’s Fish Mix, products which changed taxidermy in the 1970s.
James Elton “Jimmy” Warren Jr., 75, a lifelong resident of Panama City, Florida, passed away on Sunday, December 27, 2015. Jimmy was the owner and operator of Warren’s Taxidermy, where he developed a stellar reputation for providing high-quality fish reproductions to taxidermists all over the country.
Previous Year’s In Memoriam
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