Thursday, July 23, 2009

Letters From Home

Back "home" in Pennsylvania, Dad was receiving yet another award, this time for his life long contribution to an amazing bird sanctuary called "Hawk Mountain." Excerpts from the article written for the occasion follow:

Sam Gundy, retired director of the Reading Museum and professor at Kutztown University, has received Hawk Mountain Sanctuary's highest honor, the Warden Award, symbolic of perseverance and sacrifice in the service of conservation. The award - a replica of the original warden's badge worn by founding Hawk Mountain curator Maurice Broun - was announced at the sanctuary's annual Benefit for the Birds dinner in June, and presented to Sam by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary president Lee Schisler, and by sanctuary board member (and former Gundy student) Scott Weidensaul. Sam, now 91, made his first visit to Hawk Mountain in 1932, before the sanctuary was established, when it was still a gunning site during the fall migration. In a sense he never left - his is the longest-running membership in the sanctuary's 75-year history. Starting at age 5, Sam's mother would give him a nickel and send him alone to visit the Reading Museum. One day, museum director Dr. Levi Mengel brusquely asked the boy what he was doing. When Sam replied that he was copying down the names of butterflies so he could learn them, Mengel said, "Come with me," and gave the lad a book on butterflies, setting him on a lifetime of natural history. Mengel, and his successor Dr. Earl Poole, took Sam under their wings; he was part of the "Reading Museum Collectors," a group of four nature-mad boys who worked closely with the scientists. As part of the group, Sam visited pre-sanctuary Hawk Mountain to collect dead raptors for specimens. As a science teacher at Reading High School, Sam brought a student named Jim Brett on his first trip to Hawk Mountain; Brett, of course, went on to become curator there. Gundy left his teaching position to become Poole's assistant and after four years took over as director of the museum, a post he held for 10 years. Sam was also a World War II bomber pilot, whose B-17 was shot down over Holland. His back broken and seemingly paralyzed, he was captured and spent 15 months as a prisoner of war before his release. Although he eventually regained his ability to walk, he has carried the chronic pain of those injuries for more than 60 years. In a surprise gesture, Sam and Mary Gundy then presented Schisler with an original painting of an American goldfinch by the late Irma Broun, Maurice Broun's wife. The painting will become part of Hawk Mountain's permanent collection.

Congratulations, Dad, for a most amazing life long contribution to such an incredible nature preserve as Hawk Mountain!
(Photo by long time family friend, Joan Silagy, and article forwarded by her as well)

Back on Gundy Mountain (so called), in Chicken, Alaska, mail was rolling in to congratulate Marilyn on the occasion of her birthday. We've lived in some small towns before but never one where a name and a city and state was enough to have the post master send a personal post it note to let you know you had general delivery mail. How cool is that?


squawmama said...

Hello up there in cold country... Congrats to your dad that is really a great accomplishment... The story about the postmaster was a hoot... How fun is that?

Have fun & Safe Travels

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg,
I want to thank you for sharing your travels on the web, I have been following your travels for the last couple of years and have not wanted to take any of your time before, but now I have a request. I have done something to my computer where I can not see your slide shows and I have called myself looking for a link to your web album but have not been able to find it. If you have no objection, I would appreciate it if you would post a link to your web album, on other blogs I have been able to access the photos from the web album. Thanks for your consideration and a belated happy birthday to Marilyn.
Tom Turner
t_m_turner at

Greg said...

I prefer not to put up an actual link to the photo albums on the blog proper, but assuming you will check back on comments, here is the address to cut and paste as you wish. Thanks for your interest!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, that works like a champ. I really do appreciate it. You can remove the link now if you like.