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FWD: OBOL: Craig Roberts: A Summary of his life

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  • Birders2@aol.com
    Dear All, This morning I have taken a little time to reflect on Craig Roberts life as one of his friends and as a fellow birder and have written the following
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2003
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      Dear All,
      This morning I have taken a little time to reflect on Craig Roberts' life
      as one of his friends and as a fellow birder and have written the following
      summary about him. I have incorporated what I know about him and have tried
      to weave into this account various comments that others have posted on OBOL
      about him in the past day. This is simply a rough draft, but perhaps a more
      polished version of this summary could be published in Oregon Birds at some
      point. I will probably need to verify some of these details with his wife
      at some point, but I believe that this summary is for the most part accurate
      based on what I know at this time. I would be interested in hearing from
      anyone who can offer suggestions to help improve this summary in any way.
      Tim Janzen

      Craig Roberts, a longstanding member of the Oregon birding community, died
      December 27, 2003 shortly after a tragic automobile accident on Highway 6 in
      eastern Tillamook County. Craig and his family were returning to Tillamook
      after his son had been in a Portland Youth Philharmonic concert when their
      minivan was struck head on by a pickup. Craig was only 4 days short of his
      47th birthday at the time of his death.
      Craig grew up in Central Point, Oregon where his father was a family
      practice doctor. Craig showed an interest in birds at an early age and by
      the time he was 12 he was a serious local birder. Dave Irons, a Eugene
      birder, recalls that Craig was co-leading Rogue Valley birding trips for the
      Portland Audubon Society with Otis Swisher as early 1971. After graduating
      from high school Craig went to George Fox College (now George Fox
      University) in Newberg where he graduated with a biology degree in 1979. In
      true fashion for a birder, Craig proposed to his future wife Chris by
      showing her a rare "bird" in the spotting scope at one of their favorite
      birding locations that was in actually a sign on a distant hillside that
      read: "Will you marry me?"
      Following his graduation from George Fox College Craig went to George
      Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri where he received his
      medical degree in 1983. He then went to Spokane, Washington were he
      completed a three-year residency in family practice medicine in 1986. Craig
      then joined a family practice group in Prosser, Washington where he
      practiced until 1991 when he moved to Tillamook, Oregon to work as an
      emergency room physician for the Tillamook, Hospital.
      I first met Craig in 1979 at George Fox College when I was a freshman
      and we have birded together in Arizona and here in Oregon over the years.
      When I was in the planning stages of a birding trip to California in 1984
      Craig sent me a detailed 6-page letter outlining locations where I could go
      to see the specialty birds I was hoping to see there. This was typical of
      Craig, who always seemed to be willing to go above and beyond the call of
      duty to help other birders no matter what their level of expertise was.
      While Craig did do quite a bit of birding in Oregon over the years, he
      never pursued bird listing in Oregon and was instead much more focused on
      developing his ABA list. He has been birding all over North America. At
      the time of his death he had a North American ABA area list of over 800.
      Even though Craig had an extensive life list he never seemed to be
      egotistical about this. He always seemed more interested in helping other
      birders develop their skills and in making sure that they got to see the
      birds that they wanted to see than he was interested in pursuing his own
      Craig’s knowledge of North American birds was encyclopedic. He was
      especially well informed about the status of rare ABA area bird records.
      Craig loved to teach others about bird identification and led field trips
      for Tillamook Community College. Tillamook area birders affectionately
      named their birding club after him as the Tillamook "CRABS" (the Craig
      Roberts Area Birding Society). He also helped lead bird trips to Attu for
      Attours and went to Attu about 6 times. In addition, Craig was a member of
      the birding team that set the Oregon Big Day record of 216 species in 2002.
      As a member of the Oregon Bird Records Committee since 1993 Craig brought
      an ABA area perspective to the committee that was very helpful. He took his
      work on the committee very seriously and wanted to make sure that a high
      standard was met before he voted to accept a record. As fellow committee
      member Jeff Gilligan has said: "Craig was detailed, knowledgeable, and
      brought an honest element of skepticism to the committee. He was about the
      hardest person on the committee to convince regarding the acceptability of a
      record, but his views were always rational. He never was mean spirited. He
      was consistently polite and considerate of others." Another committee
      member Gerard Lillie mentioned the following: "I always looked forward to
      hearing and reading Craig’s opinions on records in circulation. His
      comments on records that circulated through the committee were always well
      researched and informed." David Bailey provided these additional insights:
      "Craig provided a perspective that will be very hard to duplicate. He was
      supportive, encouraging, knowledgeable, and kind." Tom Crabtree had this to
      say about Craig: "Craig Roberts was an exceptional birder and an even
      better human being. He was passionate about birds and life in general. He
      got us to look at things in a different way many times over the years. His
      comments were incisive and always offered in a manner that insured no one
      would be offended. He always made the rest of us work harder to be able to
      justify our positions - in a positive way."
      Certainly Craig’s involvement in the 2003 ABA Convention in Eugene was as
      the field trip coordinator was among his most significant contributions to
      the birding community in recent years. Dave Irons provided these thoughts:
      "His contribution to the success of the convention was immeasurable. He
      spent hundreds of hours making phone calls, sending E-mails, and personally
      scouting each and every trip route." He earned the respect of the trip
      leaders by seemingly having every detail for all the trips carefully planned
      out. He truly wanted to make sure that every birder who came to the
      convention got to see every bird species that they were hoping to see.
      In addition to being an outstanding birder, he also was a very good father
      to his children and was highly involved in his family’s activities. He and
      his family are members of the Netarts Friends Church and he comes from
      generations of Quaker stock. He leaves behind a wonderful wife Chris and 3
      children: Jonathan, Mark, and Rebecca. We will all miss him. May we
      continue to emulate his dedication to excellence in all we do.

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