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no sighting-so. IL birder pasted away

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  • Rhonda (Monroe) Rothrock
    It saddens me to report that Ben Gelman passed away on July 21st at the age of 86. To those who didn t know Ben, Ben was a wonderful person and a great
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2007
      It saddens me to report that Ben Gelman passed away on
      July 21st at the age of 86.

      To those who didn't know Ben, Ben was a wonderful
      person and a great photo-journalist; kind, friendly,
      and non-judgemental. In my opinoin Ben did more to
      introduce the general public in southern Illinois to
      birds and birding than anyone. This he did through
      his weekly column Byline BG that appeared in the
      Southern Illinoisan. Ben would write on what was
      happening at his back yard feeder as well as what took
      place at the yearly Crab Orchard NWR CBC, which he
      compiled for many years then attended as his health
      allowed. He would print the complete list of the
      count's species. He also wrote on other nature
      related topics and on the history of southern
      Illinois. for many publications. Ben was nomination
      for a Pulitzer Prize in the 1960's for a story he
      wrote about the financial scandal surrounding the
      construction of Stone House on SIU campus.

      He began his birding carrier as a child in New York.
      He had a circle of birding friends which included
      Roger Torey Peterson. Ben would go birding all day
      then report back to his brother, Murray Gell-mann (old
      family spelling), of all the great birds he'd seen.
      Ben's father wanted Ben to pursue a degree in
      chemistry but Ben chose to go on an extended birding
      excursion, somewhat simular to what Kenn Kauffman
      later did.

      Although birding is what Ben most enjoyed (Ben wrote,
      "I have often wondered what my life would be like
      without birds, without their bright colors, their
      wonderful ability to fly, their early-morning songs,
      their comforting presence at our backyard feeders. It
      has always seemed to me that an important way to
      protect the birds is to interest as many people as
      possible in their welfare and in conserving their
      habitat.") , a highlight of Ben's life was his trip to
      Stockholm, Sweden, in 1969 to attend the ceremony
      honoring his brother Murray with the Nobel Prize in
      Physics. Ben's book "Bird Watching With Ben",
      published by the SIU Press in 1985, is still available
      through Bookworm in Carbondale. It is a collection of
      some of his birding experiences.

      For a detailed obit. on Ben visit:

      Rhonda Rothrock
      Pomona, Illinois 62975

      Mark your calendar for the
      Birding Fest of Southernmost Illinois
      April 27-29, 2007

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