no sighting-so. IL birder pasted away
- 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
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:
Pomona, Illinois 62975
Mark your calendar for the
Birding Fest of Southernmost Illinois
April 27-29, 2007
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