John and Vicki Swift
ROY LEE DEWITT came from a time when those interested in acquiring a falcon had to go out and find one. While many aspiring
falconer would travel out to climb cliffs for their bird, this 12-year-old had another approach while growing up in the St. Louis area. He
chopped down a tree to get his first Cooper’s Hawk. Thus began a relationship with falconry that would last his entire life and affect many
“He was a true falconer and did everything he could to promote it, said his friend Larry DeRaps. DeWitt was a well-rounded falconer who
had numerous birds over the years and appreciated the way each bird behaved.
A president of the Georgia Falconry Association for many years, he was respected throughout the state.
“He was delighted to introduce people to the red-tails, and had a beautiful female Goshawk” said friend Bill Mixon. He apprenticed at least
five or six falconers, while sharing his knowledge with anyone who was interested, even producing a video. He always had good word and
good advice and never said a bad word about anyone. He was an excellent mentor. “When he worked with you, you flew the bird well,
Mixon said. “He was one of those guys who made it look easy.
His great dedication to everything he approached made many things look easy. His magnificent pencil drawings of falcons practically look
like black and white photographs. The DVD he produced about the nesting cycle of five species of hawks and an osprey took five years.
Roy was on the football and track teams in high school. Roy was a Pentecostal preacher, an author (“Teaching from the Tabernacle”), a
prison minister and a computer consultant, teacher, and a member of the Potawatomi tribe. While stationed with the Army in Korea, he
met his wife, Suk Cha. They had been married 39 years at the time of his death from cancer.
His daughter, Lydia DeWitt Skordilis, said he was a true multi-task person who grasped things quickly and who put a lot into everything he
did. Many people looked up to him.
Another friend, Alan Drury, said DeWitt was a class-act and a good Christian. He was thoughtful, helpful, knew no enemies, and was
respected in the falconry community from coast to coast. Drury went camping with DeWitt often, and he considered him more a brother
than a friend. He had a personality that made others smile.
“When he would tell a joke, he would start laughing before he got to the punchline, Drury said. “It would take a while to get to the end of
“He was delighted to
introduce people to
the red-tails, and had
a beautiful female
-friend Bill Mixon
the joke.
Despite all his other interests, much of his life still centered around
“He was like a hero to the falconry association, said his daughter,
who describes him as very popular, outgoing and very accepting of
others. He certainly would accept plenty of birds around the house,
too. “He had a nice set-up for his birds. It took a lot of our backyard,
Lydia said. “Sometimes he would keep some of his birds in the house.
And we had a freezer full of chicken legs. I’ve never seen so many
chicken legs in my life.
Falconry was her dad’s natural high.
And as for visions, its not hard to picture him at another activity —
car hawking — driving down the road with a kestrel on the steering
wheel on the hunt for sparrows or starlings.
He will long be remembered.
“I consider myself to be a much better person for knowing him.
Drury said.
— Reminiscences: Larry DeRaps, Lydia DeWitt Skordilis, Bill Mixon
and Alan Drury
of falcons
look like black
and white
Roy with one of the many Coopers he loved to sketch.
Turn back the clock. Not too far. The first weekend in August
2002 to be exact. For the first time in almost a decade I
made the short drive down south of the city to the Atlanta
Buckarama. It was there that I first met Roy. Fortunately
for me (maybe not so much for him), I found out that this
president of this Georgia Falconry Association lived less
than five miles from my home in Marietta. From the very
beginning this man “took me under his wing”. He had seen
many people approach this falconry madness and turn away
from its commitment and passion. Perhaps in me he saw
potential through all the ignorance. Whatever it was, I owe
this man for my adventure into this truly addicting sport
we all know and love. Because of Roy Dewitt, I have had
opportunities in this crazy world of raptors to see things
and meet people that have enhanced and improved my very
existence. Quite honestly, I’m sure that I am not alone in
that regard. Roy’s influence and expertise in the falconry
community spreads wide over our country, but he has had
profound influence here in our great state. Many many men
& women over the past years have come under the watchful
eye and steady supervision of this man. We are all better
falconers because of him. Personally, it goes way beyond our
sport. Roy is my friend and my brother in Christ. I will be
eternally grateful for his example, his wit ness, his leadership.
Today we celebrate the life of our fellow falconer and friend.
The board of directors of the Georgia Falconry Association
proudly dedicate this Darter to Roy Lee Dewitt.
by Buster Brown
Roy and his
wife Suk Cha
enjoyed 39 years
of marriage.