First President of the Potomac Falconers Association
John Earthman, Deborah Heiss, John and Estrid Harrell, Bill and Claire
Harry, S. Kent Carnie, Brian McDonald, Kenny Sterner, Steve Chitty,
Mike and Karen Yates, Bob Collins, Potomac Falconers Association
Steve Gatti
was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area until late in life. He was a cherished father,
husband and friend, and was sales manager in family-founded Atlantic Food Service for 38
years. He served honorably as a Lt. in the USMC during the Korean War, and was a lifelong outdoorsman, conservationist,
fisherman and hunter. The passion of his life was falconry, ignited through boyhood reading. He recruited cousin Brian
McDonald, two years his senior, and they embarked upon a lifelong obsession. At the age of 12 in 1942, Steve (with Brian)
visited Alva (Al) Nye at his home and began a close friendship that would only end with Al’s passing 50 years later. In 1944
at the age of 14, he and Brian took a Greyhound bus to Ocean City, Maryland. Walking the beach at Assateague Island, they
captured their first peregrines. He flew tundra peregrines for many years, but in 1948 also took and flew one of the last eyas
eastern anatum peregrines taken. That bird was from the Harper’s Ferry eyrie, but Steve knew and visited many of the anatum
eyries in their final years, banding one of the last known fledglings in 1951 at Mount Union (PA).
Steve took road trips west with Johnny McCabe and Sydney (Sig) Sigwald to meet Hal Webster, Doc Stabler and Luff Meredith.
He flew tundra peregrines with close friends Sig, Johnny and Al, and later goshawks with Al, Brian, Jim Fox and Kent Carnie,
among others. In 1961 Steve came together with other area notables to form the Potomac Falconers Association, and later
served as its President. That year also marked the first trip of the local goshawk cadre to “Rabbit Island” in the Chesapeake Bay,
where Steves gos more than earned her keep. Steve also served American falconry well as a NAFA Director and Treasurer, and
through Hawk Chalk and Journal articles. In later years he was a supporter of and volunteer at the Archives of Falconry. In 1963
Steve attended the international falconry meet in Austria, connecting with (among other luminaries) Count Umberto Caproni
of Italy. This friendship paved the way for Steve and Al Nye to twice visit Scotland as Umbertos guests to hawk red grouse with
their peregrines.
An ambassador for falconry as well as a practitioner, Steve testified before lawmakers and game officials, winning us allies
through his knowledge, logic and affable nature. He, along with Al and Brian, met in D.C. with Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia
at the request of the U.S. State Department. In his later active falconry years Steve enjoyed the easy pace of hawking cottontails
with Harriss hawks. On retiring to Connecticut he helped in the effort to legalize falconry in the state. When Steve burst on
the scene American falconry was in its infancy. He grew with it, nurturing and helping to build the foundation upon which it
has achieved such worldwide stature. Above all these accomplishments, he deserves to be remembered for his humanity. Those
fortunate enough to know Steve could not have had a kinder, more thoughtful or better friend.
An Ambassador for Falconry
Photo left; Steve Gatti, Mt. Union, PA 5-10-1951
while his accomplishments
included worldwide falconer,
cherished father, husband
and friend, he deserves to be
remembered for his humanity.
Upper right: Peters,Gatti,
McDonald, Oct. 2001
Middle right: Steve in 1948
& 1964
Below: Al Nye and Steve Gatti
Oct. 1964