James and Lucille Badura, Bob Collins, Patricia Czachowski, Marcia
Dunn, Great Lakes Falconers Association, Robin Guy, Linda Knight
and Rogelio Solis, Bonnie Masterman, Steve Myers, Kathleen Wolf
by Bob Collins
On September 18, 2007, longtime
NAFA member Jerry Holzer, 77, of
Barrington, Illinois passed away
following a long illness. He was the
beloved husband of Mary Ann Holzer.
Jerry was one of NAFA's earliest
members, a past-president of the Great
Lakes Falconer's Association, a mentor,
sponsor, counselor, advisor, and friend
to numerous falconers over the years.
He was a retired high school biology
teacher, an avid outdoors-man and
environmentalist, beekeeper and
private pilot. He was devoted to his
horses and dogs. In falconry circles,
Jerry was known for flying redtails and
great horned owls at game with great
success without fanfare.
In the late 60's and early 70's, Jerry's
owls and beagles were a combination
years ahead of the times. Before
captive breeding became routine,
Jerry's consistent success at breeding
great horned owls in the basement of
his apartment building while living in
Chicago is testament to a triumph of
the human spirit, his creativity and
determination. Stories of Jerry's hu-
morous breeding owl anecdotes and
cemetery hawking are legendary. A
scientist to the end, Jerry donated his
body to the Anatomical Gift Association
of Illinois and requested that no
services be held.
Jerry will be greatly missed. Jerry's
name will be added to the Archives of
Falconry's Wall of Remembrance.
Anyone wishing to submit a
"Remembering Jerry" story or
photograph is welcome to send one to
the Archives.
If anyone wishes to make a charitable
donation in Jerry's memory, please
consider: The Peregrine Fund, Attn:
TAF, 5668 W. Flying Hawk Lane,
Boise, Idaho 83709; Hoved Animal
Rescue Society, PO Box 94,
Barrington, Illinois 60011; or,
Chicagoland Shepard Rescue, 2116 N.
Sawyer, Chicago, Illinois 60647.
Hawk Chalk Vol. XLVI No.3 - December 2007
Jerry and Bunny Holtzer with their captive-bred owls, ca. 1976.
Thoughts from family and friends:
What more could a wife ask for! A fledgling Great
Horned Owl sitting in the middle of our dining
room table, shaking downy dander everywhere and
panting the foulest breath imaginable. Promptly
named Winky, he was my instant and unforgettable
introduction to proud, historic world of falconry.
Clumsy and curious, clown and cutie, he perched
in our “adjusted” bathtub – showering with us,
watching TV, demolishing a carrot cake or two,
gaining valuable flight experience from the top of
curio cabinet. Even earning a degree in “wisdom”
at the high school where Jerry taught. But
somehow along the way, he grew into a handsome
and formidable hunter, supplying us with many
delicious rabbit and pheasant dinners.
A special thrill for Jerry was his Great Horned
Owl breeding program, of which Winky was
the foundation “stud”! Jerry was a pioneer in
successful Great Horned Owl captive breeding and
Winky’s offspring were scattered throughout the
In addition to Winky, our apartment was home to
many transient birds of prey. Many Great Horned
Owls of course, plus a Snowy Owl, Sparrow
hawk, Sharpshin, and Redtails. My freezer was
full of rats and our lives revolved around falconry
meetings, game dinners, annual meets, demo
flights, and a world of new adventures and friends
(many of them feathered!). Jerry was so proud
and honored to be elected president of the Great
Lakes Falconer’s Association and worked tirelessly
to help the club and falconry grow. But, falconry
was not his only passion. He was an avid hunter,
fisherman, and environmentalist. Our move to
the country enabled us to breed, train, and ride
Arabian and Paso Fino horses, rescue dogs and
cats, and help me train and show my champion
Doberman in obedience, agility, and tracking.
Most of all, Jerry was the kindest, gentlest and
caring person in the world. He thoroughly enjoyed
people from all walks of life – listening, laughing
and learning from them. He was always ready to
help anyone and everyone, from a biology student
or apprentice falconer to a lost traveler or a friend
needing a ride. He was dedicated to preserving,
protecting and loving nature and all her animals,
birds and plants. He never ceased to be thrilled
at a hawk flying overhead, the chatter of baby
raccoons, the discovery of a new plant, or a swarm
of bees.
Jerry was my beloved husband who filled each day
with absolute joy for almost 42 years. My eternal
love and gratitude.
Did I ever tell you, you are my hero –
Everything I ever hoped to be.
I can fly higher than an eagle –
You are the wind beneath my wings.
Your Bunny (Mary Ann Holzer)
I’ll always remember Jerry’s easy manner, his
gentleness, his wry sense of humor, and of course,
his love of all the creatures on earth.
— Love, Jeanie
My most vivid memory of Jerry goes back to a
family gathering when I was a teenager. Unlike any
other adult there, he engaged me in conversation.
It doesn’t sound so extraordinary as I tell you
about it here, but it made a big difference to me
then to be caringly acknowledged.
— Love, Nancy
I reflect upon many inquisitive and just fun
conversations with Jerry. Jerry was a strong man
who modeled a humble heart for the rest of us. On
a regular basis, I use his salutation of “Catch you
down the road”...and his advice of “All things in
— Per
He lived in a house set back from the road, like
Snow White’s cottage, a home set in nature. … a
man with a twinkle in his eye – a curious mind and
a naturalist’s heart. A generous man, sharing his
life’s joys, his fishing, his bees. A man who loved
falcons and sat with his dog by his side. A man who
loved his wife – cherished and respected his wife.
A man, who even in ill health, could make a new
friend with one sentence. Dear Jerry, we did not
have long enough, but long enough to love you.
— A friend.
Jerry Holzer was a naturalist with a curious
mind. He was a man who loved the earth and its
creatures. He was a man with a twinkle in his eye.
Jerry wanted to share his love of beekeeping with a
novice. I am honored to have this good man’s veil,
smoker, and journal. I asked Jerry about a page in
his journal where he wrote “the bees were vicious
today”. He roared with laughter as he said “I must
have been stung that day!” Jerry taught me about
building hive bodies and queen pheromones.
How he longed for one more chance to capture a
swarm. Jerry was a man who was always teaching,
always learning, and always up for the next
adventure. Jerry Holzer was my friend.
— Respectfully, Gail Myers
(When we last met)…you said you wished that you
had someone you could pass on things to. Jerry, I
don’t know why it didn’t hit me when you told me
this, but I want you to know that you already have.
You have passed on so much knowledge about
and appreciation of biology, dogs, horses, and
owls…to literally hundreds of your students. When
I talk to fellow Glenbrook North (high school)
alums, they all remember you, and I don’t know
of anyone who didn’t have anything but good stuff
to say about your class. You taught a class that
was nothing like anyone had experienced in the
past…You gave us freedom to move around and
learn from you and others in the class…learning
from you was easy because you had such passion
for what you taught. You passed on your love
for nature to me and an uncountable number of
students. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be doing
what I am doing now without your influence! ..not
too long ago, you gave me a copy of my honors
biology research paper. You actually kept it all
these years! That is a treasure to me as I lost all my
papers in a flood…”The effect of radiation on fruit
flies”…Jerry, you started me out as a toxicologist
and I remained one after 35 years! That is a gift
that can never be forgotten! … You passed on to
me, and now my kids, the phrase “press on”. Silly
as that sounds, it is part of our family vocabulary.
… I would not be where I am without your
direction, guidance and hard work…you shaped
my life.
— Love, Robin
L to R: Don Cronin, Bob Collins, and
Jerry, their former high school teach-
er. Since 1961, life-long friends and
falconers. Photo taken May 1990.