ill Mattox, 89, a retired arctic geographer and bird of
prey naturalist of Meridian, Idaho, died on March 7,
2020 of natural causes. He wrote this obituary to save
his family, the trouble of doing so. In addition, he
wanted to get it right.
Born Oct. 3, 1930, Phila. PA, attended Cheltenham HS in Elkins
Park, PA. Dartmouth College (AB) 1948-52; Teaching Fellow
at Dartmouth 1952-53; American Summer School, University
of Oslo, Norway, 1953; Uppsala University, Sweden, 1953-54;
University of Iceland 1954-55. Served in US Army 1956-58 in
Stuttgart, Germany where I met and in May 1957 married Joan
(Burkland) of Bothell, Washington, who was working as a secretary
in the Foreign Service at our Consulate General. Our respective
tours ended within a month in early 1958. We drove overland
to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where we arrived in June 1958 by way of
Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and India.
We flew to Hong Kong and then sailed by freighter to Vancouver
BC, then to Seattle. After meeting Joans family in Seattle and
California, we drove in Joans VW Bug, east to my home and then
on to grad school at McGill University, Montreal.
After several field seasons in Ellesmere Island and West Greenland,
I took over as Assistant Professor of Geography and Director of
McGill’s Subarctic Research Laboratory at Scheferville, Quebec.
My term as Lab Director ended autumn 1963; Joan continued her
position as Principal of the Protestant school. Son John Taylor was
born July 1964 amid snow flurries in Scheferville.
I accepted appointment as a Fellow of the Institute for Current
World Affairs, ICWA (New York), which took us to Copenhagen,
Denmark for four years. My main areas of research had me travel
to Newfoundland, West and East Greenland, north Norway,
Spitsbergen, and USSR, with main emphasis on the native fishing
industry of West Greenland. Second son Timothy joined the
family in February 1966.
In 1968, we sailed back to USA, settled in Canaan, NH where I
completed my PhD dissertation for McGill in February 1971.
We added third son Daniel in November 1969. In June 1972 we
moved to Worthington, Ohio. I worked in the Ohio Department
of Natural Resources, Office of Planning and Research 1975- 1992
as Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief, Division of Water. Retired
May 1992.
In June 1972, I established the Greenland Peregrine Falcon Survey,
leading teams to West Greenland each summer until 1998 for the
purpose of locating nest cliffs of this endangered falcon, banding
young, trapping and banding adults, placing satellite and regular
micro-radio tags, collecting falcon eggshells and prey samples, and
monitoring other related field activities.
With wife Joan, established Greenfalk Consultants in1990 to carry
out part of a 6-year field project for the Idaho Army National
Guard in the Snake River Birds of Prey Area (sw Idaho) to
determine the effects of training operations on nesting raptors.
Worked with Idaho Reps and Senators to add the name of Morley
Nelson to the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation
Area. In 1994, with Joan, incorporated the not-for-profit
Conservation Research Foundation to carry out various studies of
raptors in southwest Idaho. Since 1998, with field research partner
James McKinley, collected field data on migrant raptors wintering
in southwest Idaho; banded many adult and young Swainsons
Hawks and Barn Owls; monitored their nests for over 14 years to
record turnover, individual migration, and longevity. I continued
to work up and publish Greenland peregrine falcon data with
my colleagues, as well
as results of the various
raptor studies in southwest
Became a permanent Idaho resident in 1998; lived in southwest
Boise until July 2015, when Joan and I moved to Touchmark at
Meadow Lake Village in Meridian where we enjoyed many new
friends and a wonderful, new retirement life style.
I recently researched and wrote the story of my great-grandfather,
Captain John Taylor, who enlisted in Company E (Scotch Rifles) a
month after the Civil War broke out.
I regretfully leave my wife, Joan, our three sons and their families,
all of who brought such joy and happiness to me. I also leave my
sister Joan (Mattox) Haywood of Massachusetts and her family.
My parents William Gurney Mattox and Helen Taylor Mattox pre-
deceased me. WGM, February 2019.
William “Bill” G. Mattox October 3, 1930 - March 7, 2020
Bill’s life was full of
many accomplishments
in the falconry world.
Donors: Barbara Knight, Joe Terteling, Tom Gossard, Paul Mascuch,
William Satterfield
Surprise 80th birthday at Mark Fuller’s house. L-R: Tom Maechtle, Travis Brooms, Bill Seagar,
Bud Anderson, Tom Cade, Bill Mattox, Taylor Mattox, Tim Mattox, Bob Rosenfield
Greenland trapping 1967
Trapping in the Dry Tortugas, FL
Exactly what sparked Bill’s interest in the sport of falconry is not known.
What is known is that his interest began sometime in his teenage years
and was furthered by his mentorship to and lifelong friendship with Corny
McFadden, a Philadelphia falconer who died too young in 1971.
By the time Bill aended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
1948-1952, he was competent enough to have a bird of his own. Learning
more trapping techniques with other falconers on Assateague was another
major falconry experience he treasured for his lifetime. He became part
of the McFadden – Turner Arctic Expedition for Greenland Gyrfalcons in
August 1951. This arduous, unique, memorable trip cemented his interest
in Greenland, enforced the need for detailed and accurate note taking, and
reinforced his passion for the Peregrine Falcon. The trip also provided a
wealth of information on gyrfalcons. He was allocated one of the eleven
gyrfalcons brought to the States from the trip, which bird soon crashed
through a glass window and escaped from its housing at Dartmouth. Despite
weeks of searching for the bird, it was gone.
During his student days at Oslo
Summer School and Uppsala
University, Sweden, in 1953-
54, his travels allowed him to
meet with Hans Pieters and
wife Cory in The Netherlands.
Corny McFadden befriended Mr. Pieters during WWII. Mr. Pieters was a
Dutch falconer who used his goshawk to provide food for his family during
the war. Bill continued his friendship with Mr. Pieters and was able to visit
him several more times before he passed in 1971.
While a student at the University of Iceland in 1954-55, a photograph of Bill
with a Gyrfalcon on his fist, surrounded by Police is proof he continued his
falconry interests no maer where he was.
Bill’s required military service took him to Stugart, Germany in 1956 where
we met, married, and planned our trip home around the world. Our drive
through Pakistan allowed Bill to meet up with a well-known bell maker in
Lahore and add a few bells to his collection.
Falconry for Bill took a back seat as he completed his PhD from McGill
University in economic geography, worked for the Ohio Department of
Natural Resources, and raised a family. He was able to trap in Greenland
in l967 as a reconnaissance to establishing the Greenland Peregrine Falcon
Survey, which occupied most of his spare time from his day job for 25 years,
1972-97. As much as he would have loved to train and fly birds, he was even
more interested in banding and studying the birds to learn their migratory
paerns, among other things. The data from this research project is
invaluable, plus the project provided opportunities for many falconers to have
a totally unique trapping experience.
He managed in the 80’s to take several trips to the Dry Tortugas for trapping
and banding there, overlapping with Tom Smylie one season.
A research project for the Idaho Army National Guard, found Bill in Boise
heading for retirement. Retirement is relative. He soon teamed with James
McKinley to trap and band hawks and falcons in southwest Idaho for 15 years.
During his lifetime, Bill had an abiding interest in the literature of
Falconry. Over the years he aempted to track all known copies of Traite de
Fauconnerie and le an extensive file on the subject from 1967 – 2016. Living
in Europe provided him with opportunities to scour antique bookstores
for bargains and eventually build quite a collection of books on falconry,
primarily in English. Because Bill had learned several languages for academic
as well as personal reasons, he was able to bring the full brunt of his
knowledge to the editing of John Swi’s Bibliotheca Accipitraria II.
Bill’s popular writing on his work with birds of prey took many forms
from a series of “leers” to his colleagues at The Institute of Current World
Affairs to an article in The American Sportsman. These efforts were besides
contributing to scientific journals and books.
Yes, Bill was dedicated and devoted to all things falconry.
Joan Mattox - Remembers the Falconry portion of the life of Bill Mattox
Bill was dedicated
and devoted to all
things falconry.
Bill with Icelandic police and gyrfalcon, 1953
Trapping in the Dry Tortugas, FL