Dave Noble, Donna Morris John Gilbert, Bob Collins, Lee Worrell, Amanda Morgan,
Sheldon Nicolle, Deanna Curtis, Bill Huseth, Crystal Noble, Robert Thomson, David
Campbell, Ben Ohlander, Kurt Haase, Betty Haase, Eric Ratering, Bill Oakes, Jonathan
Wilde, Alan and Venice Beske, North American Falconers’ Association.
He was truly
a natural with
hawks, falcons
and dogs.
> John won the falconry
division in 1974 at the
NAFA meet in Yankton,
South Dakota flying a
chamber raised prarie
falcon named Mariah.
ohn was my
next oldest
sibling and one
of 11 Noble
family children.
Born on September 13
1952, he was 3rd oldest
and the last of the 5th
generation born on
the original homestead
farm in Racine county
Wisconsin. Just before
I was born we moved
to the small nearby
town of Waterford
where we finished high
school together in 1972.
Our falconry officially
started there just before graduation when we received our first permits.
John was remarkable in many ways, not the least of
which is that he practiced falconry of a high degree
for 31 years while legally blind.
5 of the 11 siblings have what
is known as Stargardts disease. It is also known as juvenile macular
degeneration because of its insidious nature of destroying the macula
and therefore the central vision in children starting at about age 6.
Imagine using only your peripheral vision to see the world and with
no correction available. Just in case you are wondering, my eyesight is
very good. I was about to say that I am one of the lucky ones but on
reflection, perhaps some of Johns best qualities were born of his so
called handicap? He had what I can only describe as a photographic
memory. He seemed to retain everything he took in. Reading was
extremely difficult for him but in college he was fortunate enough to
have volunteer readers who read his textbooks and assignments to him
aloud. How would you do if you had to have someone read everything
to you? John got nearly straight As through college. He finished a
bachelor of science with a major in psychology at the University of
Wisconsin-Whitewater. Perhaps also, his warm and jovial personality
developed from his codependency on others? It seemed to me that
John attracted friends like
blossoms attract bees.
One bit of trivia that gained
him early notoriety was his
winning the falcon division
in 1974 at the last competitive
NAFA meet held in Yankton
South Dakota. He was
flying his first longwing,
a captive bred, chamber
raised prairie falcon named
Mariah. Mariah took 6 pheasants there, 4 of which were taken in a
single flight with a caravan of witnesses in attendance. Upon being
cleanly dispatched with a headshot, the pheasants disappeared in the
snow, at which time Mariah would remount for another shot. Several
witnesses claimed that many more were taken but just could not be
located in the deep snow.
The falconry bug bit him hard and from his beginning he was never
again without at least one falconry bird and pointing dog trained by
his own hands. He was truly a natural with hawks, falcons and dogs.
Falconry was a lifestyle for him and in 1983 he sought out a job in
South Dakota, moving there with his beloved wife Christine. The
wide open spaces and quarry needed to fly his favored longwings
were found there. His last 20 years were spent there in a career as
a Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of South Dakota, most
while working at the school for the Blind and Visually Impaired in
Many people probably don’t know that my bell making was spawned by
his encouragement and need for bells. With his visual deficit, bells were
an invaluable aid and he was my primary tester as I perfected my bell
As a brother, he was the best anyone could ever wish for. Besides me
visiting him as often as possible, we spent many long hours on the
phone sharing hawking stories and life lessons. Something that still
brings a tear to my eyes is that in all of our phone conversations I never
once remember him initiating an end to a phone call. He always waited
until I was finished talking. It was always me, ‘the busy one that had
to end the call. His cancer came and went for several years. It finally
took him on September 9, 2003. I never once heard him complain in
any way. Right to the end, whenever I asked him how he was feeling,
he would say “Great”. If I had to put it into a single word, that is how I
would describe John.