By Jeff Broadbent on behalf of the Utah Falconers’ and Raptor Breeders’ Association
(excerpted from the 1995 NAFA Journal)
Eulogies. We have all read them in newspapers and seen them on television. Snapshots, statistics, and sound
bites excerpted from a lifetime, neatly arranged to capture the essence of a lost relative, leader or friend. I never
appreciated how woefully inadequate those excerpts can be.
Gerald Richards was one of the most interesting, colorful falconers I have ever known. Gerald became interested
in falconry at age 8. He used that spark to light his life’s path for the next 50 years. I rst met him at a Utah meet
in 1981. Two rst impressions come to mind: an image of a distinguished man sporting a mischievous smile with
a gleam in his eye, entertaining a crowd of falconers with animated stories and impressions, and, the respect and
admiration for Gerald by his peers. People obviously thought highly of this funny, middle-aged man. Gerald’s wit
and stories are legendary. The word that best describes him is “teacher”.
Gerald studied at Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and the University of Wisconsin. After earning
his M.S. in biology from BYU, he taught in Mexico and Wisconsin. In the late 1970s, he returned to Utah, married
Lavon Young. Their marriage created an instant blended family with ten children. Shortly thereafter, Gerald
developed a “Birds of Prey Show” and went on a lecture circuit. With his knowledge of biology, marvelous sense
of humor, and the magic of free-ying birds, he taught thousands of youngsters to appreciate raptors and their
important role in the natural order.
His leadership, courage, and initiative shaped falconry. A founding member of the Utah Falconers’ and Raptor
Breeders’ Association, he served as club president for
over a decade. He was a man who acted on his principles.
Although he was not wealthy, he challenged the then
prohibition on sale of captive bred raptors. He deliberately
sold captive bred kestrals to USFWS agents in an effort to
establish the right to sell captive bred raptors for falconry.
His defense was expensive and, at the time, unsuccessful.
Years later, the American falconry community beneted from
his vision and initiative. His case served as an important
precedent for those who were ultimately successful in the
effort to legalize sale of captive bred raptors.
Gerald’s more recognized contribution, is the creation of
his dearly loved Sky Trials. He introduced the concept in
1976 and nurtured his creation. The Sky Trials provided a
venue over the years where thousands can glimpse trained
falcons in top form. Gerald was pleased to see similar
events emerge throughout the world. At the event’s 20
Anniversary, UFRBA named the trials the Gerald Richards
Sky Trials in his honor.
DONOR: Utah Falconers’ and Raptor Breeders’ Association
Gerald’s death reminds us to appreciate the
friendships and falconry experiences we
share. I am grateful for the memories and
will never forget Gerald.
– Ken Tuttle
Whenever I think
of Gerald, I smile.
Falconry has lost one
of its most colorful
character. We will
greatly miss him. His
stories and traditions
will live on.
– Dave Jamieson
Portrait of a Master by Hubert Quade given as a gift to Lavon Richards at
the 1995 UFRBA BBQ.
Men like Gerald Richards come
along once in a lifetime. Those of us
fortunate to have known him are richer
for the time we shared.
– Howard Brinkerhoff