DONORS: The Rogers Family, the Montana Falconers Association, David
Eslicker, Larry and Cynthia Dickerson, Jim Frazier, Tom Coulson, Mike and
Karen Yates, Brian and Susan Millsap, Anonymous Admirer, Bob Collins,
Doug and Trish Pineo, Kent Carnie, Don and Joyce McInturff, Jim and Sheri
Robison, Jonathan Wilde, Blair and Anna Anderson, Alan and Venice Beske,
North American Falconers Association, Robert and Lisa Welle
uring a
in 1966,
barber asked if I
was free for a blind
date. I fell in love
that night, once and
for all. After a year,
we were married
and by then Missi
knew exactly what
she was in for. Our
life included night forays into barns for pigeons or raising
quail in the back bedrooms of old farmhouses, and casting,
handling, and nurturing a variety of falcons. For almost 50
years, we did it all together. In 1976 we hauled everything
we owned to Montana; we had no jobs, no place to live. The
entire episode was fueled by our dream of a better place
to raise kids, share love and confidence in each other. Our
involvement with birds began to direct us, instead of the
other way around. No matter how wild the undertaking,
being with Missi made us feel safe, excited, confident and
appreciated. This was her true gift.
From 1981 through 1999, summers were spent all over
Montana at hack sites. Starting in 1988, the peregrines we
released were bred in our back yard with Missi providing
early hatch care. As Jim Enderson wrote in his book about
the peregrine: “Ralph and Missi’s son, Scott, and daughter,
Andi, knew summertime meant a tent in the wilderness and
the wailing of young falcons learning to care for themselves.
Both children became biologists, she a specialist on releasing
California condors in Arizona, and he working to restore
endangered fish in the Grand Canyon. Missi and I realized
that just as young falcons at hack had to learn to solve
problems and reach independence, so were our kids at hack
learning the same things there in the wildness of Montana.
Taking a break from hack sites, in 1984, and using her best
“tent mom skills, Missi was the cook, doctor, psychologist,
and ambulance driver for the crew that built the P-Fund
facilities in Boise. Just like her relationship with falconry,
she wasn’t out actually driving the nails…her donation was
to make sure everyone else could.
Missi was a NAFA officer from 1997 through 2004. She
effectively co-chaired 6 NAFA meets, including three that
were international. In our recent times she was certainly
one of falconry’s greatest ambassadors attending numerous
IAF meetings and making lasting friendships all over the
world. She will be missed from Argentina to Russia.
In 50 years she had gutted thousands of quail, spent
thousands of hours minding breeding peregrines, stared at
thousands of cliffs for wild peregrines, thrown thousands
of rocks into ponds, or watched grouse flights disappear
in the distance. She never had a falconry license but was
supporting and critiquing falconry flights before most
of today’s falconers were born. Mainly, she lifted us up
when we took ourselves too seriously. Her partnership
with falconry was a huge part of who she was and she gave
massively to this art and the conservation of the resources
we use. Paraphrased from Jim Endersons book: The
Rogers knew that the falcon had given them and their
children opportunities, a sense of purpose, and now feeling
of success in the out-of-doors they simply could not find
anywhere else. I love you Missi.
Missi’s Falconry Story
A lifetime well lived with Birds and Family
by Ralph Rogers
Missi and burrowing owl in 1968
Our life included night forays into
barns for pigeons or raising quail in
the back bedrooms of old farmhouses,
and casting, handling, and nurturing
a variety of falcons. For almost 50
years, we did it all together.
Rogers family hacking Peregrines Red Rocks NWR, 1984
Tipi, ND
Two Toes in Montana, 1977
By Sue Cecchini
Melissa Rogers was simply a force to be reckoned with! She
had a commanding, energetic presence that drew people
to her, and her smile, laughter and zest for life were both
contagious and unparalleled. Melissa was truly a bright and
shining light and the world will be darker without her.
Melissa had a tremendous love for her family, teaching, and
lucky for us, falconry, and she easily combined these passions
into one magnificent life. Ralph brought Melissa into the
world of falconry, and she jumped in with both feet to make
her mark on the falconry community. It’s difficult to think of Ralph without immediately thinking of Melissa;
they were one of those lifelong, soulmate couples who were always there for each other, and Melissa did so
much to support Ralph, falconry, NAFA and the IAF. But she was, also, a very proud mother and gammi who
passionately shared stories of Scott and Andi over the years and who proudly
showed off pictures of her precious grandchildren.
Melissa took charge of family activities at many NAFA Meets, with great
enthusiasm and a smile on her face, even if it were the third time visiting the
same attraction, and if we were at the interactive museum in Amarillo, she
would plop on the floor to play with the kids - she loved being with the kids.
Melissa taught school for decades in Winifred, Montana, but she didn’t just
teach, she learned. I think Melissa took away from her students just as much
as she gave them, which is saying a lot. During many falconry Meets over the
years, one would find Melissa sitting in the lobby reading the latest trending
“young adult” book, not because it was on her top 10 list, but because she
wanted to understand her students just a little bit better by reading what they
were reading. Melissa was one of those teachers that you hold in your heart
forever. And thankfully for everyone in Melissas life, it is safe to say that she
viewed the world with the curiosity and enthusiasm of a young child - the
littlest things could get her so excited. During an IAF meeting in Holland,
Melissa tasted the rainbow sour candy strips that are popular with kids and
she became almost giddy because she had never had them before.
Melissa saw the world as a beautiful, fun and exciting place, and in her memory, hear
her message –
Love and hug your family every day,
even if they leave dead animals in the sink
Fully and completely enjoy the little things in life
Laugh and ll an entire room with your infectious joy
Teach a child to sing and love it, even if they can’t carry a tune
Learn something new today and again tomorrow
Be patient and kind, work hard and leave your mark on this world.
Melissa surely did!
To Melissa - the wonderful
woman who reminded us
that we don’t just need STEM
education, we need STEAM. We
need art in our world to keep
it beautiful! And boy did she
make this world a beautiful
place. Thank you for always
making us laugh and smile and
for sharing your love of life.
Love you for always,
Amelia Cecchini
“Mrs. Rogers had so much love in her, the BEST laugh ever, a ridiculous amount of
energy, and an amazing ability to love so many people and in turn be loved by so many.
She was such a special person and the two of you were a couple that I always looked up
to. You both still looked in each others eyes as if it was still young love....or even better.
Her smile, laugh, and even the sound of her ring tapping on the piano bench to the beat of
the music will never leave our hearts and minds. How lucky we are to have had such a
wonderful person such as she in our lives.
-Sheila (Donsbach) Tesarek
There were literally hundreds of these from past students. Sheila summed
Missi (Mrs. Rogers) up most succinctly.
“This tragedy caused me once again to examine the life of Mrs. Rogers. She knew the
blessed gift of life was...well, a blessing! That’s why she lived each day as an adventure.
She was a teacher...but not just music, English or basic grade school. No. She was a
teacher of LIFE. Even in her death, she teaches me one final lesson: EMBRACE your life,
Mary. GO! Have an adventure! Love with all your heart. Laugh loudly. Dance in front of
people (not just when no one is watching). Sing loud - even if you’re off key! Thank you
Mrs. Rogers....again I say THANK YOU. You have given me my LIFE RESOLUTION”.
-Mary Heller: Another ex-student
Top: Melissa and her son Scott Peregrine hack in Montana.
Bottom: Ralph and Melissa with daughter Andi, taking
young from aggressive falcon Winifred in Montana, 1987