Ron and Kristine Clarke, Travis Booms, Thomas Doolittle, Dale Hall,
Dave Loring, Bob Collins, Tim and Colleen Sell, Rich Holmstrom,
Kelly Benedict, Jim Robinson
Vern Seifert, 94, passed away in Anchorage, Alaska on
Saturday, March 23, 2019. Born to German immigrants,
Richard and Martha Seifert in New York City on February
15, 1925, Vern was fascinated by everything that flew.
At age 4, he aspired to be a zeppelin captain. Raised in
the Bronx, he caught ducks along the East River with
Peregrine Falcons he caught from the wild and trained.
After WWII Navy service, he left NYC for Colorado. He
moved to Alaska in 1959. He worked for Jonas Brothers
Taxidermists and was a bush pilot and guide. Traveling
often to Point Hope, he developed a mutual affinity for
the people there, who embraced him as a kindred spirit.
Elders invited him on a whale hunt, and they strongly
influenced his thinking and his art for the rest of his life.
Vern was a painter, sculptor and woodcarver whose totem poles
stand around Anchorage – at the Arctic Roadrunner, the Coast
International Inn, and at 4th Avenue and G Street. His life-sized
Goshawk chasing a mallard took first
honors at his first ever woodcarving
competition. Verns enormous fiberglass
rhinoceros beetle continues to delight
visitors to the May Natural History
Museum in Colorado Springs. He cast an
entire Beluga Whale in plaster of Paris and
molded life-sized replicas which remain
in museums and private collections.
Verns organic understanding of wildlife
led to some of the first-ever captive
breeding of large falcons in captivity.
He understood people too; dead-on accuracy and unflinching
honesty delighted and infuriated his friends. Vern attracted
children whom he lovingly quizzed, amused, instructed and
occasionally terrified. Verns lifelong close friend Debbie dubbed
him “Birdman and neighborhood children called him “Crazy
Wolf. The nicknames stuck and were used affectionately for years.
Vern looked to nature for inspiration for his unconventional
aircraft designs. He flew a Piper J-3 modified to mimic a gyrfalcon
complete with pivoting wingtips. In the early 1960s, he improved
performance of his Taylorcraft L-2 by adding “knuckles - like
tubercles on humpback whale flippers – to the leading edge
of the wings. His advances were recognized decades later by
academics and engineers. Vern flew the L-2 as recently as age 93!
Insatiably curious, Vern fascinated, inspired, and sometimes
frustrated all who entered his orbit. Fiercely independent, he
was unaffected by accolades or criticism. Vern rode his bike
or walked everyday into his 90s. He lived independently until
two weeks before his death in a house he built with materials
salvaged from the 1964 earthquake.
Vern was preceded in death by his parents
and younger brother. He is survived by his
other brother in New York, two nieces, five
nephews, and three grandnieces, cousins in
Germany, his extended Alaska family”, and
many friends, colleagues and admirers.
On the phone with an old friend on what would
be his last birthday, Vern said “We had a good ride
haven’t we? What a wonderful planet we were put
on. The planet will not see another like him.
Vern Seifert
(February 15, 1925 – March 23, 2019)
Vern’s experimental
aircraft 1964
Vern with GHO
and RT,1943
Vern and passage As-
sateague peregrine, 1947
I met Vern in 1985 and he became
my hunting buddy in Anchorage,
Alaska. Vern was born February 15,
1925. He was raised in Brooklyn, New
York, by parents that were German
immigrants, and was introduced to
Falconry by Artie Donahue and Dick
Ryan. Vern was friends with (and
here goes some name dropping)
Dr Klotts, Dr. George Goodwin,
Dr. Robert Stabler, Heinz Meng,
Pete Asborno, Colonel
Richard Graham, Morley
Nelson and many, many
others. I fact when
sharing falconry stories
with Vern he would
volunteer that he was in
the and others” category
and the end of many stories. Vern was
an artist, scientist, aviator, hunting
guide and friend. He was one of the
first to breed large falcons in captivity
and was the first to breed a passage
gyrfalcon in captivity. He was the
grand old falconer of Alaska! Vern
was sent a passage peregrine falcon
from Assateague island, while living
in Colorado and with that bird he
took 30 ducks in 30 days. Their last
day in the field was a warm spring
day and Vern said she went up and
up until she was out of sight. Vern left
the field without a swing of his lure.
My favorite story from Vern was that
during the war, Vern was sitting in
the kitchen in the morning as his
father (a veteran of WW1, and he
fought for the Kaiser) was
reading the newspaper. The
senior Seifert read aloud,
Adolf invades Russia!”
And says, “There Adolf
is making a big mistake!”
With his German accent!
Vern volunteered in 1943 and went
to fighter pilot training where he
washed out, the word was that he
took too many risk. Later Vern
expressed that he was happy he never
had to shoot down and of those boys
or beautiful airplanes. He spent the
war as a spotter in a PBY. Rest In
Peace old friend.
He was the
grand old
falconer of
Vern’s Gos chasing
Mallard took First
Vern was a painter, sculptor and
woodcarver whose totem poles
stand around Anchorage.
Vern’s Totem Pole
carving gyr symbol
Left - Vern in 1968,
and Right- in 1943