Alan Beske, Bill and Pat Burnham, Kent Carnie, Bob
Collins, Janet Collins, Craig Culver, James Enderson,
Walter English, Norval Fairman, Ken Felix, James Fra-
zier, Roy Frock, Robert Glass, Tom Gossard, Charles
Harry, Joachin Hermann, Kent Holland, Cliff Kellogg,
Stephen Layman, Missouri Falconers Associaton,
Marek Plater, Douglas Pineo, Dewey Savell, John Swift
2005 NAFA Journal
NAFA Loses A Champion
— by Ralph Rogers
In the fall of 1938 a Harvard freshman wandered
into the Widener Library in search of ideas for
an English paper. Locating the considerable col-
lection of books on falconry, Samuel Wendell
Williston Shor chose falconry as his theme....fal-
conry captured Will....and our sport had one of its
luckiest moments.
One of life’s truths is that individuals who are
great, are great in all aspects; and so it was with
Will Shor. Will entered Harvard with the Class
of 1938, but by his sophomore year had ac-
cepted an appointment to the Naval Academy in
Annapolis and graduated with the midshipmen
of 1943. Will (aka “Salt Water Willie”), was soon
assigned to the cruiser Chicago during WWII.
When the ship was hit by the Japanese, Will
elected to be the last man on board throwing
wooden barrels off the sinking ship to swimming
sailors unable to launch lifeboats. He left the ship
only after it exceeded the angle at which he com-
puted it would sink.
The Navy sent Will to MIT in 1946 to study naval
architecture and physics, graduating in 1949 with
the newly created degree of nuclear engineer.
By 1952, Will was selected to work for Admiral
Rickover in Connecticut designing and testing
nuclear submarines. The rst and second atomic
submarines (Nautilus and Seawolf) were Will’s
babies. In 1955, in the middle of all of this, Will
reports to his Harvard classmates, “My principal
side interests have been falconry and a little ski-
Falconry had another stroke of luck in 1958 when
Will met and married Joby (Bopp) Shor, who
was teaching psychology at Connecticut College
for Women. By 1963, Will had been transferred
from a successful nuclear program to the Navy’s
failing SONAR program where, under his lead-
ership, disaster was turned to success. For the
1966 Harvard Classmates yearbook Will writes,
“I do not share the common opinion that the
world is in bad shape. On the contrary, I believe
that future generations will look back on this as
the golden age.” He also reports: “My spare time
goes into falconry...and watching my two small
fry get bigger (Peter and Molly).”
Will retired from the Navy in 1973 and worked as
an engineer for Bechtel Corporation in California
until after his 82
birthday. It seems that each
time Will reached mandatory retirement age,
Bechtel changed its policy allowing him to remain
employed. In 1976, Will reports with pride to his
Harvard classmates: “I am the editor of the North
American Falconers Association thrice-yearly
magazine; every few months all of our spare time
goes into editing, typing and, after the printer
gets through, stufng envelopes and getting it
off to the post ofce.” All of Will and Joby’s spare
time went into producing the Hawk Chalk for 30
years (1971-2001). It was always perfect, always
on time, and the entire operation was completed
by hand, a truly amazing tenure of dedica-
tion to our sport and organization. The move to
California, also, allowed Will the time and op-
portunity to y his hawks. In the 1981, Harvard
Anniversary Report, Will reports: “I have a more
successful hunting hawk than I ever had before
– this one took sixty rabbits (mostly big jacks) be-
fore I put him up for the moult last summer.
In June of 1984, all falconers’ lives changed be-
cause of Operation Falcon, but Will, especially,
had a different demeanor and look out of his
eyes when he realized the sport he loved so
much was being attacked by the government he
had served so faithfully (Law Enforcement, US
Fish and Wildlife Service). The warrior in Will
emerged once more and he fought Operation
Falcon calmly and intelligently with his stron-
gest attributes — those being his dedication to
the truth and incredible mind. In the midst of the
violent ood of anti-falconry publicity and exag-
gerated claims of wrongdoing, Will researched,
veried, and published the truth about what U.S.
congressman John Breaux would refer to later in
committee hearings as “this shabby operation.”
I testied for the defense in the only three cases
that actually went to trial and clearly remember
Will had traveled to Montana, correcting each
mis-statement, or spin, or exaggeration Law
Enforcement would attempt to deliver. In each
bloated national Law Enforcement news release,
or interview, or attempt to sway Congress, Will
was always there with the truth and delivered it
together with his research so that our word was
never questioned. Will must have driven Law
Enforcement crazy. He was NAFA’s champion;
he believed that knowledge was power, and he
had all the power when it came to the facts of
Operation Falcon. It is frequently pointed out that
after this attempt to discredit, nancially break,
and nearly destroy us through over regulation,
falconry emerged from Operation Falcon stron-
ger than ever. Well, we cheated. We had Will
on our side. For his 45th Harvard Anniversary
Report, Will writes: “I am now, more than ever,
convinced of the importance of judicial control
for police forces, including the federal game war-
In 1983, Will initiated a raptor-banding program
north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This program
grew into the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory
where, through the years, more than 1000 vol-
unteers have banded about 500 raptors annually
making signicant contributions to the scientic
body of knowledge on raptor migratory behavior.
Of course Will, the engineer, was constantly im-
proving the trapping equipment, and publishing
blueprints for the “new and improved” equipment
in the Hawk Chalk. For the 1991 Harvard Report,
Will says, “I think we are probably living in the
Golden Age, with enough of the wild animals and
open spaces still there to enjoy and at the same
time an unprecedented burst of scientic discov-
ery going on.”
Will’s last report to his Harvard Classmates was
delivered in 2001; he was 81 years old. “Joby
and I are still editing the Hawk Chalk and I am
still working. Also, still banding hawks, and do-
ing research that stems from that work. Catching
hawks is like y shing, but in the air instead of
in the water.” 2001 was, also, the last year that I
saw Will personally, chatting with him and embar-
rassed at my physical conditioning before this
octogenarian who had just returned to the NAFA
Meet headquarters after his morning jog. As a
Board member, I miss seeing Will seated in the
audience rapidly scribing notes during meetings.
I was never sure if light was reecting from his
wonderfully bald pate, or if that incredible brain of
his was radiating its own energy. He was always
there for us and was one of the best we had for
so many years.
Will Shor had degrees from Harvard, MIT, and
Annapolis. Will was a hero, an intellect, and a
man of huge conviction and integrity. He was tru-
ly a Renaissance man from the “greatest genera-
tion.” Anyone, anywhere would have welcomed
Will’s help but he chose us. North American
falconry is enormously lucky, and our sport has
been shaped because Will (and Joby) volun-
teered the greatest of all gifts — their dedicated
Our profoundest thank you to Joby, Peter, and
Molly for sharing Will. His place is empty. We will
always miss him.
Will and Joby Shor