NAFEX Forum, Brandi Quick and Mario Nickerson, Fred Seaman,
Barry Ollette, Cameron Noel, Sharon Hartshorn, Axel Schardt,
Bill Barbour, Chris Lynn, Jeffrey and Vivian Odell, Paul Domski,
Janice Meredith, Ron Clarke, Graham Booth, Kevin Massey, Evert
and Bea Horton, Bob Collins, Mike Craig, Mark Thesing, (INSERT
SANDRA’S BROTHER and his wife), California Hawking Club,
Colorado Hawking Club and Indiana Falconers Association,
wedding anniversary July 14, 2010.
While they dated Sandra frequently accompanied Greg in
the field and was not shy about helping to clean and prepare
the rabbits caught for their supper. Her rabbit, wild rice, and
mushroom soup casserole became a lifelong favorite meal that
was even written about in the local newspaper. Greg knew he
was in love. They married the following July.
Through the years Sandra helped care for Gregs hawks when
he was off selling electronics in Indiana and Kentucky. While
she had a natural affinity for handling and working with hawks,
rearing their two young children and helping with Gregs
parents debilitating illnesses discouraged her from getting her
own bird to fly.
When her children were older, Sandra returned to the
profession she so dearly loved to teach second grade at Stony
Creek Elementary in Noblesville, IN. Beloved and respected by
her students and fellow teachers and staff for her kind, loving,
and inspirational ways, she had fun dressing up in homemade
costumes for holidays and historical characters. She even did
cartwheels in the classroom. Her beautiful singing voice could
often be heard before, during and after class. She also was a
Master Gardener and accomplished knitter. She sang in the
choir, did solos, and taught Bible studies, Sunday school, and
Daily Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church.
In January 2004, Sandra took a leave of absence to fight breast
cancer. As she contemplated recovery after eight months of
painful, debilitating chemotherapy and radiation treatments,
she reluctantly decided to retire from teaching.
Eight weeks later she gave
Greg the surprise of his
life. One October evening
while watching TV
together she poked him
with her left elbow and
said, “I want to fly a bird
with you this year. She
wanted both to spend
more time with Greg
and get back the fitness
that she had lost during
the cancer treatments. It
wasnt long before Sandra
was manning a fresh
trapped passage tiercel
Red-tailed Hawk, which
she christened Jack.
Her teaching skills and
decades of care for Gregs
hawks would prove to serve her well in the training process.
Returning from his visit with lifelong friend Harold Webster
and the 2004 Canadian Falconers Meet in Milk River, Alberta,
Greg found Sandra had Jack readily coming to the fist and lure
and taking the hood well. After a little outdoor creance work,
Jack was ready to fly free and hunt.
Ever the teacher, however, Sandra informed Greg of two
handling protocols she insisted he follow with Jack: Never pick
him up in the mew or while on any perch with food on the
gauntlet, and never throw food to him in the mew or after doing
some kind of work for it.
Sandra had noticed that Gregs birds bated toward him in
anticipation of food. Surprise, surprise. Jack’s razor sharp talons,
perfect plumage, and no bate arc in the ground by his perch
gave testimony that he virtually never bated! Sandras gauntlet
was where his meals were served, and only after he worked for
them. Greg began using these methods with his birds.
Sandra proved as adept and enthusiastic in the field as she did
at basic training. Patient and relentless in her brush beating, she
and Jack partnered to bring 50 rabbits to bag their first season.
Sadly, Jack died suddenly of unknown causes the following year.
Sandra subsequently trapped, flew and released a passage female
Red-tailed Hawk, Bella. She was looking forward to flying a new
tiercel for this year. She was looking forward to trapping and
flying a new tiercel with her mini longhair dachshunds, Marcel
and Millie.
Sandra is survived by her husband, Greg, daughter Sarah
(Adonis) Noguera, son Maththew Thomas, five grandchildren,
Ethan, Chloe, and Noah
Thomas and Isabel and
Gabriel Noguera, three
brothers: Adrian, Jr., Tim,
and Andrew, mother
Isabelle Messer, sister-in law
Kyle (Tim Eiff) Zubatsky,
nephew Max Zubatsky, and
many aunts, uncles, and
cousins. They and friends
who miss her dearly and
appreciated her character,
integrity, talents, love of life,
and ability to bring joy and
happiness to all she knew
can rest easy knowing she is
now home in Heaven where
she can regularly sing a real
Hallelujah Chorus.
By Greg Thomas
Sandra K. Thomas died April 9, 2010 in an automobile crash
outside of Nice, CA that also seriously injured her husband, long
time NAFA member and Director-at-Large Greg Thomas, her
daughter, Sarah (Thomas) Noguera, and her grandson, Gabriel
Noguera. She was a member of NAFA and the Indiana Falconers
Association. During her life she achieved a beautiful balance
between faith, family, and falconry.
She was born to Isabelle Messer in Batesville, IN while her
father, Adrian Messer was off fighting in WWII. He was one of
the brave American soldiers storming Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Sandra and her brother, Adrian, Jr. went to school in rural
Milan, IN. When tiny Milans high school basketball team won
the 1954 Indiana state basketball tournament, she was at their
victory celebration. This was the team that inspired the famous
sports film “Hoosiers.
Sandra studied for her lifelong teaching career at Indiana
Wesleyan and Butler Universities. Greg and Sandra met at
School 65 in Indianapolis in 1972 when Greg’s sister, Kyle, also a
teacher there, introduced them. Greg offered to bring his hawk
to their classrooms for a talk on the upcoming National Wildlife
Day. That was the beginning of their wonderful and lasting
relationship. Sandra and Greg would have celebrated their 37th
Sandra K.
NOVEMBER 1, 1944 - APRIL 9, 2010
Family and iends
appeciated her
character, integrity,
talents, love of life,
and ability to bing joy
and happiness to all
she knew.
Wife, moher, teacher, cancer survivo,
falconcer, gardener and hose lover.