Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 17th, 2007
Ten Notable 2007 Cryptozoology Deaths
by Loren Coleman, author of the biography, Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology .
Who did we lose this year in the field of cryptozoology?
In 2006, I easily assembled a list of 25 notables, but it is obvious that far fewer people connected to cryptozoology passed away in 2007.
The following is a roundup of ten significant personalities who died this year. It includes two Mystery Cat investigators, two Bigfoot researchers, two cryptofiction authors (one of whom made coelacanth-related findings), three involved in discovering or rediscovering new or formerly extinct species, and one skeptical commentator on cryptozoological subjects.
Death is a milestone. This gathering is given out-of-respect and in celebration of the important works produced by these people.
It is in chronological order, beginning with the year’s most recent death to the earliest.
My condolences to the families and friends of those listed, and much appreciation to those who are now gone, for the many forms of cryptozoology they shared with all of us during their interesting and exciting lives.
In remembrance, for 2007….
1) Dave Hamilton
Dave Hamilton, 52, a longtime wildlife biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, died on September 8, 2007, at his home in Columbia, Missouri. Hamilton researched the question of the reality of mystery feline sightings, especially with regard to whether pumas were reestablished in Missouri. He documented several Missouri physical finds, although he remained doubtful about visual reports of black panthers.
(For a more complete obituary and a photograph of Dave Hamilton, please click here.)
2) Geoffrey Orbell
Geoffrey Orbell, 98, died August 15, 2007, in the southern city of Dunedin, New Zealand. He was a doctor and keen tramper/bush walker/hiker best known for the rediscovery of the rare flightless bird, the Takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri ). The Takahē was widely thought to be extinct in the late 1890s, but Orbell suspected it might have survived. While taking time off from his Invercargill practice to search for the Takahē, he discovered a set of unfamiliar footprints. After following the tracks with three companions he rediscovered the species on November 20, 1948, in a remote valley of the Murchison Mountains near Lake Te Anau.
The Takahē was rediscovered 59 years ago. Photo: New Zealand’s Mount Bruce Organization.
(For a more complete obituary of Geoffrey Orbell, please click here.)
3) Danne D. Buchanan
Bigfoot researcher Danne D. Buchanan, 41, of Fisher, Illinois, was walking south on Boden Road, near Noblesville, Indiana, on August 14, 2007, when he was struck by a truck and killed. Buchanan, known online as “SquatchCommando,” was a Marine Corps veteran who encountered a Bigfoot while on a training mission at Quantico, Virginia. He had begun to appear on radio shows (for example, ”Let’s Talk Bigfoot”) discussing his experience, and his Sasquatch searching.
(For a more complete obituary of Dan Buchanan, please click here.)
4) Sterling E. Lanier
Sterling E. Lanier, 79, author of the cryptofiction-themed Brigadier Ffellowes novels, died in Sarasota, Florida, on June 28, 2007. Lanier trained as an anthropologist-archaeologist, later was an editor at Chilton Books in the 1960s, alongside cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson. Lanier’s most discussed achievement as an editor was the commissioning of Frank Herbert’s popular seminal science fiction work Dune, which had been rejected by many other publishers. In the 1970s, Lanier became part of actual cryptozoology history when he saw in Florida, anomalous large, shiny scales that have been linked to a possible new population of coelacanths in the Gulf of Mexico.
(For a more complete obituary of Sterling E. Lanier, please click here.)
5) Barry L. Beyerstein
On June 25, 2007, Barry L. Beyerstein, 60, a psychology professor at Simon Frasier University, British Columbia, was found dead at his college office desk from a heart attack. Beyerstein, as a leader in the Society of B. C. Skeptics, often commented on Sasquatch, Caddy, and Ogopogo to the media, and taught a course in which he dealt with cryptozoology. In recent years, he called Moody Lake, British Columbia, his home.
(For a more complete obituary and photograph of Barry L. Beyerstein, please click here.)
6) Archie Buckley
The most prominent Bigfooter death of 2007 was an old friend, Archie Buckley, 89, an early member of the Bay Area Group, the Bigfoot researchers of the San Francisco Bay Area. Buckley died on June 18, 2007, in Redding, California, just two months shy of his 90th birthday. In Season 3 of “In Search of” with Leonard Nimoy, Archie appeared with his fellow BAG Bigfooters, in Episode #57, entitled “Monster Hunters,” first aired on November 9, 1978. The documentary television program showed the group searching for Bigfoot in northern California, and Archie became a media star, for one program. He hated the publicity, how they were portrayed, and never appeared in any future Sasquatch documentaries. Archie and members of BAG decided, instead, to quietly continue their close encounter research in the California forests, with no future media attention.
In the group on the left, L to R is George Haas, Rene Dahinden, and Archie Buckley, San Francisco Bay Area, 1975; photo taken by Loren Coleman.
(For a more complete obituary and the other photo in this series, please click here.)
7) Jim Jung
Jim Jung, 54, an Illinois panther researcher and anomaly author passed away on March 15, 2007, in his hometown of Carbondale, Illinois. He had for years gathered information that convinced him that black panthers and eastern cougars lived in Illinois. Jung had just published before he died, Weird Egypt, his special look at the strange phenomena of southern Illinois, in the area north of Cairo called “Egypt.”
(For a more complete obituary and photograph of Jim Jung, please click here.)
8) John E. Heyning
John E. Heyning, 50, discoverer of beaked whales and deputy director of the research and collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, died February 17, 2007, in Torrance, California, after suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease for more than three years. Heyning’s speciality was ziphiids (beaked whales), which make up about a quarter of the whale population. He also discovered that the common dolphin, long believed to be one species, was actually two. At the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Heyning helped establish one of the world’s largest collections of marine mammals (over 4000 specimens).
John Heyning and one of his beaked whales.
(For a more complete obituary and photographs of John E. Heyning, please click here.)
9) David Boynton
On February 10, 2007, one of Hawaii’s most celebrated naturalists, David Boynton, 61, died in a tragic fall while hiking along a cliff trail to his favorite remote Na Pali Coast beach. His body was recovered on February 11th, at the base of a 300-foot cliff on the north face of the Miloli’i Valley wall. Boynton was the creative founder and current director of the Koke’e Discovery Center, a facility in Koke’e State Park. One of his educational tools was an audio recording of the last known ‘o’o ‘a’a (Moho braccatus), an extinct black/gray and yellow Kaua’i forest bird. On Hawaii in the late 1800s, the o’o’a’a bird was very common but had become extinct in recent years. Despite expeditions to relocate the o’o’a’a, none has been seen since 1987. Boynton was a specialist on the bird’s last known habitat, the Alaka’i Swamp. He was always in search of a possible survivor.
The o’o’a’a bird, also called the Kaua`i `O`o.
(For a more complete obituary of David Boynton, please click here.)
10) Richard Horne
The children’s cryptofiction author, Harry Horse, 46, (real name Richard Horne), his dog Roo, other pets, and his ill wife Mandy, 39, all died at Burra, Scotland, on January 9, 2007, victims of an assisted suicide and suicide pact. Horne’s wife had multiple sclerosis and could neither talk nor walk; she had become confined to a wheelchair. Richard Horne, as Harry Horse, was a famed children’s book illustrator, author, and cartoonist of the bizarre Atlantis Rising cartoon series. His first book as an author and artist, The Opopogo – My Journey with the Loch Ness Monster, was published in 1983.
(For a more complete obituary and a photograph of Richard Horne and his dog, please click here.)
Daris R. Swindler
On the first day of 2008, I learned that another individual of significant in hominology had passed away, late in 2007.
Sadly, word reached me of the death of a figure important to the investigation of the Skookum Cast. University of Washington professor emeritus of anthropology, World War II veteran, consummate teacher, and beloved father, husband and friend of cryptozoology, Dr. Daris R. Swindler, 82, had passed away on December 6, 2007, and a memorial service was planned for late January 2008.
For a more complete obituary, see: