[CT Birds] Sad News - George Letis

Clay Taylor ctaylor at att.net
Tue Jun 3 08:17:59 EDT 2008

Hi all -

George Letis was one of the outstanding people in CT birding, and as a 
beginner in the mid-70s I would see George and Millie in their Ford station 
wagon at Hammonasset Beach SP and Lighthouse Point.  He was always outgoing, 
greeting both old friends and birding newcomers with the same enthusiasm.

When the Western Grebe was first reported on Oct 30, 1978 in West Haven, I 
got the Telephone Tree Rare Bird Alert call that night.   I was in West 
Haven the next morning at sunrise, and found the bird a few minutes later 
from the end of Brown St..    I took a few lousy long-distance pictures (no 
digiscoping back then!), and then drove down to the gas station on the 
corner to use the pay phone to call some of the names in the NHBS Membership 
book.   George's number was the first one I dialed, and Millie answered the 
phone.   When she told George he yelled loud enough for me to hear "Thanks, 
Clay, we're on the way!"    I used up all my pocket change calling other 
birders (man, how did we ever live without cell phones?) and went back to 
the spot.   Even though a few other birders lived much closer than East 
Haven, the first car to turn the corner was the big ol' Country Squire, and 
George popped out with a huge smile on his face.   Years later, he would 
remind me of that morning.

My one regret is that I failed to speak to George the morning of the 
Calliope Hummingbird at Lighthouse Point.  I was leaving, having to travel 
to the office in RI that day and I saw George driving in the entrance to 
Lighthouse.   I briefly considered turning around, but the timing of my day 
was already shaky, and I kept driving.

I hope that George, Ed Shove and Sal Massotta are sharing some good 
hawkwatching stories up in Heaven.

Clay Taylor
Moodus, CT
ctaylor at att.net

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <jtriana1 at sbcglobal.net>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 7:00 AM
Subject: [CT Birds] Sad News - George Letis

> Folks,
> News came last night that George Letis passed away.  George was a fixture 
> in
> Connecticut birding for more than 40 years.  He and his wife Millie were
> active members of the New Haven Bird Club serving many roles throughout 
> the
> years.  Millie passed away last July.  George served as President from
> 1967-1969.  Among his many accomplishments was turning the Treat Sanctuary
> at Milford Point back into a place that birders could visit.  In the 
> 1960's
> the state rented the building to a gentleman who used it more for a 
> junkyard
> than a nature sanctuary.  The club took out a lease for the sanctuary and
> George went about cleaning the area and making it a welcoming place for
> birders.  George and Millie were both instrumental in the founding of the
> Lighthouse Pt. hawk watch.  Many Christmas Count compilations were held at
> their house in East Haven.  One of his favorite stories was of a Christmas
> count with RT Peterson attending.  Noble Proctor and Davis Finch actually
> caught a King Rail in the marshes near the trolley museum and brought it 
> to
> the house, hiding it in the bathroom.  They ambushed Peterson, asking him 
> if
> it was possible to find a King Rail in CT at this time.  He said no and 
> then
> they showed him the surprise in the tub!
> I lost my note about when the visiting hours and funeral would be.  I know
> it will be at Clancy Funeral House, 43 Kirkham Ave. in East Haven.  I
> believe calling hours will be Wed. night and the funeral on Thursday
> morning.  When I find my note, or get the newspaper, I will send out a
> clarification.
> Thanks,
> JT
> John Triana
> Prospect
> John Triana
> jtriana1 at sbcglobal.net
> "Just take your shoes off and get soulful, ya know?" - Otis Redding
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