Friday, June 05, 2009

OBT: Ed Kutac

really hard news . . . Ed was one of my first mentors, and he exemplified that honorific in all its myriad positive ways . . . i haven't seen him in a long, long time, but my memories of him are crystal clear . . .

Austin American Statesman
Edward A. Kutac, Jr.

Edward August Kutac, Jr. of Amarillo passed away June 3, 2009 in Amarillo. A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Amarillo, June 8 at 11:00 a.m. Arrangements are by Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 South Georgia. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Travis Audubon Society, 3710 Cedar Street, Box 5, Austin, TX 78705 where he was a long-time member. Please sign our online guestbook at

Amarillo Globe-News
Edward A. Kutac Jr.
Edward A. Kutac Jr., 87, of Amarillo died Wednesday, June 3, 2009.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Mary's Catholic Church with Monsignor Harold Waldow as celebrant. Arrangements are by Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 S. Georgia St.

Ed was born April 17, 1922, in Yoakum, the son of Edward August Kutac and Albina Lanik Kutac. He served in the Navy, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and then married Amy Smith.

A longtime resident of Austin, Ed was active in a wide array of civic, environmental and birding organizations. He was an Optimist and a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus while living there. An avid and active birder, Ed was president of both Travis Audubon Society and the Texas Ornithological Society, and served on the boards of both organizations for many years. Countless birders took his classes, participated in his bird trips, and learned the joys and delights of birding and the natural world from his endeavors. He authored two books on birding, "Birder's Guide to Texas" and "A Bird Finding and Naturalist's Guide for the Austin, Texas, Area" with Chris Caran. He was instrumental in negotiating the acquisition of the Travis Audubon Preserve, and as a member of the Nature Conservancy Board, helped shepherd the designation and acquisition of Big Thicket Preserve, precursor to Big Thicket National Park.

After moving to Amarillo 15 years ago, he joined the Panhandle Bird Club, which he enjoyed tremendously, until he could no longer go birding. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He gave a wonderful example of giving of himself to his family, his church and his community. He will be missed.

The family would like to express their deep appreciation to BSA Hospice for their love and support, and to the staff of the Texas State Veteran's Home.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Josephine Faubion.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Amy; three daughters, Mary Irish and husband Gary of Scottsdale, Ariz., Anne Jones and husband Darrell of Fredericksburg and Lucy Jalbert and husband Richard of Amarillo; three grandsons, Travis Jones of Grand Prairie, Luke Jalbert and wife Christy and their sons, Ryan and Steven of Amarillo, and Mark Jalbert of Austin; two sisters, Ethel Kutac and Evelyn Monnich, both of Austin; and 11 nephews and nieces and their children.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be to Travis Audubon Society, 3710 Cedar St., Box 5, Austin, TX 78705; Panhandle Bird Club,; or Building Fund, St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1200 S. Washington St., Amarillo, TX 79102.

Visitation will be at 7 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home Brentwood Chapel.

Sign the online guest book at

Amarillo Globe-News, June 5, 2009

Some reminiscences from the TexBirds ListServ:

The thing about Ed Kutac..

...was that he was cool. I have been looking at birds all my life. I started keeping little list of birds around 1962 as a pre-teen. Outside of my family I knew no one that was a birder per se and had never seen one in action. Around '68 or so, when I could drive, I drove quite a ways to get to a Tarrant Co. Audubon Society meeting held down by the botanical gardens as I recall. About 15 folks were there and they were all very nice to me but for a guy not even twenty it was soooo boring and I could not wait to get out the door. All the folks there could have been my grandparents. I was not only disappointed but frankly a little repelled by the thought that I had the same interests as these old strange people and a felt perhaps bit ashamed . I went back to closet where I remained for a number of years. I was in my early 20's when I met Ed. I was a serious hippy and was frankly a case (as if anything ever changes). I do not remember exactly how I met Ed but he was a hit with me from that first meeting. He was the first birder that I ever met that was "cool" with his longish hair, beard, funky hat, the pipe and the Volkswagen camper all impressed me as did his encyclopedic knowledge about birds and other aspects of the central Texas flora and fauna. Sometime but not long after I met him that VW van and all of the precious items he carried around in it burned at Platt's Ponds. Literally it burned down to nothing except rims and an engine block. Thus making it another early bit of Hornsby history. I do not pass that spot without recalling this incident. I remained a bit aloof even after meeting Ed, though I would often see other birders, including a few times Kincaid whom I knew nothing about at the time..(who else would bird in August in a white shirt and tie then ) . . . Like Charles, I too went to the bird records committee meetings at Ed's at times though perhaps later after I finally gave into being a birder. I can honestly blame Ed for all of it and the continued passion.

Then this fellow named Glenn Perrigo moved to town and we ran into each other at Platt's, and for sure after that there was no hope for me. Birding became an issue. We birded constantly ....Lived at Hornsby (Platt's and the old Williamson Creek WWTPs ....We drove very early one morning all the way to Eagle Lake from Austin to see a Ross' s Goose!. We don't have those any more do we?

I called Ed when he was still living at home maybe 2-2.5 of years ago and despite his health issues, he remembered in great detail things that I had so long ago forgotten. In particular a Travis Audubon Birdathon we were together on. We were at the old low water bridge below Mansfield Dam, he could still remember the birds we had there some 24-25 years earlier! Best of those were the Rock Wrens found in the rip-rap. below the dam..... just one of the 5 wren species we had there that day. He remembered this. He was an amazing person

Brush Freeman
Utley, Bastrop County

I'm glad you posted this. I was not a part of the early Austin birding scene, having come of age in Houston and Liberty County in the early 70s, but I first met Ed Kutac a very long time ago, probably around 1980 or so. I would only see him intermittently but he never forgot my name. It was always like we were old friends whenever we'd meet up. I still cherish my original signed copy of his first-edition Texas birding guide. I really love his dear sister too, Ethel Kutac, who became my friend when Jesse Fagan and I led a pineywoods breeding warbler trip for TOS about five years ago. Ethel and all the family should know that Ed will be sorely missed and remembered very fondly by a generation+ of Texas birders. BTW, I forwarded Brush's original post to Debi Shearwater in California. At one time Debi lived in Copperas Cove (Coryell County) and mentored very early with Ed Kutac. She's told me stories about those Austin-area check-list meetings, or parties, at Ed's house way back when. From what she said, Ed was the driving force behind the check-list in those days and figured prominently in building the foundation for our current exemplary Austin-area check-list.

It's been several years since Ed and I crossed paths, but like Brush and others, I'm very saddened today. We've lost a truly amazing and generous person.

Randy Pinkston
Temple, Bell County

oh this is really hard news . . . Ed was one of my first and most cherished mentors, and he exemplified that honorific in all its myriad positive ways . . . i haven't seen him in a long, long time, but my memories of him are crystal clear . . . the day i met him he took me to Cat Mountain to see a Black-capped Vireo on its nest, a huge bird for me at the time . . . i have a lot of pics of those days . . .

thanks for the note Brush

tony gallucci
ingram/kerrville, kerr county

Ed was certainly a Texas icon. Strangely I cannot remember when we met. It was maybe at TOS in 1971? Or maybe 1970? Anyway, what I always enjoyed most about Ed was his story telling ability. He would tell about some long ago birding trip and I could see those birds. As it turned out, once I was telling him he was the second-best storyteller I ever heard because he couldn't tell a tale near as good as a business-friend in Houston. He was a bit embarrassed but appreciated my compliment and said he wasn't even the best story teller in his family. His brother-in-law, a fellow named Curtis Ward, was far superior. I almost fell over, Curtis Ward was my friend in Houston who was the best story-teller I ever heard! Ed and I always seemed to agree about most things and though I infrequently saw him, we had a good friendship for more than thirty years.

Ed and I lost Curtis many years ago. Now we have all lost Ed. Texas birding folklore lost one of its masters. I will miss him.

Fred Collins
Katy, Harris County

The thing about Ed Kutac . . .

....was those horrid sardine sandwiches he always brought on birding trips, that you could smell a mile away. He showed Jan and I a ton of birds. He (and Keith) made TOS a lot of money, investing our Life Membership Funds. We were most fortunate to have known Ed for many years. Ethyl and his family are in our thoughts.

David Dauphin
Mission, Hidalgo County

I would be remiss if I did not mention the value of Ed Kutac to my birding life; if for no one else, at least for Ethel. My first contact with Ed and with TOS was at an annual meeting of TOS held in Uvalde. I had the pleasure of developing the program and bird list with Ed. From that time on Ed addressed me as a fellow birder although he knew more about birds than I would ever know.

When Ed moved from Austin to Amarillo it was a blessing in disguise since I had a daughter that had moved up there too. Consequently, whenever I visited her it gave me the opportunity to touch base with Ed again. He always had time to do a little birding. It did not take him long to find out where the good birding sites were. I could always count on seeing two species which I might not see elsewhere during the year: Burrowing Owl and Mississippi Kite. My daughter eventually moved to Flower Mound so I lost my contact with Ed and these two birds. But I'll miss his company, wisdom and humility more than seeing the owl and the kite.

Lytle Blankenship
Kerrville, Kerr County

John and I lived near Ed and his family from 1958 to 1968 and somewhere during that time I attended my first Travis Audubon field trip, where I was in a car with Ed and his good friend John White.

On many weekends for maybe ten years following, my Saturday mornings were scheduled to go birding with those two and whomever Ed happened to invite. The Saturday group had many trips in the VW that eventually burned and I met most of the active local birders on those days. Later, I learned Ed really did not prefer to do the driving and I became the weekend driver about 1970.

Eventually, John Ribble had to give up Sunday golf and weekend birding became a two car thing. We were joined by Ralph Clearman and his sons, or sometimes Charles Easley, and finally Willie Sekula.

Ed became the President of Travis Audubon and I was his secretary, then when he was President of T.O.S. I served as Recording Secretary and Treasurer in charge of membership roles.(Someone else handled money management and expenditures.)

Probably my most interesting cooperative project with Ed was the local Christmas Counts. Ed did the planning and assignment of personnel and I compiled the report after the big day and sent it in. When he wrote his first book, he had me go over it and make suggestions before he signed off on it. That was pretty exciting, too.

I went to Bird Records at the Kutacs' for several years and also hosted it at my house when I was chairman for a while. Those huge meetings were the glue to keeping us all together, I think. We enjoyed Mary and Anne and Lucy during their birding days and the Kutacs even let us decorate for a wedding with some of the hibiscus we were growing then.

It was a great privilege to have been part of Ed's weekend crowd, and a contributor to some of the important projects Ed undertook. He contributed a lot to making me the person I am today.

It was sad for us when he and Amy left for the Panhandle, and sad news indeed that he is now gone.

Barbara Ribble
Austin, Travis County

Sad news this AM. I moved to the Austin area, Nameless Road near Jonestown, in 1976. NO ONE, had a greater influence on my understanding of birds than Ed Kutac. I would go to his house for the Bird Records meeting. There I met John and Barbara Ribble, Greg Lasley, Chuck Sexton, Ethel Kutac his sister, Charles Alexander, John Sunder and many more. The way in which he kept records and his knowledge of Travis County birds and thier movements was un-matched. How well I remember him coming to my house to look for wintering Porwill's, which we found. You could call him any time and he would give you as much time as you needed to understand any question on many aspects of nature. He knew all the flowers of the area I lived at. Went on valley trips with him, looked for and found Swallow tailed Kite, in east Texas. I knew when he moved to Amarillo that I had lost a GREAT mentor. My life is much better because of Edward A. Kutac. This news touches me very much.

Charles W. Easley
Cleburne, Johnson County

I believe Ed was both an former president and an Honorary Member of TOS, Ethel his sister is still a very active member of TOS. The Executive Board may elect as Honorary member any person whom it deems to have contributed distinguished service to Texas ornithology, but not more than one such election shall be made in any administrative year. In my time on the board (now in year 9) We have only elected 1 Honorary Member.

David Sarkozi
Houston, Harris County

Like Brush and David, I have many fond memories of outings with Ed and work with TOS. Ed did so much for the Texas birding community; he will be sorely missed.

Keith Arnold
Bryan, Brazos County

Didn't all Austin birders learn from Ed? I know my father and I did. My parents and I took a trip to Big Bend with Ed and a van full of Austinites maybe 25 years ago. I'm still good friends with most of the people we met on that memorable trip.

Saturdays were for birding, but Thursdays were for botanizing with Ed's close friend from St. Edwards University, Brother Daniel Lynch. I already knew something about birds by the time I met Ed, but I was near the beginning of my botanical knowledge when I started to accompany Ed and Bro. Daniel into the field.

Ed had a lot of sayings. One that I repeat all the time is "all fame and no fortune."

Ed liked pie and was pretty frugal. (He probably could give Brush a run for his money in the latter department.) When he would show someone a life bird, they were supposed to buy or cook him a piece of pie. The "pie obligation" was probably part of the reason he enjoyed the company of younger female birders as he was more likely to show them lifers and they were more likely to make good on the obligation.

I was rather surprised when Ed once told me he only know three butterflies, the monarch, the red admiral, and I can't recall the third species...

Mike Quinn
Austin, Travis County

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home