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OWAA Legend Lonnie Williamson dies at 74
Our thoughts are with the family of Lonnie Williamson, an award-winning OWAA legend who died Dec. 18.
Williamson was born in Jackson County Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism and literature and a master’s degree in wildlife management. He performed
post-graduate work in economics at the University of Maryland.
His professional writing career began in 1958 when he took a reporting job with the Athens Banner Herald newspaper in Athens, Ga. He eventually joined the Wildlife Management Institute in Washington D.C. as the editor of the Outdoor News Bulletin in 1970. He retired 30 years later in the role of vice president of the organization.
Williamson, an accomplished writer contributing to magazine such as Outdoor Life, joined OWAA in December 1970.
“Lonnie Williamson was a great man and a great member of OWAA,” said member Glenn Sapir. “He brought a unique combination of qualities to our organization: expertise in wildlife management, journalism and finance, along with a loveable dose of wit, humor and level-headedness. … He always brought a respected perspective to any issue under discussion … Lonnie was candid and outspoken in his opinions, but he was always the epitome of the Southern gentleman that he was.”
Member Bill Powell met Williamson at a winter OWAA board meeting in 1993 when Williamson was board chairman and had just finished a term as OWAA president. At that meeting Williamson obtained board approval for the creation of OWAA’s restricted endowment fund, an important sustaining influence for the organization today.
“Besides being a dedicated worker over many years for the long-term good of OWAA, in his sometimes gruff and blunt way, he was a delight to have as a friend,” Powell said. “It’s rare to find someone with his mix of intelligence, directness and ability to see and shape the future for good.”
Throughout his membership Williamson continuously stepped up to serve, joining many committees and taking on leadership roles, including serving as the organization’s president from 1991-1992. He also was one of the first members appointed as trustee of OWAA’s endowment trust, managing OWAA’s permanent funds.
“Lonnie ranked as one of OWAA’s strongest and most thoughtful leaders,” said member Mark Sosin. “Beyond his service as president and chairman, Lonnie served on strategic committees of major importance and once could always count on him to suggest solutions to the most pressing problems.”
Throughout his career Williamson won numerous awards including OWAA’s Circle of Chiefs Award in 1983 and the Ham Brown Award for outstanding service in 2000.
“Lonnie Williamson was one of the finest human beings I have ever known,” said member Bill Hilts Sr. who wrote an OWAA legends piece on Williamson. “Lonnie’s relaxed demeanor and friendly attitude was his hallmark and we all learned so much from that truly great, but quiet, philosopher from Georgia.” ♦
Former OWAA member Tom Fegely dies
Tom Fegely, a former OWAA member who served on the Board of Directors, died Dec. 17 in his home-state of Pennsylvania after a long illness. He and his wife Betty Lou Fegely (also a former member and a past president) were joint recipients of OWAA’s Ham Brown award in 2001.
Tom Fegely was a prolific freelance writer and photographer and book author, winning many awards for his work. Our thoughts are with the Fegelys’ family and friends. A full obituary may be found at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mcall/obituary.aspx?n=thomas-fegely&pid=168658041. ♦