World-renowned ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson was remembered with pride, affection and humor Saturday during a memorial service in his hometown.
Family members, friends and associates gathered in the Scharmann Theater at Jamestown Community College to pay tribute to the author and artist who created the famous Peterson nature guide series and inspired the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, which opened here in 1985.
Peterson, 87, died July 28 at his home in Old Lyme, Conn.
Linda Westerbeld, Peterson's stepdaughter, recalled a family trip to a bird sanctuary in Captiva Island, Fla., where he spoke with another bird watcher who was talking about what she believed was a great blue heron.
"That's a great egret," Peterson told her.
"No," she said. "That's a great blue heron. It's right here in my Peterson Guide."
"Lady, I wrote that book," he said.
"Sure you did," she told him, "and I'm John James Audubon."
Tory, Peterson's son, remembered what his father taught him.
"I am grateful for the appreciation of the wildlife and the vast beauty of nature and concern for the environment he instilled in me without my even being aware of it," he said.
Fellow naturalist Alan Benton said Peterson revolutionized the study of birds. Before Peterson's unique style of categorizing birds, Benton said, "many rare birds were best documented by being killed first."
"Thanks to Roger Tory Peterson, the collection of birds for identification is today, essentially, non-existent," he added.
County Executive Andrew Goodell described Peterson as "a son of Chautauqua County."
"Chautauqua County is immensely proud, and the world should be immensely grateful," he said.
Dr. Dallas Beal, a member of the board of directors of the Peterson Institute, noted the importance of the institute in carrying on his work.
"We share with his widow and children Roger's past, present and future as symbolized by the institute created in his honor as a living, creative and educational memorial to carry on his life's work," he said.