By Rasheena Fountain
Influential moments with nature can happen unexpectedly— experiences that can often fuel long-term connections and love. For the late, military veteran Garry Minor, a life filled with diverse relationships with nature fueled his love and giving. Whether it was his family being reliant on the land for food sources in Duluth, Minnesota, connecting with injured birds in California, or encounters with everyday flora and fauna in Tacoma, respect for nature and its various creatures was influential in Garry’s life. Thus, before Garry passed away in February, 2016, he insured that his will provided a substantial legacy to benefit the environment.
Garry grew up in Duluth, served time in the military and later moved to California where he worked for a few tech companies that were a part of the early Silicon Valley growth. Having retired in the 90’s and relocated to Tacoma, WA, it is stories of interactions with the natural world that are at the forefront of the Minor family’s reflections of him.
Garry’s favorite bird was the Red-tailed Hawk, a love that grew out of having rescued an injured one while working in California as a ranch hand. The Red-tailed Hawk had been shot, so he took the bird in and built a small shelter for the hawk so that it could recover safely.
“He had the more difficult task of exercising it to fly again,” Garry’s son Scott Minor reflected.
“It was during this time he developed a deep appreciation for the hawk and how majestic they are,” he added.
Garry’s love for animals expanded beyond just the birds; he could see the beauty in the smallest and seemingly insignificant, everyday flora and fauna. Perhaps he had an eye for the forgotten, finding meaning in what others might overlook. At his home in Tacoma near Fort Steilacoom Park, he created almost something of an animal sanctuary in the backyard: birds of all types, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, and so on. He bought food for them all in bulk and would feed them year-round.
“To my surprise, his favorite domesticated animal was the house cat,” Garry’s son said. Minor senior preferred the calm demeanor of cats over dogs and found them calming. He had a soft spot for squirrels as well.
Garry was a tribute to a hunter’s ability to also have close relationships with the land. Growing up, his family was poor, and hunting provided his family with vital nourishment and needed income from the sale of some of the furs and pelts.
“Garry appreciated what the wild animals provided and believed that nothing should be wasted. Sport hunting was something he absolutely despised,” Scott Minor recounted.
The time hunting is what Scott Minor attributes to the deep appreciation his father embodied. “He spent a lot of time outside, alone with the birds, animals, fish, and insects that perhaps, in a way, became his friends,” he recounted.
Although the gift that Seattle Audubon received from Garry’s estate was significant, Garry is described by his son as having been a simple, non-materialistic man. Like feeding wildlife or rescuing the injured Red-tailed Hawk, he also believed in serving human community needs. When he retired, he began helping lower income and elderly people.
“He saw how often times the elderly and low-income families were being charged exorbitant fees that they had no choice but to pay,” Scott Minor recounted. He offered his plumbing knowledge that he gained after retirement to offer services to these communities at lower prices.
Then there were the funny stories, the nature vs. man stories that are masterful backdrops for memories that tickle long after the moment. As a teenager, Garry, who was an expert fisherman, and his son Scott went on a fishing trip with some coworkers who had less experience fishing. Garry spent most of his time helping the others. However, when he got the chance to do his own fishing, somehow he lost his fishing pole to the sea.
“I could not believe it. He lost grip of his pole and down it went to the bottom of the ocean. This kind of thing just does not happen to him… ever,” Garry’s son recalls.
Rather than letting frustration ruin the moment, his father went back to helping the other fishermen who happened to have a snagged line.
“Gently reeling it in, he developed the biggest smile on his face, followed by loud laughter. Of all the fishermen’s luck, he saw his lost pole on the other end of the line and got it back onboard again,” Garry’s son said.
Nature returned the fishing pole through his coworker’s snagged line, even with fish still on its hooks. The return is a seemingly fitting exchange with the ocean for a man who sought to give back to the nature that he is remembered for holding dear.
And his family, his son Scott Minor, wanted this simple, non-materialistic nature man’s gift to be in support of the birds and the animals that live on this planet—the friends Garry Minor had grown to love.
As his son stated about the decision to donate to Seattle Audubon, “I believe he would most want you to teach people to respect nature and all the wildlife that inhabits it.”