Hawk release a memorial to local man
By Becky Brooks
For Rose Mary Bartl, and about 40 family and friends, Saturday was a special day to remember her late husband, Edmund.
With a light layer of snow on the ground of the old family farm on Cty. Rd. 24, south of Bellevue, they all gathered and huddled around noon.
Ed died on Jan. 21 and Saturday was a type of memorial to a man, who was a dedicated Bellevue Eagle member, his wife explained.
“He was in the hospital with an upper respiratory problem,” his wife shared on Saturday as those who loved the man hung next to a shed to block the wind and new snow blowing in.
“He was supposed to come home that morning,” she added about 78-year-old Ed. Her husband of 35-year, though, died that morning of a massive heart attack.
When the family needed to pick non-profit groups for memorials for his funeral, Rose picked Back to the Wild Wildlife Rehabilitation & Nature Education Center in Castalia.
“He was always interested in Mona Rutger,” Rose Mary Bartl said about the woman who returns hundreds of injured animals to their habitat and uses those permanently disabled to educate the public.
On Saturday, Rutger was slated to give an education presentation at the Bellevue Eagles Aerie 490 in downtown.
Bartl said her husband had just mentioned that he wanted to visit Back to the Wild himself in Castalia prior to his death. Rose Mary said the topic came up, because there was a story on the cover of an area newspaper in her husband’s hospital room.
Slightly before noon on Saturday, a Back to the Wild van pulled into the farm drive, coming all the way to the back by the buildings because family and visitors had vehicles lining the lane all along the way.
“He had spoken about this,” Rose said.
As a memorial to Ed, Back to the Wild and Rutger brought a rehabilitated red-tail hawk to the family farm to release Saturday.
Rutger exited her van with an assistant and then brought out the hawk. She shared the bird’s history and the background of Back to the Wild.
“Every single time you get covered in goosebumps,” Rutger said about releasing a bird back into to its natural habitat.
With Rose Mary standing next to her in the snow and cameras flashing, the hawk was released to fly up and around the old farm. It circled and traveled up along Cty. Rd. 24 to land in a tree next to the house that Ed and Rose called home.
Rutger said this hawk had flown into a building and nearly broken its beak off. “They do regrow,” she said, but she explained it took almost a year and shaping with a Dremel to get the bird back in shape.
Back to the Wild, a 501C (3) non-profit corporation has over 50 large birds including American Eagles at its facility. It also rehabilitates wildlings. An eagle was one of the birds she was taking to the Eagles Club that afternoon for her visit.
Rutger said the non-profit center received several hundred dollars from those remembered Ed Bartl.
“Every nickel and penny helps,” she said.
The facility’s budget is nearly $350,000 annually and it is funding completely from donations — it is not a government supported agency.
Each year, Rutger and volunteers visit with 70,000 school children in the region to share wildlife education. For information on Back to the Wild visit www.backtothewild.com or find it on Facebook.
On Saturday, Ed’s many loved ones were in awe as the hawk flew from Rutger’s hand.
His sister, Mary Catherine Nickell, who was there bundled in the cold shared, “I thought it was beautiful and nice in honoring the memory of my brother.”