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DAVE MENKE, 1946-2011
  A life in focus
  Menke’s photography spurred international interest in Klamath Basin wildlife refuges
  by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 5/5/11

H&N file photo by Lee Juillerat
  Dave Menke, long-time outdoor recreation planner for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, died unexpectedly last week at his Klamath Falls home. He was 64.

    Complex based near Tulelake.

   He lived in Klamath Falls with his wife, Valeria, and their three children, Rebecca, Matthew and Sarah.

   A long with his countless images of waterfowl, wildlife and wetlands, he was known for his organizational skills in planning, putting on and assisting with such events as the Tule Lake Bird Festival, International  

   Dave Menke, whose wildlife photographs spurred international interest in Klamath Basin wildlife refuges, died unexpectedly Thursday, April 28 at his home in Klamath Falls.

   Menke, 64, had worked the past 20 years as the outdoor recreation planner for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge  Migratory Bird Day and Winter Wings Festival.

   “When Dave put together a new display of his photos, we all knew we were in for quite a treat,” said refuge complex manager Ron Cole.

   “For those old enough to remember, waiting for Dave to roll out some of his latest photographs was like waiting for Sunday back in the early 1960s to watch the ‘Wonderful World of Disney.’ All week long, the whole world was in black and white, except on Sunday night when Disney painted everything in Technicolor,” Cole said. “That’s what Dave could do with his camera each and every day.”


   Cindy Deas, who is involved with the Klamath Birding Trail and many other groups promoting tourism and recreation, noted Menke also was a founding member of the Klamath/Lake/Modoc/Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Working Group.

   “For myself, I have counted on Dave for his advice, counsel, suggestions, wisdom, hard work, support and friendship,” Deas said. “He was truly a special human being and very talented photographer. His dry sense of humor, chuckle and twinkle in his eye with a little mischief in there somewhere will be fondly remembered. Dave shared his love of birding with me, and was always there when I needed his assistance.”

   Deas went birding Monday with Charlotte Kisling.

   “We birded in Dave’s memory, going to the Link River Trail — one of Dave’s favorite spots, and other places. Dave is now soaring with our fine-feathered friends,” Kisling said.  

   Leslie Lowe, president of Klamath Wingwatchers, said her group is considering “a fitting tribute to our board member, newsletter editor and long-time friend, Dave Menke.” The group plans to consider options at its May 26 meeting.  

   High praise

   Along with praising Menke’s photography skills, Cole also emphasized Menke’s role in organizing and carrying through projects.

   “He was a tireless promoter of wildlife observation, particularly birding. His efforts at helping develop and organize a network for birders to share their daily observations helped galvanize the Klamath Basin birding community into a well-connected group of thousands,” he said.

   “Dave developed numerous walking trails, photo blinds and canoe trails, br ing ing the wonderful work of birding to the masses. Dave led numerous field trips each month, leading the way, glasses in hand, to the next singing mystery bird just around the corner,” Cole said.

   “He had become the go-to person for hard core  enthusiasts as to where the rare sighting could be found, but he was just as comfortable taking a group of novice birders or an elementary class on their first walk to a wetland.”


  Photo by Dave Menke

   Dave Menke, outdoor recreation planner for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex near Tulelake, was known for his wildlife photography. Here, his camera captures a bobcat on the Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge.



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