I am a longtime member of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, and we are a tight-knit group of individuals. We are an organization made up of scribes that chronicle the great outdoors. It could be essays, columns, how-to advice, blogs, or outdoor photography.
I was approached by late Finger Lakes Times columnist C. Scott Sampson to join NYSOWA many years ago, during an outdoor show in Syracuse. I was penning a column for a local newspaper at the time and promoting outdoor stuff for Wayne County Tourism.
Scott never asked me to join. He told me that I had to sign up.
That was 1996. For the past 25 years, I have formed endearing relationships that continue. Not only did I follow Sampson’s writing, I also worked with writers across New York, sharing photos, story information, and material coming from Albany. This network of colleagues often produced interesting copy for my Finger Lakes readers.
Normally, NYSOWA would meet twice annually — once for business, the other a chance to experience the various regions of the Empire State. We called these spring safaris.
Why would I be rambling on, you are undoubtedly thinking?
It’s because another scribe friend has passed away. We get older and that’s what happens, but I do not like losing friends and colleagues.
Leon Archer and I teamed up a few times during the NYSOWA spring rendezvous. We have fished for stripers from Montauk, netted a bunch of panfish from Glen Lake, and turkey-hunted near Oneida Lake.
During the gobbler hunt, Archer and I followed our guide to the woods during the rain. It was wet … very wet. We both set up close together for safety, and, as dawn broke, we looked up and saw a bunch of large lumps directly above. The birds roosted in our trees.
Archer signaled he was moving down the hill. I stayed, hoping the fly-down would be close to me. I knew it wouldn’t be, but I did not want to move.
Boom! came the sound from down the hill; Leon got his bird. The picture never made the paper because the turkey was soaking wet. Not a good photograph.
At another safari near the Battenkill River, Archer and I were eating lunch when I saw a scarlet tanager. I love my songbirds and told Archer as much.
“Look at that bright red tanager,” I bragged. “I know my birds.”
“That’s a redstart,” Archer countered.
I grabbed some binoculars and viewed an American redstart, an orange-and-black bird. Yes, it was bright, but it wasn’t even close to a scarlet tanager.
I remember these times not just because Leon and I were outdoor writing partners in our environment. It is because we became friends … and I miss him.
Below is most of the text from his obituary:
Leon Franklin Archer, 80, of Fulton, NY entered victoriously into God’s perfect rest and peace on Sunday evening, January 31, 2021 at Upstate Community Hospital in Syracuse, NY. Born on January 11,1941 in Watertown, NY, he was the son of Claude Ramon Archer and Bertha Stevenson Archer. As a child he grew up fishing, hunting, and trapping in and around Sandy Creek, and was an avid outdoorsman his entire life.
He graduated from Sandy Creek Central School in 1959 and was later honored as a “Graduate of Distinction” by the school in 2012. He graduated from SUNY Albany in 1964 and worked as a teacher and media specialist in the Fulton City School District for 32 years.
He married his lifelong love, Geraldine Mae “Sue” Yerdon on July 22, 1961, in Redfield, NY and together they raised five children, four sons and one daughter.
Leon was an active member of the Fulton Alliance Church, where he led various ministries, taught Sunday school, and served as both a Deacon and a teaching Elder. When one of his sons became the pastor of New Hope Church (Baldwinsville, NY) in 2011, he and Sue became active members of that congregation, and were dearly loved.
Outside of his faith and family, Leon’s greatest passion was the outdoors. He had a special connection with God’s creation and loved to share his passion and knowledge with all who were interested. A contributing author to various outdoor magazines and publications, he was most known locally for his regular column in the (Oswego) Valley News, “The Sportsman’s World.” January 2021 marked the beginning of the 37th year of “The Sportsman’s World.”
He was a respected member and officer of the New York State Outdoor Writer’s Association and was a six-time recipient of NYSOWA’s prestigious Excellence in Craft Award. In recent years he expanded his writing beyond the outdoors and published two fiction novels, “Second Lives” (romance) and “The Royal Yorker’s Daughter” (historical fiction). The latter was based in part on family ancestors who served in the American Revolution.
Leon was preceded in death by his brother Warren Archer. He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Geraldine “Sue” Archer; his children, Timothy (Alicia) Archer, Peggy Crosby, Brett (Debra) Archer, Matthew (Rachelle) Archer, Benjamin (Meghan) Archer; his thirteen grandchildren, Will, Tyler, Emily, Anika, Katie, Madison, Annaliese, Sarah, Nathaniel, Taite, Beckett, Sawyer, and Savannah; and his sisters Carolyn Morley and Diane Clark.
His life, love and laughter will be deeply missed, and his memory will be dearly cherished. ...
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Leon’s memory to New Hope Church, 7587 State Fair Blvd., Baldwinsville, NY. To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Leon F Archer, please visit www.summervillefh.com/obituary/Leon-Archer/sympathy.
State parks set attendance record
New York’s state parks, historic sites, campgrounds, and trails welcomed a record-setting 78 million visitors in 2020. That represents an overall increase of 34%, or more than 20 million visitors, since 2011.
This increase was driven by unprecedented growth during the spring and fall seasons, as New Yorkers turned to state parks facilities for safe, healthy outdoor recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
New Yorkers have more options than ever, as state parks completed new facilities under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 Plan, including a new recreation complex at Letchworth State Park.