Respectfully, Chase Swift
Reprinted from the Rocky Mountain News (August 9th) by reporter Ed Dentry.
August 9, 2006
When Sid Sellers came calling, you listened. Nearly always, the subject would be Outdoor Buddies, the nonprofit ship he launched for handicapped Colorado hunters and anglers in 1984.
Outdoor Buddies needed volunteers, donations. It needed another story in the newspaper because its elk hunters - mobility-impaired though they might be - had just put the average nimrod to shame again in the success department.
Sellers would charm and chat, then quickly get to the point. A tall, vigorous man, he would persuade with such talent that you would forget to think of it as goading.
"He was a warrior. He was tenacious, but it never was for Sid," said Bruce McCloskey, director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, who dealt with Sellers on many issues important to sportsmen and wildlife.
Sidney H. Sellers died Saturday, a month short of his 89th birthday, of complications from a fall he took at his driveway in Denver on July 17. He was born Sept. 4, 1917, in Tarrytown, N.Y., and lived in Baltimore before moving to Colorado in 1953 with his wife, Marion, and two daughters.
A lifelong hunter and angler, Sellers accelerated his wildlife-related public service after retiring as a mechanical engineer. He helped develop Colorado's hunter education program and was a volunteer hunter safety instructor for more than 40 years.
"He loved everything about the outdoors. That's one of the reasons we moved to Colorado," said daughter Carolyn "Charlie" Gallagher, 65, who went boating, fishing and crabbing with the family on the Chesapeake Bay before they came to Colorado.
Sellers enjoyed hunting and fishing and, in his earlier years, showing horses. He developed a passion for bear hunting, which took him to Alaska.
But he never hunted when he directed handicapped hunters into the field on carefully planned forays for elk, geese or turkeys. He once told an outdoors writer he preferred to hunt dangerous game, which could hunt him.
"That's my dad," Gallagher said.
She said he also was fond of word play, bantering and doing crossword puzzles: "He trained me on being a smart-aleck," she said.
Sellers is best remembered as the founder of Outdoor Buddies, which has about 300 "Handi-Buddy" participants, who pay no dues and go on hunting and fishing outings with "Able-Buddy" helpers.
The group started in 1984, when Sellers joined forces with Sam Andrews, recreational manager for Craig Hospital, to get mobility-impaired sportsmen back in the field. It has since inspired similar organizations in 37 other states.
Sellers retired as president of Outdoor Buddies in 2004, at 86, but he stayed on as chairman of the board.
Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis said she and Sellers became friends in 1995, when she was a senator from Pueblo and Sellers would show up at senate committee meetings to ask "for a little seed money" for Outdoor Buddies.
"I always found it to be a very inspiring story and I loved his enthusiasm," Dennis said.
She said Sellers kept in touch.
"He gave me his coat made from the first deer he ever shot as a kid," she said. "It must have meant a lot to him."
Sellers frequently was honored for his service. In 2001, he was chosen Outstanding Wildlife Citizen by the Western Fish and Wildlife Associations. In 2005, KMGH-Channel 7 gave him its Everyday Hero award.
In the field, Sellers was known as a firm taskmaster who kept his participants and assistants in tow, always emphasizing ethical, safe hunting conduct.
"He could be cantankerous," said Dwaine Robey, current president of Outdoor Buddies who remembers when Sellers nixed a blind man's assisted elk hunt in 2004 because "he needs a lot of practice."
"We knew the consequences of overruling Sid," Robey said.
So he gave the man the bad news. Then he and others went to work to find an electronic aid, which allowed the man to practice and meet Sellers' strict standards.
"He got his elk last year," Robey said. "Sid was right."
Sellers is succeeded by his wife, Marion, and daughter Carolyn Gallagher, both of Denver; daughter Bobbie Wheeler, 62, of Chugiak, Alaska; and grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Division of Wildlife's hunter education building, 6060 Broadway. Donations can be made to students pursuing a career in wildlife management, at The Sid and Marion Sellers Scholarship Fund, Outdoor Buddies Inc., P.O. Box 370283, Denver, CO 80237-0283.