Rest in Peace, Greg

Greg Lasley passed away on January 30th, 2021. Greg was a giant on iNaturalist, as one of our most prolific observers and most helpful identifiers, Greg made iNat a great place to be, starting way back in 2012 when iNat was a whole lot smaller. If you look at a map of all the observations he identified, you'll see he helped people all around the world.

We’ve written about Greg in the past, so if he helped you on iNat but you didn’t know him in person, check out Tony’s interview with Greg in 2018 or this Observation of the Week by Greg of a Golden-cheeked Warbler.

I thought the comments on this post would be a good place to share our memories of him. Please be polite and respectful, as Greg was dear to many of us.

I'll go first: in 2015 my friend @robberfly invited me to join a trip he was taking to tour the Rio Grande Valley area with Greg. It turned into a bit of an iNat-a-palooza, but I had a brief chance to get to know Greg in person. He was, of course, a naturalist with knowledge both deep and broad, but my lasting impression was of a consummate gentleman, as generous and kind to others as he was curious about nature. I don't think I heard him utter an unkind word about anyone on that trip, and it was obvious from talking to the many people we met how esteemed and loved Greg was all around the state.

Some random memories from that trip: he thought nothing of driving at 50 MPH in reverse down the shoulder of a state highway to check out some roadkill; he had a giant trash can in his car which I found perplexing and perplexingly useful; his green-boots-and-pink-shirt field combo was both practical and styling. He showed us all kinds of cool creatures, told us a few good (tall?) tales, and led us to some stellar BBQ.

I'll miss him, and my heart goes out to all his friends and family. He clearly inspired and encouraged many people to learn about and appreciate the natural world, both by example and by getting outside with folks and pointing things out, so I know he lives on in every life he touched.

Posted by kueda kueda, February 01, 2021 02:33

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I never had the privilege of meeting Greg in person but we talked many times over the years. I remember back in 2012 in the early days of iNat when @cullen and I were talking about how to get more Texas naturalists involved in iNat and it became clear that real success would be to get Greg involved - Greg Lasley was legendary in the Texas naturalist community and represented everything great about it: super kind, super knowledgeable, a great mentor eager to share his expertise but also humble, patient and laid back. We were so honored that Greg took to iNaturalist as he did and, as Ken-ichi said, he really made iNaturalist a great place to be. iNaturalist is only as smart, cool, knowledgeable, and kind as the people we meet here. When people say they love iNaturalist, I think of the tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who by using this silly piece of software were able to connect with Greg Lasley and get a piece of his knowledge, huge heart, and share in his enthusiasm for nature and photography - and were made better naturalists through that connection. Thats the kind of thing that makes iNaturalist great. I hope we'll all aspire to follow Greg's leadership on iNaturalist and in life. He will be deeply missed and his tremendous impact on the naturalist community will live on here on iNaturalist

Posted by loarie 2 months ago (Flag)
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After hearing stories from @kueda and @robberfly and seeing his activity here on iNat, Greg was a man whose reputation as a knowledgeable, generous, and kind man preceded him, and that's exactly the Greg I met and iNatted with in Texas a few years ago. Greg chose to share this exceptional knowledge and his enthusiasm for nature and photography with all of us, and we as individuals and the iNat community at large benefited tremendously from him.

I tried in vain to get him to talk more about why he added so many IDs here on iNat but his humble "If I can help...I'm glad to do it" was all I could get, and I believe it really was that simple for him: helping others is just what he did. He'll be greatly missed, and my heart goes out his loved ones.

Posted by tiwane 2 months ago (Flag)
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He had long and interesting live, full of adventures and friends. Of course, I've never interact with him, but often saw his activity here.
Rest in Peace and long live in memory of friends, collegues and followers.

PS: Last year an ornitologist, photographer and naturalist from Kazakhstan, Oleg Belyalov passed from covid. He was phenomenal person, loving the nature of his country and the world, made wonderfull cinemas and photos. When I read that news I fill myself as my world lost one of its pillars. I could imagine your feelings.

Posted by kildor 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never got the chance of meeting him. I am going thought his observations now. So many great things he captured on camera.

Posted by myles678 2 months ago (Flag)
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My memories of my pal Greg Lasley would fill volumes...Oh, that's right! They do! I just reread my field journal for April 21, 1978, the day I met Greg and his first wife at Eastwoods Park in Austin as we tried to chase down a migrant Prothonotary Warbler (CWS Vol. 2:33). Little did I know at the time that the encounter would lead to thousands of miles of travel around Texas together over the next 40+ years. We literally birded the entire state together. For a small sample of Greg's bird photography, see Russell Roe's article in Texas Parks & WIldlife Magazine, "Birding the Corners" (Aug/Sept 2017):
https://tpwmagazine.com/archive/2017/aug/ed_3_birding/index.phtml
When Greg was still on patrol for the Austin Police Department, I rode with him a few times during his shifts. That gave me a whole different insight into the wonderful character of this man. Police work can be long stretches of boring detail punctuated by huge adrenalin rushes. Keeping an even keel through all of that is a skill he demonstrated repeatedly. He was a decorated officer, having saved lives a number of times.
His photographic skills were legendary and world-class. In 2000, Greg, along with companion Larry Ditto, won the prestigious Valley Land Fund Wildlife Photo Contest. A selection of images from that effort and other highlights of his photographic career were published by Texas A&M Univ. Press in "Greg Lasley's Texas Wildlife Portraits":
https://www.tamupress.com/book/9781603440578/greg-lasleys-texas-wildlife-portraits/
Little-known fact: Among his voluminous contributions to iNat (nearly 39,000 images), Greg only kept the best-of-the-best digital images for his own reference collection. Most of the mundane images of regular species which he has uploaded to iNaturalist now exist only on this platform; he discarded the originals after posting them.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?user_id=greglasley
Of course, his own personal archive of hundreds of thousands of images (going well beyond iNaturalist uploads) are well-preserved and backed up. We're working to make sure that archive is secure for the future.
iNaturalist meant a lot to Greg for these last several years. He recognized the immense value in such citizen science efforts towards understanding the natural world better. On behalf of his family and all his friends, I want to thank iNaturalist for recognizing Greg's contributions and honoring his memory.

Posted by gcwarbler 2 months ago (Flag)
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Greg was a force of iNature. He was kind and very knowledgeable and had the patience needed to pass that knowledge to others. I will always be appreciative of those that have created a great iNaturalist experience for my college students here in central Texas and Greg was a huge part of that. My students all knew who greglasley from iNaturalist was. His passion for nature and scholarship will be missed but I will be reminded of his presence here in iNaturalist for a long time to come.

Posted by cmeckerman 2 months ago (Flag)
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I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Greg in person, but I corresponded with him, most recently in May to thank him after he became a Monthly Supporter. I hoped to meet him in person one day when I make it back to Texas. Nonetheless, I've felt the impact of his dedication and kindness through his photography, words, and actions on iNaturalist, and everyone I know who knew him. My heart goes out to all of his family and friends.

Posted by carrieseltzer 2 months ago (Flag)
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I like this Flickr photo of mine showing Greg in the field with a fellow nature photographer Bill G. in Corrales, NM in August 2011:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuartwildlife/6027036964/

Greg, who I knew through Odonata Central and later iNat but hadn't yet met in person, had driven from Austin to Albuquerque (a good 11-hour drive) after Bill had discovered a population of Brimstone Clubtail dragonflies, a species Greg needed photos of. We met up and spent an enjoyable day in the field shooting bugs and Greg got his clubtail. I was impressed with the way Greg could dash around with that tripod-mounted telephoto camera rig -- it seemed like a lot to lug around and looked to me like a tripping hazard -- but it paid off with better pics than I can usually manage. He was an absolute pleasure to spend time with, sharing information, and just having fun with our cameras in nature. He bought us all lunch afterwards, then headed out somewhere for more pics. That was a good day.

Posted by jnstuart 2 months ago (Flag)
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Greg Lasley was a good friend. I was only fortunate to spend a dozen or so times out in the field with him, but I did correspond with him quite a bit through this platform. As a matter of fact, I think it was only with iNaturalist that I would have developed this friendship, and for that, I’m truly grateful. It’s been a delight to see just how many other folks got to know Greg through iNat (physically or virtually). When I would meet someone new in person, and they’d say, “Oh yeah, Greg ID’ed that for me” or “this guy Greg is teaching me about these,” it was a fun experience – and it happened a lot.

I have so enjoyed looking at Greg’s observations and living vicariously through his adventures. As a matter of fact, for those that want to go through the same sort of venture, you must check out his favorited observations, or his observations from Antarctica, or his observations from Madagascar, or his observations from Brazil, or his observations from… well, OK, he’s been around the whole world. :) He also put up some really fun records from his past. Just strolling through his observations is an adventure in itself! He would comment that some of the photos he would put up on iNaturalist were of poor quality… Compared to my best shot, his worst shot is like a Mona Lisa! We would joke about plant observations too, here’s a good example with the comments.

Our Texas iNat gatherings do feel like family reunions – there’s such companionship among naturalists – new and veteran (and they don't even have to be from Texas!). They’re not going to be the same that Greg won’t be able to join us in person… but we know that he’ll be there with us in spirit.

I can only hope to impact others the way that Greg has impacted me. He encouraged me to be a better naturalist, and honestly, a better person. He is and will always remain “a part of me.”

From Greg himself on December 31, 2015:
“I'm twice your age, but as we always say in this natural world, there are connections that are made regardless of the generation we come from. I had some naturalist mentors when I was in my 20s and 30s, people like Ed Kutac, Fred S. Webster, and others who are all gone now, but they are still part of me. So....off into more adventures!”

Posted by sambiology 2 months ago (Flag)
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I missed meeting Greg by one day a while back. There is no way that I could go back and make it different, although I wish with every fiber in my being that I could. Greg was an inspiration to me, and I don't know if I would be where I am now. In short conversation with him here on iNat, I could tell that he was one of the most caring and knowledgeable people ever. His knowledge and kindness pushed me in 2020 to try to become a better naturalist and birder. I greatly miss him.

Posted by brdnrdr 2 months ago (Flag)
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Like many other iNatters, I never met Greg. But he helped me identify birds so many times. He won my greatest admiration, though, when he helped my grandson identify birds and then commented with educational information that would teach him. Greg was always kind and gracious, never condescending. iNat will miss him! But his legacy will live on with the storehouse of documentation that he made. His nature photography website is phenomenal! I'm so thankful to have benefitted from this man's life.

Posted by suz 2 months ago (Flag)
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We were fortunate among those who called Greg Lasley a friend. Make no mistake - while Greg was a giant on iNat - more importantly he was a giant to his wife Cheryl (an intellectual tour de force in her own right), his biological family, his police family, and those he called his friends. It was a wonderful experience to spend time in the field with Greg, who was such a keen observer willing to share his considerable knowledge. Even more telling of the man were his incredible life stories, from tracking down an armed criminal hiding in the brushy banks of Shoal Creek in Austin to a close call with a hungry polar bear in Churchill, Manitoba, it was clear that Greg packed a lot into his 70 years. Godspeed, dear friend, you and your incredible contributions will not easily be forgotten.

Posted by earthgrazer 2 months ago (Flag)
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RIP, Greg. I met him once at a National Geographic bioblitz at the Big Thicket (Texas). He was such a kind man, and I enjoyed hearing him tell of his adventures in Antarctica.

Posted by cosmiccat 2 months ago (Flag)
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I don't think I can say anything that others have already said better. I can't overstate how much I respected Greg and looked up to him as a role model here on iNat. I've known and respected him since my beginnings as a birder in TX, where he served for many years on the state bird records committee. I only was able to spend time in the field with him on a couple outings years ago, but he taught me some techniques I still use to this day. My most memorable experience with him was when he let me tag along to a location in Austin where a very rare dragonfly (this exact Turquoise-tipped Darner, in fact: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/189626) was hanging out. For a long time, that was probably the rarest species of dragonfly I had seen in the U.S., and I felt so fortunate that he shared it with me! He was also an amazing photographer, and it was very cool to watch him in action there with his tripod set-up. LOL, I don't know how he got that through the underbrush!

Over 450,000 identifications on iNat! It's an incredible example of how much he contributed to the communities he was a part of. It will be strange not seeing his name as the first identifier of a U.S. butterfly or dragonfly sighting on iNat, as was often the case when I was going through those sightings to identify them as well. His are shoes that cannot be filled. Rest in peace, legend.

Posted by nlblock 2 months ago (Flag)
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I'm still so devastated by Greg's passing. He was a great friend, with whom I was privileged to spend so much time photographing wildlife and enjoying each others company. We traveled all over the US and to a number of countries together. He and his wife Cheryl represented my family when my wife and I got married in Ecuador. He had a huge heart and was always so generous. I remember one time standing in a parking lot with him and visiting with someone who was lamenting that they wished they had this certain camera lens that Greg had. Without hesitation, Greg just handed the $2000 lens to him and said here, keep it. He was not only a great friend to me, but also a teacher and mentor in so many ways. All my best bird photos were taken right next to the master. He had an unbelievable ear and sense of where to find things. I can't take any credit for Greg's interest in dragonflies as he would have eventually found his way to the group for sure, but I fondly remember him first learning about them when we would go out. This big strong guy was afraid to put his hands in a net and handle a dragonfly :-) That changed quickly of course, maybe in part because of my ribbing, and he made enormous contributions to the science of odonatology in a very short time through his avid collecting as well as photographing. He fell in love with the iNat community because it provided him a place to share his knowledge and passion for nature. It is heartwarming to read just how far his reach was. He is a model for us all when considering the impact that just one life can have on so many. I miss my dear friend, but I'm glad his struggle is over. He will live on in all of us that interacted with him.

Posted by jcabbott 2 months ago (Flag)
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In a journal post I said my sad good bye to Greg but will share its content here. Greg had such an impact on my life, making being a citizen scientist one of my most important activities.
I looked back to all the pictures of my visit from Greg back on May 14th and 15th of 2013. It fills me with conflicting emotions, sadness that it will never happen again and gratitude that it happened at all. He came up from Austin to go out with me to Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington, Texas, and my local park, Arcadia Trail Park, in Fort Worth, Texas. He was so dedicated to teaching and encouraging others to become observers of the natural world around them and to document it here. He was especially knowledgeable when it came to birds and dragonflies/damselflies though no slouch with identifying many other species. He joked that after so many years as exclusively a birder, he was now "a birder gone bad".
I tried to figure out if I could connect some of the pictures from that visit here but it was too long ago to make that an easy process. He really got something started with his encouragement. All these years later I hardly ever have many days when my camera isn't trying to capture elements of my environment, anything flying, crawling, growing. It keeps me learning and trying to contribute to other people's projects to expand our knowledge of what is going on with nature wherever we are. I know he has impacted so many other people of all ages and backgrounds. He was generous with his time and knowledge, never making others feel "less than" because he knew more.
Greg and his wife Cheryl welcomed a group of us to their house near Austin many years ago. I wore my iNaturalist t shirt from that day until it was pretty worn out but I till have it. I have new ones now to celebrate iNaturalist and what it has become. My heart goes out to Cheryl and all of us who loved Greg. He was a special person, humble and honest. In gratitude, I say good bye to my friend

Posted by taogirl 2 months ago (Flag)
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My goodness. You all made me cry.

It's hard to write something that adequately addresses the impact Greg has had. I was a mere iNat acquaintance of his at best, but news of his passing felt like a kick in the gut. Thinking back, it was hard not to feel a sense of relief when he chimed in on a confusing bird or Odonata ID, which was quite frequent in my first few years on iNat. A few years ago, we were chatting about the frequency of dark-morph Red-Tailed Hawks, which led to him writing an article for our local Audubon newsletter. What an honor that he was willing to share his time and knowledge with our little group! Ever since then, each time a dark morph Red-tailed Hawk appears, I am instantly reminded of him and our conversations.

I don't know if the developers of the iNaturalist platform intended to bring people together in this manner, but it's obvious from your comments above that Greg took the time to form friendships and/or mentorships with each of you, which speaks volumes to the level of "megastar human" he was. His helpfulness and knowledge are now immortalized on iNat, his kindness and the interactions we all had with him cannot be replaced.

Posted by amzapp 2 months ago (Flag)
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My first memories of Greg are as a kid, hearing about a friend of my parents that was going to come out to the property to photograph dragonflies. I remember tagging along with him and my brother, but I usually had a shorter attention span and ventured off to explore something else - I remember thinking he was a really cool naturalist and that he had great stories. As I grew into adulthood, I started to get to know Greg and Cheryl better, and realized that my initial impressions still held true years later, but I also began to see Greg as a mentor, friend, and compassionate individual that has had immeasurable impacts on the world around him. Greg inspired me to start documenting species with iNat, as he documented hundreds of species on our family's property and set up a boundary so we could better track observed species. To date, he still has the most observations on the property (and they are accompanied by the best photos)! Greg was always willing to help anyone, had such humility about all the amazing things he had done throughout his life, and was always exploring and learning new things as a naturalist. He was a great listener, a wonderful story-teller, was stubborn and persistent, cared deeply about people, and had an innate curiosity and hunger to learn more about the natural world. When I started my career in education, Greg was always willing to let me use his incredible photos in the classroom, which was so neat to be able to include such amazing images that he always had a story to go along with. We have lost a truly amazing person and naturalist, but I know Greg will continue to inspire me to be a better person and a better naturalist as long as I live. And how amazing that we have reminders of Greg and his legacy left for us, literally around the globe, that we can continue learning about his adventures and learning from him. Thanks, Greg, for all that you have taught us, and godspeed.

Posted by mmccown 2 months ago (Flag)
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Mi querido Greg. Te recordaré siempre, tenía varios meses pensando en tu ausencia en esta plataforma intuyendo que estarías en una situación grave.

Como quiera que sea, siempre eres para mi un ejemplo a seguir y me encanta la forma en la que percibes la naturaleza y la muestras.

Tengo la certeza de que te encuentras ahora en un paraíso con todos los seres que fotografiaste, gozándote y recreándote en ellos...

Por ahí nos encontraremos en el camino... tu legado siempre estará en mi corazón. ¡Muchas gracias amigo!

Posted by luisave 2 months ago (Flag)
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"No!" That is my first memory of Greg from back in 1991 a couple of months after my arrival in Texas from my native England. That morning I had found the first Sharp-tailed Sandpiper for Texas, and in those days there were no cell phones. I had previously been in touch with Greg about a couple of rare birds I had found and felt that we had hit it off, so I was a bit shocked when he refused to take the collect call I had been forced to make from a pay phone. It turns out that he was sleeping from a night shift, and sometimes they would get a call from someone in jail seeking a public defender - as Cheryl was in those days. Greg used to enjoy telling this story of the start of our friendship; about how - as his head cleared a bit and realized who it was - he could hear me yelling "Sharp-tailed Sand! Sharp-tailed Sand!" over the voice of the operator telling me that the call had been refused, and hanging up. I cussed a bit (well, a lot actually) and called again - this time Greg had his wits about him and readily accepted the call. The next morning he brought Victor Emanuel up and they enjoyed long looks at the Sharpie -and Greg got far better photos than anyone else, of course. It was our first meeting, and was the catalyst for many years of friendship, excitement in discovery, animated discussions (okay; arguments occasionally!), great story telling, and that special bond that allows warts to show without threatening friendship.
Like Chuck I went on a ride-around with Greg on a shift in Austin - boy was that an eye-opener! It really increased my level of respect for the work of Law Enforcement Officers as Greg told me various things he had experienced at this corner, or at that gas station. We went to a 911 call made by a child in a really dodgy part of town, and I remember going up the apartment stairs - with Greg in the lead, of course; my heart was pounding in trepidation and I recall thinking that a) I was crazy to be heading into such a scary place, and b) "wow - this is a normal part of Greg's job!" By that time Greg was a sergeant and had enough seniority to have moved to the "softer" west side if he wanted-to, but he chose to stay in the east side as he felt it kept him sharper; more focused on the job; able to provide good leadership to the less-experienced officers. That was Greg; not one to take the easy way when the best way was harder. Greg was proud of the fact that in all of his many years as a police officer he had only drawn his weapon a handful of times (never actually shooting anyone!)
Like others I was enthralled by Gregs travel stories - my favorites being the ones from the Polar Bear tours to Churchill (the best being the time in town when a Polar Bear came running straight at him, but then continued past him within touching distance), and the camping hikes into the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in search of Horned Guan. Long before Greg fell into the Dark Side of odonates (!) he had photographed an Argia up there in Triunfo that someone had suggested was probably an undescribed species. I could tell that Greg was quietly excited by this prospect... does anyone know which iNat record that is?
Another measure of the man is that he was the only person that the legendary Roger Tory Peterson, in his waning years, would trust to take him on private birding trips.
Okay - enough. I could tell of many other great, meaningful times with Greg, as I am sure could many of his friends. Suffice to say that he has left a hole in the hearts of many of us; a hole that is at least partially filled by so many treasured memories.

Posted by upupamartin 2 months ago (Flag)
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When I was thinking about getting into photography he handed me equipment and encouraged me with advice. When I asked about photo management he invited me to his house and spent an afternoon patiently teaching me step by step how to use Lightroom. It was a disarmingly generous gesture from an amazing photographer, and all the more so because of his humility. He would say things like"I don't know if this is the best way, this is just what works for me. You might find a better way". I haven't, and I think of him every time I open Lightroom.

It was on that afternoon that I introduced Greg to iNaturalist. He said he wasn't so sure about it, but would check it out. Within 6 months he had uploaded over 6,000 observations. When I asked him how it was going he said he was "just devastated" because shortly before joining iNaturalist he had thrown out over 10,000 photos, each with a location and date. These were his back up photos, the ones that were not quite as good as his best photos for that species, but all better than any of my photos. Clearly iNat and Greg were a good match.

Greg went on to add almost 40k observations and over 450K id's to iNaturalist. But he wasn't just adding ID's, he was also taking the time to help people with species identification. Once when I stopped by his house he showed me some of his many drafts of common pointers and tips he shared in his ID comments. I agree with @jcabbott in that he is a model for us all. It is also a testament to the iNaturalist platform in the way it magnified Greg's reach. I am sad that I will never get another chance to chase dragonflies with Greg, but he will always remain as an inspiration.

BTW, here is one of his obs from 2015 from a gathering at his house that included many of the people that have commented here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2372054

Posted by cullen 2 months ago (Flag)
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Greg kindly befriended me in the mid-1990s, and subsequently we took a few trips in search of critters to photograph. One of those trips led us to the TX Panhandle, to photograph lesser prairie chickens. Once in the Panhandle, the day before we were to sit in the blind to photograph lessers, Greg told me he wanted to introduce me to a neat guy he'd met on another such trip. So off we went to Lipscomb, TX to meet J.W. Beeson, Saddlemaker & Cowboy Poet. (Look for Libscomb on your map, and you'll see it really is, umm, remote, even for TX.)

Anyway, we spent several hours with JW, admiring his saddlework, listening to his music, and a bit of his poetry. I still have JW's business card, which states, "Hermit Coach, Women & Cats Trained, Paid Mourner." As a former professional chronicler of all things Texas and travel, I marveled that nature guy Greg had found this wonderful human interest tale in the middle of the largely unpopulated panhandle.

The next day we photographed lessers, with wonderful results, then moved on to Dexter, KS to photograph greater prairie chickens. 'Twas an outstanding and productive trip for us both; and I learned that a nature photographer could also double as a photojournalist.

It's very rewarding to see that Greg touched, taught, and influenced so many other folks in all walks of life no matter where he was. His legacy will live large, and leave tracks for all of us to follow.

Thank you, GWL!

Posted by mikmurphy 2 months ago (Flag)
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Like many others, I never did met Mr. Lasley in person, though I would’ve loved to. But we did correspond over INat and email, and had some great ID talks. He’s had a significant impact on my life, and I’m certain he did for other young birders too. Mr. Lasley was an awesome birder and naturalist, but an even better person. I do wish him good luck.

Rashmiya,

Posted by rhasan141 2 months ago (Flag)
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Very sad to hear of Greg's passing. It was always so inspiring seeing his identifications and how he could humbly suggest an ID while including tips and field marks to look for. I remember reading about his role in getting so many people on iNat in Texas and being impressed with how many lives he touched by helping create such a special community. It's been wonderful reading through all of the comments and experiences people shared with Greg. Many of the comments were very touching! Well done iNat for honoring this special person who helped so many people around the worlld!

Posted by joemdo 2 months ago (Flag)
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Victor Emanuel wanted me to forward the following remembrance of his long-time friend Greg Lasley:

“When I moved to Austin in the summer of 1978, Greg was one of the first new birding friends I made. My friend Ed Kutac suggested I call him. I went to his home in south Austin and met him and his wife Becky. A few days later I went birding with them and Chuck Sexton at McKinney Falls State Park. That was the beginning of one of the best friendships of my life. We birded areas around Austin especially Hornsby Bend. Greg came on many Freeport Christmas counts and then started leading some tours for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. VENT chartered a Russian ship for a trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. I asked Greg to be one of the leaders. Other leaders on that trip included Peter Matthiessen and Robert Bateman. Over the next ten or so years Greg and I co-led many trips including several to El Triunfo, a cloud forest preserve in southern Mexico. Greg was interested in all aspects of nature. He especially loved snakes. On one El Triunfo trip he spotted a gorgeous small green and blue snake In a bush next to the trail. It was Bothrops ornatus, a snake that was known at that time from only one site. Greg lived with me for a year during a transition time in his life. He met Cheryl Johnson and asked me to be best man at their wedding. That was one the greatest honors of my life. Greg was one of the finest persons I ever got to know. I will miss him every day of my life.”

You can see one of Greg’s images of “Bothrops ornatus”, now known as Bothriechis bicolor, on iNaturalist here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/127381

Posted by gcwarbler 2 months ago (Flag)
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I thought it would be a fitting tribute to enshrine images of Greg in the iNaturalist database, each based on a wild organism in the photo. There are eight such records:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943725
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943726
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943727
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943729

these need plant IDs:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943731
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943732
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943734
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68943733

I'd like to see any other "real"records (i.e. not just Homo Sapiens) that contain images of Greg, thanks.

Posted by upupamartin 2 months ago (Flag)
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Georgean and I met Greg in the 1980's and became friends through the bird banding efforts first at Driftwood and later at what would become Travis Audubon's Chaetura Canyon Sanctuary. He was always an amazing resource for us as novice birders - extremely generous with his time and expertise.

Roger Tory Peterson once referred to Greg as "...one of the finest field ornithologists in North America", but his expertise extended far beyond birds to all things in the natural world from plants to dragonflies.

Our hearts are with Cheryl and his many friends who are left behind and will miss him so much.

Bon voyage, Greg

Posted by chaeturians 2 months ago (Flag)
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We have lost a great naturalist, teacher and friend. I first had contact with Greg years ago when I posted a photo of a blue-fronted dancer on this platform. He messaged me to tell me I had done it all wrong and instructed me on how I should best photograph odonates in the future to assure an accurate ID. That was Greg; an unbashful educator. He then invited me, sight unseen, to come down and spend a few days in the Austin area so he could take me afield, show me his favorite dragonfly spots and teach me more about my newfound interest. He and Cheryl were the consummate hosts. That was also Greg; welcoming, generous and kind. The loss is immeasurable, but we will keep him in our hearts, always, and honor his legacy by continuing to appreciate, respect, conserve and document our remarkable natural world. R.I.P. my friend; we'll do our best to take it from here.

Posted by jwn 2 months ago (Flag)
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Hello all,
I am heartbroken by the loss of such an amazing human and naturalist.

I met Greg in Tapachula, Chiapas, in late March 1987. He and Victor (Emanuel) were leading a small group to El Triunfo, a crown jewel among Mexican and Neotropical reserves, to see, among the wonderful biodiversity of the area, Horned Guan and Azure-rumped Tanager. I knew of Greg, as probably every hungry young birder at the time reading about Texas bird records in American Birds/North American Birds, and I was in awe that I could actually spend time birding with a superstar! He was so friendly, humble, knowledgeable, and all the beautiful words written so far in the comments that barely do justice. Perhaps the highlight of that trip was almost, dare I blaspheme, non-ornithological - fitting in some many ways: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/127381.

I had the good fortune to travel to Churchill, Manitoba with Greg the following summer (again with Victor), and then spend many a winter weekend birding south Texas with him, Victor, Oscar Carmona, Chuck Sexton, and an array of incredible mentors and friends. Those were some amazing and formative times, I could not possibly do them justice with words now other than to point anyone reading this to the countless accounts above of Greg's being. One particular memory is a drive to the mouth of the Rio Grande, encountering an absolutely absurd number of Piping Plovers, many of which Greg photographed at close range with his typical legendary skills behind a camera, and a beached Northern Gannet. We spent a lot of time in the Isuzu trooper ... I shudder to think how many hours in total he spent in it!

And I, too, had the great fortune to do two ride-alongs with Greg during his days in the Austin Police Department - as a suburban birding kid from Westchester County, NY, I must say these experiences were as eye opening as any in my life, ever! Greg's comments to begin both of these ride-alongs (they may have been a year or two apart) were the same: not much will happen, this is pretty monotonous stuff, we will do this as long as you can tolerate the boredom. These rides were far from boring, one including basically a traffic stopping riot and the other a SWAT-led capture in a suburban neighborhood involving a suspect barricaded in a house, loud music, bomb-making materials, negotiation, and news media.

My heart goes out to Cheryl, and to all of you who knew, knew of, and will now know, Greg for the incredible talent and soul he was. I hope one day to be half the naturalist he was, though only to realize that this was but one of his many, many dimensions.

Posted by a_farnsworth 2 months ago (Flag)
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I was never fortunate enough to meet Greg Lasley but I felt I knew him a bit through his iNaturalist work. The quality of his photos was always wonderfully amazing. I hoped there would be a day I would run into him in the field, alas, that day will never come. I can only say rest in peace. Your life and legacy will continue to live on through your photos in books and your contributions to iNaturalist for both learning and conservation efforts.

Posted by craighensley 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never had the privilege of meeting Greg in person, but like so many others have commented already, his kindness and enthusiasm here in the iNaturalist community - and his stunning photography - left a lasting impression on me. He really was a lodestone for our Texas naturalist community. It doesn't lessen the loss for his friends, family, and loved ones, but I hope it's some comfort for them to know how special he was to so many people.

Posted by taniahomayoun 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never met him, but I could always rely on him to help with tricky Identifications and always have thorough explanations for why it was one thing and not the other. He will be missed.

Posted by chrisleearm 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never got to meet him, so sorry to hear this he was a true Naturalist!

Posted by naturenut 2 months ago (Flag)
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Dear Greg, yes, you were a great naturalist and superb photographer. Of equal, if not greater importance, was your concern for all life and the planet; your humanity; and your ability to bring out the best of all those you met.

No, I didn’t know you for 40 years, or travel all over Texas and the world with you. We spent the longest time in person at the 2015 LRGV meetup.

After that meeting, we began emailing, texting, phoning. Some of our interactions were naturalist (badinage about whether I’d become any better at IDing shore birds with my response asking if you’d become any better at IDing those pesky moths); many were “mundane” (our cats, our families, politics, religion, gardening) that may seem meaningless in the grand scheme of Nature but cemented friendship.

As Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey barrelled toward my area in 2017, you immediately called to offer your home if I needed to evacuate. When I demurred about both of us having cats your reply was “Don’t worry. We’ll work something out.”

Now seesawing between heartache and rage that it didn’t “work out” for you as it should have. My only consolation is that you will be a lodestar to many on iNaturalist who will carry on the nurture of our precious planet.

Greg, I mourn with your family and your many friends who aren’t a part of iNaturalist, and hope they may take some comfort in knowing that you will remain a light in our hearts as well as theirs.

Posted by krancmm 2 months ago (Flag)
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I am sad that I will never get the opportunity to really know Greg. We've never directly corresponded, but he's helped with IDs on many an observation of mine, and I've always been aware of and admired him as one of the iNat "giants". His helpfulness and kindness will be sorely missed.

Posted by graysquirrel 2 months ago (Flag)
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What a great loss, but what a great legacy! Thanks, all, for sharing your memories of Greg. Having never met him in person, I have only his books, his website, social media, and iNaturalist to remember him, but remember him I will. And, I will treasure the observations, identifications, and exchanges he so generously shared on this remarkable platform.

Posted by kathrynwells333 2 months ago (Flag)
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I did not know Greg in person, but my feelings echo @krancmm 's - "Now seesawing between heartache and rage that it didn’t “work out” for you as it should have."
Greg helped me out many times, and about a year ago I messaged him with a request, and happened to ask him how he was. He let me know about his lungs, and I immediately switched into Nurse mode (ex ICU and Psychgeriatiric). I immediately asked him practical things like Powers of Attorney, and tossing out ideas about his 'idiopathic' disease (Basically it's that doctors don't know what caused it). I even asked him if he had climbed around in bat caves, and picked up a weird fungus. We have a fungus just east of Winnipeg that causes Blastomycosis which affects the lungs (I've cared for patients with Blasto). I then realised that he was probably too short on energy for that, and only contacted him a few times after that to ask how he was doing.
I'm glad he had the lung transplant, even though it did not work out. I've seen patients who should have been on the heart transplant list (we don't do them in Winnipeg) die, because they thought they could 'medically manage' them. A man in his 40's with a wife and two small kids is etched in my mind. The physicians Greg knew thought he was 'worth' a transplant, and arranged for it to happen, which is fantastic. Complications are a risk with any surgery, especially with one that complex, and I'm glad he died at home with dignity.
So yeah, heartache and rage. Heartache from the fact we have lost a good person, and rage that it had to happen in the first place. To me, he was still young, and had had such knowledge and love.
Sorry for the rant, but this feels personal to me for a number of reasons. Go with grace to meet the Creator, Greg Lasley.
Ian

Posted by mamestraconfigurata 2 months ago (Flag)
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Though I never met Greg, he emailed me and welcomed me to iNaturalist back in 2017.
He was wonderful at helping me with my, not so great photos of dragonflies and birds.
I only knew of him through the numerous photos he uploaded and some I commented on because they were simply amazing.
He has left a wonderful footprint for many of us to learn from.
His knowledge, input and awe inspiring photos and kindness will never be forgotten.
I know he has done many things in his life outside of iNat' but I only knew of him because of it.
I am going to remember Greg in the only way I know of him, sitting in an open field surrounded by beautiful flowers, dragonflies and birds. Enjoying nature as he seems to have enjoyed his entire life.
My prayers to his family and many friends.

Posted by walkingstick2 2 months ago (Flag)
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Eminent naturalist and author Ro Wauer has shared the following personal thoughts about Greg:

"Rarely does one find a friend so compatible as Greg. I will miss him very much. We shared our love of birds as well as various adventures to near and distant locations. I will cherish many memories in Mexico, of standing below the cliff with squawking maroon-fronted parrots and the open grassland in search of Worthens sparrows. Even during numerous visits to the Pineywoods. And we shared many trips to the Big Bend. Those days were filled with excitement, whether they involved seeing special birds or just the aura of a natural setting, we both loved the wildness together. Greg’s kindness was always so obvious, as well. He provided his fabulous photographs so many times. Several of my books are filled with Greg Lasley photography. He was a marvelous photographer and a special friend. He will be missed!"

Some of Greg's images of Maroon-fronted Parrots in n.e. Mexico:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/151783
and Worthen's Sparrow:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/154063
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/154065

Posted by gcwarbler 2 months ago (Flag)
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Greg was a fellow law enforcement officer, fellow wildlife photog and good friend. After he retired, he was fortunate enough to get to do what he loved, traveling and photographing all of his favorite subjects. He was a great friend to many, contributed much to this and other wildlife causes. He will be missed...

Posted by jcentavo 2 months ago (Flag)
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It is a great loss to the world with the passing of Greg. I did not know him very well and becoming an iNatter somewhat late, I always felt his presence in the community was quite legendary, if not intimidating. That is why my first gathering with other iNat folk was so memorable. He was very generous with his teaching, calling out finds in the field, or showing us where to find certain species. Much to my surprise he offered to take me out odeing on a future outing. I was very fortunate that he did just that with a trip to Gonzales and Luling area. Mainly to look for Blue-faced Ringtails which we did find. I think I found a dozen new to me species that trip as well as getting to know him a little better. I can remember what he said when we came across an Ivory-striped Sylph, "You need to be documenting that one well" or words to that effect.
I am glad that Greg's knowledge and generosity are well documented and thankful there is a community where people can meet each other and share experiences.

Posted by mikef451 2 months ago (Flag)
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I had the pleasure to get to know Greg as an Austin cop while I served at Austin PD for 28 years. As I retired 13 years ago, I started visiting Greg to get ideas on camera gear and technique. As some of you have said, his notes could be clear when you sent him a photo and asked for an ID. "Well, it's out of focus and a few stops under but here is what a Golden Cheeked Warbler looks like." When I later got the response, "Great shot Paul!", I knew that I was catching on. One of the last times that we got to hang out together in 2019, he convinced me to join iNat and I am so glad that I did. For a year or so, I had the pleasure of sharing a photo privately with Greg before I posted it here. Now I will rely on this community of friends of Greg to help me out. I know how blessed I was to have Greg and Cheryl in my life!

Posted by paulbrick 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never knew him personally but I did get quite a few things confirmed from the guy and was given some good nuggets of wisdom when it came to gathering images of Odonata. He was always there to lend a hand when I was not able to find the right answers on my page. He would often comment with something nice like Great Shot or something if I had a nice one. I had heard a lot about him and always heard great things about him. I had saw an interview he did the day after his passing. He was quite the guy I will have to say and I loved his work. I have his official photography page on my favorites bar on my PC. When I am having a bad day or when I want to get some inspiration I look at his photos either on the website or even his iNat. He has such a talent with photography. I helped him ID things and he helped me. Never knew him in person but I know that we did have a mutual understanding of the delicate balance of the world. One naturalist to another we are on the same team. We are all allies in the fight for understanding, nature, preservation, conservation, and educations. We are all soldiers enlisted in environmentalism. As a Master Naturalist we hold the stories and the wisdom of the ones that have come before. I am sure that all the Texas Master Naturalists that knew him will carry on his work. A naturalist's work is never done when one shuffles off to the other side it is up to the others to carry the load of knowledge so they are never truly lost or forgotten. Greg's work is done but the mission of the naturalist must go one. As long as we keep what he has taught us who knew him he will be with us. I admired his work and so wanted to meet him. He was a good guy from what I read and saw. Naturalists are all family to me. We all share in being a voice for nature and keep on marching to protect nature and keep up the good fight. Greg you will be missed deeply and dearly. His photography was and is very impressive and his knowledge of birds and dragonflies was grand. I have the Dragonfly Guide he took pictures for. He was an amazing Ode photographer. We may have never crossed paths but I am sure if we did we would be on the same page for I love birds and dragonflies and a lot of things he loved.

Posted by galactic_bug_man 2 months ago (Flag)
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Greg was eager to help give photo tips and lend his expertise. His hospitality was incredible. You felt as if you've been friends for years just after a couple of text messages and phone calls. He was so excited just to walk around and share the natural treasures of the backyard. Every excursion outside was a chance to make a new discovery and the passion he had was contagious. The legacy he leaves behind is an inspiration to all of us who seek to explore and share the natural world with others.
He came to visit me at McKinney Roughs Nature Park to photograph Silver-banded Hairstreaks. As we gathered around the plants that were loaded with butterflies, a birding group walked up, including good friend Ethel Kutac. It was like a family reunion. These were some shots of the group in a real observation for the nectaring plants.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/69378113

Posted by ncowey 2 months ago (Flag)
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May he rest in peace, Greg will be sorely missed by all of us. :o(

Posted by suzrj 2 months ago (Flag)
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I miss him, even though our paths crossed mostly online.
https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/mikaelb/46213-greg-lasley

Posted by mikaelb 2 months ago (Flag)
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I've visited Dallas a few times with work, and spent some weeks in Texas nature, having travelled so far anyway.
Back in 2005 I planned to see some dragonflies during my first visit, and contacted Greg, who asked me to come visit him. He took me to Hornsby Bend in the afternoon, and showed me a lot of dragonflies. The same day I had driven from Dallas to Austin.
As his wife was not at home, I slept in the bed room, while he found something less comfortable for himself. The next day we went to the Hill Country west of Austin, but had no sun all day. So instead of spending more days in Austin, I headed west to Big Bend NP.

In 2013 I visited him again, this time in Dripping Springs close to Austin, and had the pleasure of meeting his wife. The visit was better weather wise, and we went for trips to close locations and a full day trip to Gus Engeling WMA, south of Dallas. We travelled with two others, and the locations close Austin, also meant I could meet other people from Texas, who were interested in dragonflies.

Unfortunately I did not go to Austin in 2019, where the international and national conferences on dragonflies coincided in July, so you could attend both. Would have loved to visit Greg a third time.

Rest in peace Greg.

Posted by erlandreflingnielsen about 2 months ago (Flag)
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I had the pleasure of meeting Greg one time and the meeting was pretty much as everyone has described here - I found a friendly, enthusiastic and immensely knowledgeable naturalist who was more than happy to share for the betterment of all. My interactions with him here were unfortunately relatively infrequent but usually consisted of him correcting my erroneous Ode IDs or tagging me on a bird observation to offer my ID thoughts. (On the latter I always was honored to be asked to contribute, knowing the long legacy of birding the man had acquired over decades that far surpass my own abilities.) His prolific identifications here on iNaturalist have always inspired me to try to spend a bit more time (that I don't really have much of) doing the same than I otherwise would, though admittedly I need to work on that. I never got to directly tell him how much I respected his contributions here - especially the identifications - but over time I have realized just how much his and others' identification work means to the success of iNaturalist. Despite there having been almost 1.5 million Observers on the site to-date, his passing will leave a giant void here that will require all of us to work hard to fill. Rest in Peace Greg, and thank you for everything.

Posted by jaykeller about 2 months ago (Flag)
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My husband and I never had the privilege of meeting Greg, but he was always available to help with ID's and answer any questions we had. We will greatly miss his knowledge and his willingness to share it with others. His family are in our thoughts.

Posted by texasgirl27 about 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but he was always a great support here to me on iNaturalist. He definitely made a huge impact on my involvement with the site and nature in general. A remarkable man with vast amounts of knowledge and drive to share it others. I feel lucky to have communicated so little that I did with him. May he rest peacefully and have his knowledge and work carried on through others that had the pleasure to learn from him.

Posted by joecoolbrew about 2 months ago (Flag)
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I did have the privilege - which indeed it is - of meeting Greg, birding and naturalizing with him. Remarkable man who jumped into iNaturalist with passion, and thereby lent his credibility to the fledgling at a crucial time. Remembering him as one of the pioneers of popularizing this platform, and citizen/community science is an apt memorial.

Posted by gyrrlfalcon about 2 months ago (Flag)
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I never met Greg, but we did talk a lot on the phone and through iNat. One of my first memories of him is when he sent me two books in the mail, so I could learn about gulls, and after that we became friends. Then back in Jan 2020, he messaged me and told me about his health problem and we became even closer friends. I was lucky enough to talk with him once a week during his last 6 months, he would tell me about his days in the Air Force, how he got into birding, his earlier life, his days as an Austin PD officer. I wish I could have bird watched with him or at least meet him, but at least I have the good memories of our phone calls and iNat messaging. Besides birding, he was probably one of the nicest person I ever met and my memories of him will be with me forever.
Thank you Greg for being a great friend!

Posted by bluejay2007 about 2 months ago (Flag)
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In the late 70's I was selling nature photos to magazines & told one of the photo editors that I needed to expand my knowledge of birds. He told me that he had photos from an expert birder who was wanting to expand his photography and perhaps we could help each other. He gave me Greg's name, I called him & he said come on over. That started a deep & lasting friendship. He needed no help with his photography, as you all know, but he made a birder out of me. We traveled & photographed frequently over the years. Time with Greg was always inspirational and fun. Like the rest of you, I am heartbroken. But I am also feeling very blessed to have know this great man for so many years. He used to kick us out of bed early, saying "we'll sleep in our next lifetime", but I doubt if he's slowed down a bit.

Posted by dosvenadas about 2 months ago (Flag)
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Such sadness to hear that Greg passed. He always helped me with ID's and never was bothered while I learn.
A great man and a legend in animal photography.

Posted by carolr about 1 month ago (Flag)
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From Cheryl, Greg's Wife....Greg will be laid to rest in the Texas State Cemetery, 909 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702, on Wednesday, March 10, at 1 pm. All who wish to participate are welcome. Covid precautions requested.

Posted by jcabbott about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Greg Lasley's family, friends, former police colleagues, and fellow naturalists gathered today at 1 pm in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin to say "adios" to this remarkable, unassuming, driven, and generally incredible guy.

The Cemetery, like a lot of TX right now, looked slightly weathered from the recent week-long deep freeze that enveloped the entire state from Feb. 11-18. Today's weather hinted at spring though, with warm moist Gulf air moving through under slightly overcast skies.

The Austin Police Department provided an honor guard, replete with a bag piper and coronet player. After short talks about Greg by several folks involved in different phases of his life, the honor guard ceremony capped the gathering in a most poignant fashion.

I like to think some of Greg's bird friends dropped by, too, since a blue jay, red-tailed hawk, and a 7-mourning dove flyover (in an unknown formation) made themselves known towards the end of the ceremony.

'Twas a fitting send-off for a friend & mentor for many, one who truly enjoyed a life well-lived. Vaya con la luz, mi hermano, lo seguiremos lo suficientemente pronto.

Posted by mikmurphy about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Thank you so much for such a wonderful post and your great friendship with Greg and Cheryl over the years.

Posted by paulbrick about 1 month ago (Flag)
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My wife and I were lucky to meet Greg during the Dragonfly Society of the Americas meeting in both Jasper and Bastrop in the summer of 2019, He was a gracious host who did his best to make sure we got to see the dragonflies we wanted to see. Even at the end of a very hot day he was willing to take us to one of his special locations where he knew the homeowner. He gave us great tips on where to find things and even told us where to get great Texas BBW (Kreuz Market). He will be missed.

Posted by dkaralun about 1 month ago (Flag)
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Greg was an amazing fountain of knowledge and helpfulness. I don't know how he did all of the things he did. I really don't. His contributions were irreplaceable. His website is still my go-to source for information about dragonflies. There's a whole lot else on there, though. I would rest easier if I knew for sure that his website was safe for future generations. Does anyone know if that is being managed by someone now? If there are any hosting costs or other considerations, I would be happy to locate funding for that. It is truly a large educational achievement of his. One of many.

Posted by bennypoo 22 days ago (Flag)
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@bennypoo et al. Yes, Greg's website is secure for many years to come. greglasley.com is well-maintained; both the domain name and the hosting platform are being taken care of.

Posted by gcwarbler 22 days ago (Flag)
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@gcwarbler Thank you so much for letting me know. I really appreciate it. Without Greg, I still wouldn't know how to tell a Needham's skimmer from a golden-winged skimmer.

Posted by bennypoo 21 days ago (Flag)
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The April issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine's cover story, Dragonfly Chasers, discusses the burgeoning interest in documenting odonates in TX and notes contributions by Greg, among others. Managing editor Russell Roe also pays tribute to Greg in his "From the Editor" column. (I just checked the magazine website, the April content is not posted yet.)

Posted by mikmurphy 20 days ago (Flag)
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I just found out about his death in the latest Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine issue. I'm sad to hear it. I know he helped me on several identifications over the years.

Posted by oceanicwilderness 8 days ago (Flag)
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Posted by sambiology 8 days ago (Flag)

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