Bill Brockner 1915 – 2008
Sylvia Brockner 1919 -
Bill was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He served in the army in North Africa and Italy during World War II. Sylvia was from Eden, NY. They married in 1940.
Bill’s job as an accountant with General Motors caused them to relocate to Colorado in 1965; by choice, they settled in Evergreen.
Bill had a lifelong passion for birding, logging 754 bird sightings, which ranked him in the top 100 in the American Birding Association. As of 2008, he was one of just 17 people in the US (2 in Colorado) to identify and record 700 bird species on the North American continent.
During the early 1990s, Sylvia and Bill identified a Baikal teal (duck) spending time on Upper Bear Creek, a bird seldom seen on the North American continent. (The Baikal teal is found in abundance around Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia, the oldest and deepest lake in the world with a habitat for about 1,100 plants and animals not found anywhere else in the world.) In the days following, the highly unusual sighting drew news reporters and bird watchers from all over wanting to get a glimpse, but the sighting was never officially recognized.
Bill and Sylvia founded The Evergreen Naturalists in 1968, which later became The Evergreen Naturalists Audubon Society (TENAS), renamed Evergreen Audubon and Nature Center in 2010.
For many years Bill wrote a monthly bird column in the club newsletter and recorded the daily bird counts at Evergreen Lake. Since 1972 Sylvia has written – and illustrated with her original drawings – a weekly nature column entitled “Our Evergreen World” for the Canyon Courier, compiling a collection of more than 2,000 columns as of this date. A sampling of her drawings have been made into note cards and are available for purchase. She was also a long-time member of the Evergreen Garden Club. Bill was a lifetime member of the Evergreen Kiwanis Club, serving as President along the way.
Sylvia was a “respected voice for conservation” throughout her lifetime, employed by the Buffalo Museum of Science for more than 25 years and playing a significant role in the acquisition of two nature preserves in western New York State prior to her move to Evergreen. In Colorado, she was instrumental in getting Jefferson County Open Space to acquire land for what would become the Lair O’ the Bear Open Space Park in 1987, after trying unsuccessfully to get the Audubon Society to acquire the land as a sanctuary because of its habitat for both plants and birds. “It was the last wild section of Bear Creek that was accessible to the public,” Sylvia explained.
Sylvia was a licensed bird bander for 30 years, helping to map bird migrations and gather additional information of value. She was a founding member of the Mountain Area Land Trust in 1993, which, over the years, helped to preserve thousands of acres of open lands within 50 miles of Evergreen.
The Brockners campaigned with others to ensure that the wetlands around Evergreen Lake were not destroyed when the Lakehouse was built in 1993, effecting construction of a boardwalk over the wetlands. A bench on that boardwalk was dedicated to Bill after his death.
Sylvia and Bill (posthumously) were awarded the Evergreen Audubon Founders’ Award in 2011, recognizing them “as Evergreen’s foremost educators in birds and plants and advocates for protection of the environment.”
Sylvia published a book entitled Birds in our Evergreen World, which is being revised for publication later in 2011.
Sources: Sylvia Brockner, Evergreen, Our Mountain Community (Sternberg)
In 2016 Sylvia was inducted into the Jefferson County Hall of Fame.