Roy Lee DeWitt, master falconer, died of pancreatic cancer at 61

Instead, DeWitt carried a falcon or hawk to a meadow, forest or lake and released it to catch rabbits, squirrels and ducks.

"To watch Roy handle a bird, everything looked so natural and fluid when he did it," said Bill Mixon, who was taught falconry by DeWitt. "To do falconry well relies on a very fragile bond between you and the bird. ... It is an empathetic thing. If you saw Roy with a falcon, you would probably say he is making the bird do all these amazing things, but what he is really doing is exploiting what he knows the bird will do."

Born in Missouri, DeWitt got started in falconry — a term that includes hawks, falcons and eagles — as a 12-year-old boy when he chopped down a tree to get his first hawk. An Army vet, Pentecostal preacher, computer consultant and teacher, he spent a lifetime pursuing falconry and nurturing the sport, which has only 160 licensed falconers in Georgia and 4,000 nationwide. He took time to educate the public and mentor apprentice falconers, his friends said.

He sketched red-tailed and Cooper's hawks, and the drawings were sold on the Internet along with a DVD he produced that captured the nesting cycle of five species of hawk and an osprey and took five years to complete. He was a past president of the Georgia Falconry Association.

"He was known nationally in the falconry community," said Alan Drury, who hunted with DeWitt. "There are a lot of people all the way to Oregon who know him and will remember him fondly. He was a helluva guy."

Roy Lee DeWitt, 61, of Marietta, died July 3 of pancreatic cancer. He was cremated, and his family will have a service at the National Cemetery in Canton at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

He grew up in High Ridge, Mo., where he ran track, played football and powerlifted, said his daughter, Lydia DeWitt of Alpharetta. He overcame a childhood speech impediment and developed passions for photography and falconry, often combining the two arts, Ms. DeWitt said.

While in the Army stationed in Korea he met his wife, Suk Cha, and was married to her for 39 years, Ms. DeWitt said. In their early years, Mr. DeWitt moved the family from church to church to minister to new congregations, his daughter said. In 1989, he published a book, "Teaching From the Tabernacle," and again pursued an evangelical and lecture circuit.

"We moved so many times — all around Illinois," the 36-year-old Ms. DeWitt said. "He would say, 'God is calling me to preach.' "

He and his wife moved to Marietta to be closer to her brother, who had moved from Korea to Gwinnett County, and who was later killed by a drunken driver, Ms. DeWitt said. Her father worked as a computer instructor at technical schools; at Micro Center, an electronics and computer store; and as a computer programmer, she said.

"He was smart and inquisitive — he was a philosopher," Mr. Mixon said. "He was deeply religious and a very spiritual guy."

In 2006, he and his wife moved to Oklahoma because he was a member of the Potawatomi tribe and he could qualify for medical benefits, Ms. DeWitt said.

Her father was a skilled carpenter, and her parents converted a barn into a house during their stay in Oklahoma. They lived in the barn during the conversion.

"When Mom showed me a picture of it, I said, 'Dad put you in that?' " Ms. DeWitt said. "They didn't have any AC or anything. They were living like they were on 'Little House on the Prairie.' "

But she said her parents turned the barn into a nice house. Then her father suffered a stroke in 2007, and she brought her parents back to metro Atlanta and got them a place in Norcross.

"When we brought them back, he couldn't even tie his shoe and his face drooped," she said. "So we took him to a Korean lady and she did acupuncture and pretty much got him normal."

They joined the Free Chapel Worship Center in Gainesville, and Drury said his friend was soon back in the woods; he even made a few hawking trips after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December.

The cancer caught the family by surprise since Mr. DeWitt's health seemed to be returning, his daughter said.

"He went with a smile, though," she said. "He left with a little smile on his face. He was at peace."

Besides his wife and daughter, Mr. DeWitt is survived by his mother, Lorine Huff of High Ridge; his son, Sylas; three grandchildren; and a sister. Another son, Titus, his father and two brothers preceded him in death.