On Friday, his family will keep his memory and his passion alive by making it a permanent part of the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. A plaque in his honor will be placed at the first observation deck on the Spit, and a lecture will be given by an ornithologist whose visit to Homer was made possible by a new memorial funded by Schantz's family.
Schantz was a "superbirder" and a longtime volunteer at the Kachemak Bay festival said his former boss, Bob Dittrick, owner of Wilderness Birding Adventures in Anchorage. He died of a heart attack last year in Nome while guiding birders, Dittrick said. Schantz was 36.
"He really liked the shorebird festival. He was always down in Homer," Dittrick said. Consequently, when Schantz's family decided to create a memorial in his honor, they chose the Kachemak Bay festival.
"They wanted to do something that would be in his lasting memory, and birding was his passion. They wanted to continue turning people onto birding."
Part of the memorial fund will be used every year to bring an ornithologist to the festival. This year the guest lecturer is Josh Engel, a student at Pomona College in California, who speaks at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge on the subject "Birds Above the Tree Line."