LASLEY, GREGORY WILLIAM (1949 ~ 2021). The following is an obituary for Gregory William Lasley, spouse of former Texas Criminal Court of Appeals Judge Cheryl Johnson. The obituary was provided by Cook-Walden Funeral Home of Austin.
Greg Lasley passed into eternity on January 30, 2021. He became an Eagle Scout at the age of 14, was a member of the Order of the Arrow, and spent 2 summers as a guide at Philmont Scout Ranch. Raised in a military family, he served in the US Air Force as a loadmaster from 1969 to 1973. After he left the Air Force, he became an Austin police officer, rising through the ranks to become a lieutenant. He retired from APD in 1997 and began the career that kept him busy for the rest of his life.
As a teenager, Greg began serious study of nature, beginning with venomous snakes. He worked in the snake exhibit at the Atlanta Zoo, milking snakes for their venom, and kept snakes in aquariums in the family basement. After his service in the Air Force, he became fascinated with birds after seeing Painted Buntings on his bird feeder in Austin. He began photographing birds because older birders sometimes challenged his claims that he had seen a bird that was rarely found in Austin. With photos in hand, he could prove that he had seen the rarities. He became well known as the expert on Texas rarities. Photography became a passion and a talent that he continued to develop. Many hundreds of his photographs have been published in magazines, reference books, and field guides, as well as in a book devoted to his photos. Later, Greg became interested in dragonflies and, as with birds, made himself a recognized expert on North American odonates.
For over two decades, Greg led bird-watching tours for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, traveling the western hemisphere and Antarctica to show others the wonders of the natural world. One of his greatest talents was as a gentle teacher and patient guide for nature lovers learning about birds and insects. Through his tireless efforts for the citizen-scientist data base, iNaturalist, Greg influenced nature lovers around the world, many of whom will miss his presence on that site, despite never having met him except online.
Greg is survived by his wife, Cheryl Johnson, his brothers, Don Bottorff and Jim Lasley, his sister, Billie Chapman, and in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and nature lovers around the world. Burial will be at the State Cemetery in Austin at 1 p.m. on March 10, 2021. A celebration of his life will be held when Covid-19 has slunk away into oblivion and we can once again gather to hug, laugh, cry, and tell stories about Greg. If you wish to celebrate Greg's life, please donate time and/or money to non-profits that save wildlife and wild places.
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Published in Austin American-Statesman from Mar. 5 to Mar. 8, 2021.