[env-trinity] Serge Birk Obituary

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Dec 1 11:39:22 PST 2010

Serge Birk (1949 - 2010)




Serge Birk passed away on November 22, 2010 at his beloved "River Retreat"
in Dairyville, CA, with his wife and love of his life, Beth at his side.

A worldly man from the beginning, Serge and his twin sister Catherine were
born in Paris, France on March 23, 1949. The family moved to Montreal,
Canada in 1952, where, like most boys in Canada, he wanted to grow up to be
a professional hockey player. The hockey stick was easily replaced by a surf
board however when the family moved to southern California in 1959. Serge's
charm was noticed early on in the Golden State when talent scouts visiting
his elementary school chose him to appear on the popular Art Linkletter

Serge received his B.S. in Fisheries from Humboldt State University in 1973
and quickly put his education to good use as a Peace Corps volunteer in the
Philippines. He lived on the island of Ilo Ilo which was so isolated that he
did not learn of Nixon's resignation until he spotted a newspaper headline
referring to President Ford in Manila some weeks after the fact.

Serge worked on another global concern after he returned to the United
States. Serving as an observer with the NOAA Tuna-porpoise program, he
developed his own brand of d,tente while on Soviet fishing boats months at a
time. This program resulted in improved fishing techniques which
dramatically reduced mortalities of dolphins in commercial tuna fishing.

Serge then headed back to Palau. Known affectionately as "starfish man" on
the island, he developed a program to limit the population of starfish that
was destroying Palau's reef. To no small extent, his efforts contributed to
Palau remaining one of the most desired and pristine diving spots in the

Other public service included working for the Bureau of Reclamation, serving
as the Environmental Director for the Central Valley Project Water
Association, and most recently as the Natural Resource Manager for U.S.
Forest Service at Lassen National Forest. He was a proud member of Class
XXXI of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

Even those who briefly knew Serge knew his life-long passion was
aquaculture. He often joked, "Some people play golf, I grow fish." Serge
spearheaded two aquaculture enterprises. In conjunction with the Washoe
Tribe in Genoa, Nevada, Serge founded and operated Gourmet Prawnz, Inc. with
Dick Butler in the 1980s. Utilizing geothermal resources and innovative
techniques, they developed a sustainable system for prawn production. Later
he established Redclaw Lobster in Red Bluff, CA and held the only license in
California to grow the Australian Redclaw Lobster. His business also
included angel fish and koi.

Serge loved scuba diving, salmon fishing, Hawaiian shirts, photography,
collecting classic cars, "adopting" palm trees and succulents for his River
Retreat, practicing yoga, and listening to the Rolling Stones - all with his
trademark enthusiasm. He was also known for hosting an annual "40 -
Something" party for his wife.

Serge was a loyal and generous friend, a hardworking and innovative
colleague, and a loving, devoted, and protective brother. Most of all, he
had limitless love for Beth, his loving wife of 25 years. Together they
island hopped, collected ethnic art from around the world, and celebrated
every sunrise and sunset together on their piece of paradise on the
Sacramento River. One need only look at the numerous joyful photos of Serge
and Beth displayed at their home to recognize their love for each other.

Serge is survived by his wife Beth (Dairyville, CA), his twin sister
Catherine (Evanston, IL), his sister Natalie (Sacramento, CA),
brother-in-law and sister-in-law Del and Donna Whitaker (Elk Grove, CA),
nephew Sammy Wayhou, his niece Delany Whitaker, and in-laws Kay and Elbert

A celebration of Serge's life will be held Sunday, December 12 at 1:00 pm,
Los Molinos Veterans Hall, 7980 Sherwood Blvd. In lieu of flowers,
contributions in memory of Serge may be sent to Tehama County Education
Foundation for the SERRF program, P.O. Box 525, Red Bluff, CA 96080 and St.
Elizabeth Hospice, 1425 Vista Way, Red Bluff, CA 96080.



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 mobile

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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