Conrad man collects eagle imagery
Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series profiling the various personal collections of residents of Marshalltown and the surrounding area.
CONRAD — The Great Seal of the United States, which prominently features the Bald Eagle, was adopted on June 20, 1782. Many Americans since that time have developed great admiration and respect for this bird, native only to North America. With over 60 species of eagles known to the world, its image has become universally recognized. For Gary Stattler of Conrad, the eagle has symbolized his long-time involvement with the National Eagle Scout Association.
“I was an Eagle Scout as a youth, and stayed very active with the group ever since,” he said. “Also, our son David completed the program in 1996.”
Only about five percent of all Boy Scouts ascend to the Eagle Scout rank.
His collecting of eagle imagery started in 1976 after he went through the Wood Badge course, which is an advanced leadership program within the Boy Scouts of America, open only to scouting volunteers and professionals.
“I was in the eagle group. There’s a rivalry with the other groups (all named after animals) as the course develops,” he noted. “After that, suddenly eagle [items] would appear as birthday and Christmas presents.”
Stattler’s collection of eagle memorabilia totals about 50 pieces and includes: statues, book ends, figurines, paper weights, Christmas ornaments, plates, snow globes, magnets, beer steins, prints, pens, blankets, stuffed animals, and one-of-a-kind pieces.
“My favorite eagle look is in flight,” he said.
The collector noted that his collection is not displayed in any one specific locale, but rather, is kept in storage with a few pieces interspersed throughout his home.
“My wife Mary’s cut glass collection and cat things are out now,” he noted. “It’s easy to take care of Christmas and birthdays; I give her cat stuff, and she gives me eagle stuff.”
Stattler has items in his collection which are most special, including his eagle watch and an original bronze sculpture.
“My favorite thing in the collection is a white porcelain eagle — it was a gift from my camp staff in 2009,” he said. “For seven years I directed summer camp programs in Iowa, first at Marble Rock, then at Ingawanis.”
In addition to his involvement with the Eagle Scouts, Stattler is also a potter with a home art studio. For 32 years he served as an art instructor at Miller Middle School, while his wife worked as a vocal music teacher at BCLUW Community School District.
“Mary’s job brought us to Conrad in 1965,” Stattler explained. “We were both originally from rural Iowa County and went to high school together.”
In his free time, Stattler is an avid bird watcher.
“If you ask him a question about an eagle, he’ll know the answer,” Mary said.
Still active with the local Boy Scouts, Stattler gives every boy who completes his Eagle Scout certification a pocket knife with an eagle on it. He currently is an advisor to the Order of the Arrow, a service organization and the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America.
What does Stattler like about his collection?
“[Eagles] are our national symbol. They’re very proud looking and elegant. Eagles are my thing,” Stattler concluded.
If you collect something interesting or unusual, contact this writer at the information below.
Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org