Frank Bond, 1943-2013: Most passionate fight for attorney, lawmaker was falcon preservation

Frank M. Bond

Photo by Melanie West

By Staci Matlock
The New Mexican

A public memorial will be held in the spring for New Mexico native Frank M. Bond, an expert falconer, former state representative and longtime attorney who died of cancer on Christmas Day. He was 70.

Bond’s victories in the legal world encompassed state and federal courts. But his work preserving falcons and practicing the art of falconry captured his deepest passion.

Being a falconer “is so complex,” Bond once told a reporter. “It’s a lifelong commitment, something that’s constant and daily.”

Bond was one of four men who helped launch The Peregrine Fund in 1970 to help save the endangered raptor. The falcon was on the verge of extinction then, said J. Peter Jenny, president of the nonprofit organization based in Boise, Idaho.

The efforts of Bond and others with the group saved the falcon, boosting breeding pairs from fewer than 50 to more than 3,000, Jenny said. “It became arguably one of the largest, most successful endangered species recovery efforts in history,” he said.

Bond became a falconer in his early 20s while he was a student at Colorado College. He served as counsel for The Peregrine Fund and the North American Falconer’s Association. As president of the International Association of Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey, Bond is credited with convincing the United Nations to recognize falconry in 2010 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In a statement, the North American Falconers’ Association said it had lost not only a friend, “but a giant in the global falconry community. … He was a supremely effective advocate for our sport in arenas as diverse as local city councils, state legislatures, the U.S. federal government and international negotiations.”

At The Simons Law Firm, where he was a partner, Bond focused on advising businesses and property owners in real estate, contract, natural resource and water law.

Bond was born in 1943 in Albuquerque. He finished a degree in Spanish and taught for awhile before earning his law degree at The University of New Mexico.

He helped people, not just falcons. In 2003, he helped St. Michael’s High School graduate Valerie Rivera land a hefty scholarship and a spot on the softball team at Colorado College, his alma mater. She graduated four years later.

Bond was chairman of the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education and served on the board of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Foundation. He also served on the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission.

Bond, a Republican, served as a state representative from Santa Fe’s District 47 from 1977 to 1980. He made unsuccessful runs for governor in 1986 and in 1990. He lost the last to his friend, Democrat Bruce King.

Bond was described as an old-style politician who knew how to fight hard for his position but reach across the aisle to collaborate and get things done. “He was successful because he refused to recognize labels, but instead saw the merits of individuals, regardless of party affiliation,” said his longtime law partner and friend Tom Simons. “He understood the value and importance of respect, compromise and friendship, and that people with profound differences can still find common ground.”

“My father was one of those people who was very good at seeing people for who they were, regardless of their background and income,” said his son Franklin H. Bond. “His friends ranged from billionaires to auto mechanics who were in the pigeon club with him.”

His ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds played well in the falconry world, too. His friends in that world stretched from the United States to the United Arab Emirates.

Jenny said Bond was skilled at negotiations between private land owners, conservationists and government entities over the often contentious issues around saving the peregrine and aplomado falcons. “Frank could deal very eloquently with very difficult political issues,” Jenny said.

Bond’s family roots in New Mexico date back four generations. His great-grandfather Frank Bond owned mercantile and wool enterprises in Española in the late 1800s. The famous Bond home in Española was an architectural delight that served as city hall for a time after the city bought the home from the family.

The Bonds also ranched for a time in the Valle Grande in what is now the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains. Frank Bond spent summers there as a youth, and it had a profound impact on his life, his son said. “It caused him to want to lead an outdoor life,” Franklin Bond said.

In addition to Franklin Bond and his wife, Amy, of Santa Fe, survivors include a daughter, Sara Easterson-Bond and husband Tom of Santa Fe; sisters Amy Lynge of San Francisco and Maryann Bunten (Dan) of Albuquerque.

The family has not yet set a date for the planned public memorial in the spring.