Warren Sessink, behind the man
Most of my heroes from the world of Pigeons are passed on when I write of them. In one way or another,
they have had a meaningful impact on my life, past and present. Looking forward, with the chance to pay
homage to my heroes while they are still around gives more meaning to the word.
WP as I call him, go back to 1978 while he was in the L.A. area starting with birds. What started as casual
conversation, along with my other hero, Roy Hunter, the three of us began a friendship that lasts to this
day. Warren used to come and visit me in Northern California and spend time just breaking bread and
Warren is a rather humble guy, not one to toot his horn. I urged him to do this article because WP has
had some milestones in his Pigeon career both on the West Coast and also in Michigan that are non-
pariel. Milestones that may never be reached again soon, by anyone.
The following gives you insight into both his personal side and his life with the birds.
About Warren Sessink/ the man/ the birds
How and when did you get started?
Bill, it was the year 1978, while living in So. California at 40 years of age. I had been involved in field trialing bird
dogs and I used racing pigeons for training purposes. The person I purchased pigeons from was active in the
racing pigeon sport. I listened and truly became fascinated. It wasn’t long before I joined the local racing pigeon
club, built an especially nice 4-section loft and converted a large quail aviary into a stock loft. I was hooked, off
Tell me about mentors/people that meant a lot to you in getting on track.
It was All American and Disney Award winner Roy Hunter, from the CA. bay area, who was truly my mentor; with
frequent back and forth letters and phone calls, he really got me on track in my management. I had written three
All American flyers for advice and Roy was the only one that showed interest in me. That first year, he sent me a
kit of youngsters to fly and would not accept any money. It’s been a long time since Roy has passed and he still
comes to mind. I’ll always appreciate and never forget Roy Hunter.
Bill Droessler, a long-time top-notch pigeon flyer and real gentleman, meant a lot to me in my earlier days. Bill was
a member of the club I joined. There were many flyers that shared their knowledge in those earlier days, which I’ll
always appreciate, but Bill took a special interest in me. As I grew in the sport, it was easy to see how genuinely
happy he was for me when I did well.
There were many experiences that I could share about Bill, but one in particular stands out. This took place on my
very first race. I had 18 yb’s on my team. Totally on his own, he showed up at my home and said “let’s take a look
at your birds and let me help you pick your team”. Giving me his thoughts, he went through each bird, telling me
what to look for. He found 9 that he felt were race ready and suggested I ship just those. Did so, and would you
believe, two came together, taking 1st and 2nd, 10 minutes ahead!
Word got around when I clocked and when I arrived at the club house for clock reading, I could clearly hear Bill
loudly saying, over and over, “school’s out”!!! He made it clear that there would be no more help going forward!
But the very next day, he called me to discuss how perhaps I should manage my team to prepare them for the
Bill lived close by and we shared a good amount of time together. He passed away several years ago. I miss him
and feel honored to have been his friend.
Where/who did you get your birds from?
It didn’t take long for me to realize to be successful in this highly competitive sport of ours, you better have the
pigeon capable of flying to the front! Yes, management is very important, but what matters most is the “pigeon”.
And I put huge effort into getting good ones!
Early on, I began communicating with Jules Gallez from Belgium, asking him to comment on several pedigrees. Mr.
Gallez offered me six adult pigeons that he felt strongly about, ones he felt would serve me my entire pigeon
career; he sure was right about that. I imported those 6; all produced winners, but
the best turned out to be the Stichelbauts. This blood still flows in my family of birds. They have meant so much to
the success I’ve enjoyed over all these years. Before he died, I made sure Mr. Gallez knew how well his
Stichelbauts performed and how much I appreciated such class pigeons.
Nick Robertis, a highly respected CA fancier, had contacts and knowledge and it was he that made it possible for
me to purchase three highly-inbred Gus Callens pigeons. These three made a definite impact, breeding winners
and breeders of winners, making me look very good on many occasions. I sure do appreciate Nick arranging this
That first year, I took a trip to Detroit and purchased youngsters from Mrs. Mary Veegaete. The quality and class
of those Veegaete pigeons (Genettes and Torreken Bekaerts) were pretty incredible. I purchased 8 freshly-
weaned youngsters for what may seem hard to believe- $25 each. One Genette hen bred several winners,
including two in one nest. Paul and Mary Veegaete made a profound contribution to our sport.
I purchased an auction youngster bred by a good friend, Dick Earthman, off of his famous hit Bekaert pair . She
was my best overall flying pigeon in CA, winning, two 1st auctions as a y/b (300-mile races) in tough competition.
She went on to be a super o/b and had a lot to do with me outright winning the prestigious CA state “Disney
Award, 101 lofts and above”. She, 2331, and her mate, 1564 (foundation Stichelbaut) were truly a hit pair. I have
a special spot in my heart for this hen. I was a new flyer competing in the highly competitive 140-member Inland
Empire Combine, and she made me look good time and time again.
I could go on even more, but the above fanciers were truly key in getting me on track..
Please tell us about your awards/achievements in the sport.
I’ve never kept detailed records and am reluctant to say much; however, there are some major achievements that
I feel especially good about.
In California I flew with So. California’s largest combine, The Inland Empire. Here I won many races, average
speeds, bird of the year awards at club and combine levels.
One great experience with a direct Stichelbaut child from the Gallez birds, was winning 1st Overall, Inland Empire
Combine, 550 miles. I was new to the sport (2nd year). At the awards banquet, I was given a beautiful clock
trophy. Danny Hinds came over to our table to congratulate me, saying that in all his years, he’d never seen a
new flyer achieve an overall win at that distance. Can you imagine how that felt?!
An especially meaningful award my club had was an impressive perpetual trophy for winning o/b Average Speed.
This had to be achieved three consecutive years to be retired. In my first two years of flying o/bs in this highly
competitive club, I won it both years. My company (Kmart) then transferred me to our home office in Detroit, MI.. A
club meeting was held and the membership voted for me to take that trophy with me even though I had won it just
the two years; for the members to do that meant a lot.
In that last year of Califoria flying, with both the old and young series considered, I managed to win 1st Combine
Average Speed. Here I was a 2-year flyer up against 140 members, many of which were strong,
highly motivated, and very experienced flyers. I left CA on a high note. I was told several years after I had left that
I was still remembered as a fierce competitor and gentleman. As you can imagine, hearing that felt good!
Bill, I think to this day, one of the awards that means the most to me was in1981 outright winning California’s
prestigious “Disney Award”, 101 lofts and above, beating out many terrific flyers, the likes of Art Hees, Brad
Laverne, etc. This is where every race flown in the year, both young and old, is considered by the committee; no
race can be thrown out. A beautiful hand-made trophy sits right behind my desk; looking at it still brings a
smile…even after all these years.
It probably goes without saying, it was tough leaving California, moving to Detroit, MI. However, our families live in
Michigan and Indiana, so this made the move easier. Also, I knew the racing pigeon sport was alive and well in
Detroit. That, too, helped with my attitude toward the move.
Here in Detroit, ’84 YB’s was the first that I was able to fly an entire series and I won 5 out of the 12 club races
and 1st Overall Average Speed. At that time our club had 25 active flyers, the combine had 70+. The one major
race I entered in ’83 was the 300-mile Michigan State Gold Band YB Race. With a 6-bird entry, our youngsters
came in 2nd, 5th, 15th, and 17th in the entire state. With this showing, I believe I gained some respect!
Bill, Old Bird flying has always been my favorite and much of my attention went to it, especially in those earlier
What I’m most proud of is that in four successive years (’96, ’97, ’98, and ’99), I won all 4 Suburban Motor City
Combine old bird awards offered: Average Speed, Champion Loft, King Champion, and Bird of the Year. Again,
must admit, this is an achievement I’m “really” proud of. For a flyer to win all 4 awards for even one year is difficult
to do, but for four years running!!! Bill, one example, in 1998, we won OB Combine Champion Loft with 3915
points. The runner-up loft (2nd place) accumulated 1070 points. It was pointed out on the series race results that
I had placed birds in point-achieving positions 67 times in the 9-race o/b series! That same year, ’98, we won
Combine Champion Old Bird of the Year, and the runner-up, placing 6 out of the first 10 positions! The other 3
years were pretty much like this. Bill, those were some great, memorable years. Back then, old bird flying was very
competitive, with strong, dedicated flyers. With all this success, as you can imagine, it didn’t sit well with many of
my competitors. But for sure, I did my best to remain humble.
There were several years that I got away from y/b racing. To do well in both young and old requires so much time
and commitment. But, even to this day, I still find myself competing in and enjoying the y/b special races. Here in
Detroit, there is still good competition and that excites me. One memory that will always stay with me was having 7
on the drop in the Classic, taking 3 through 9 positions from 350 miles in weather that wasn’t very good. My 7
birds came in a moderate rain when I had doubts that there would even be any day birds. And what really topped
it off was having 10 come together not long after the 7- all 17 in the prizes. I’ll never forget that day!
The following year, I managed to take 1st and 2nd in the Classic and two weeks later 1st and 2nd in the Motor
City (both major y/b races, 350 miles). There were 1471 birds in the Motor City. That was a great year!
Please tell me about “The Good Hen”…your long distance Champion.
She was the best, most consistent, long distance bird I’ve ever had. I have many wonderful memories of her
incredible feats. The memory that comes to mind first was the time she clocked at 9:31 P.M. with darkness very
close (15 hours and 1min. on the wing)- the “Michigan State 500” (open to the entire state). There were just two
day birds on this side of the state. She took 2nd, getting beat by Lenny Luther’s great cock, LV 350…19 miles
short of me. That really woke me up as to just how good she really was and that’s when I named her “The Good
I remember a 400 when she took 4th Federation with a full 20p, which is a huge deal here in Detroit! Detroit flies
the Belgium system. And it was especially nice to get a call from one of Detroit’s best flyers, Orrie Ostrander,
congratulating me on that accomplishment, for she had beat his champion widowhood cock out of that 20P! She
went on to win 1st Ace Pigeon of the USA- long distance category. She was “Champion OB of the Year” for the
Suburban Motor City Combine. What really made the award even more special was that all her championship
points came from races 350 on out (this included a 400 and both 500’s).
She was a sweet, quiet, rather tame pigeon. She always stayed in the background. When she arrived home, she
never made any fanfare, never circling the loft. She would simply fly down quietly to the landing board and go in.
When she died, I buried her in our forest, along with our daughter’s pet pigeon, Peep-Peep and our pit bull,
“The Good Hen” certainly has had an effect on my life. How often does it happen to be blessed with a pigeon like
this? She was a once-in-a- lifetime pigeon. She made me look good on so many occasions and she doesn’t even
know it. I miss her and she will not be forgotten.
I understand your daughter was also interested in pigeons. Please tell me about her interest,
Yes, Laura, our daughter showed great interest from 9 years of age right on through to when she left for college.
Even after that, right through to this day, she still wants to be kept abreast.
It’s for certain without Laura it would have been more difficult for me. Business would quite often take me away
from home, even as much as 2 weeks when I’d go overseas. Following her dad’s detailed instructions, she would
do a very good job caring for the birds in my absence. But at her young age, she sometimes used her own
judgment, which I did not discourage. I remember one time that I had left on Sunday P.M. and returned on Friday.
She increased food quantities above my guidelines, only to win 1st Combine and other high positions (close to
1500 birds, 113 lofts). She had the touch!
Another story comes to mind…Laura, at age 9, seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to pigeons. Our 300-
mile Futurity YB Classic was a tough race. We had been waiting for a long time, when all of a sudden she
announced that “Ready” (her red check cock) had stopped at the Santa Anna River for a drink and he would be
home shortly. Would you believe, just a couple minutes later, here came her pet to take 2nd in the Golden Empire
It’s been a lot of years now that she’s been on her own, but she still shows interest, all the way from Seattle, WA.
A couple years back I won the 2nd Classic YB Special. Driving home from the clubhouse late that evening, she
was the first person I called. Amazing, the joy she felt for me.
It’s been wonderful sharing in the sport with Laura. On race day, I was so serious and excited, but with her
around, it tended to calm me down. We made a good team- with my intensity and her calm manner. I’m indeed
lucky to have her as my daughter!
Bill, in addition to Laura’s support, it’s important that I express just how much my wife, Patty, has meant to me all
these years. She has been supportive and helpful in this all-consuming sport of ours. She knows how competitive
I am and just how much this sport has meant to me; I sure do appreciate her.
What’s happening now? I see you are not as active in racing as you once were.
Bill, I’m in the winter of my life, not as active in racing and, must admit, feel some sadness because of this. Even
though I have incredible love of o/b flying, I haven’t flown old birds for maybe 10 years now. When we moved here
to Detroit 31 years ago, there was great emphasis given to o/b flying, but not so anymore, especially in recent
years. And with this significant erosion of interest and participation, this has dampened my enthusiasm for o/b
Still, I find myself competing in the y/b “specials”. We have prestigious y/b races here in Detroit with good
participation that still excite and I simply cannot ignore. These races create serious “fire in the belly” for me, and I’
m really happy for that!
Bill, there surely have been disappointments along the way, but there have been many great experiences as well,
experiences that will never be forgotten. I’ve made so many wonderful friends such as you who mean so much to
me. Bill, I have great memories of the time we shared, especially back in those early California days.
IT’S BEEN A GREAT RIDE...with still more to go!
Warren, heres wishing you many more years of success in our great sport.