Gordie Charles passes away at age 86
May 09, 2007
The Tri-City Times lost a dear friend this past week, Gordie Charles. He had been providing us with his syndicated column for nearly 25 years. He was 86.
Gordie was one of Michigan's most prolific outdoor writers and photographers. A dedicated newspaper man, producing tremendous amounts of outdoor copy. He was a good man. Gordie's columns covered a wide array of outdoor news and tidbits. He called on his many outdoor experiences and knowledge in his writings and almost all were stamped with his legendary humor.
Friend and colleague Dave Richey once wrote, "There are two things to remember about Gordon Charles: He never met an outdoor story he didn't want to write and he never met a joke he couldn't laugh his way through...even when it isn't funny!"
Gordie was known in outdoor circles for his quick wit and insatiable appetite for puns. And there was no pun not worth telling in Gordie's mind. His love of puns led him to write a book of puns, titled, 'Stalking and Capturing the Wild Pun.'
He has been published in more than 500 publications and traveled to over 50 countries in search of outdoor tales.
I was first introduced to Gordie nearly 25 years ago, after the death of my father-in-law Marty Heim. He and Marty were close friends, both members of the Michigan Outdoors Writers Association and they loved hunting whitetails on South Fox Island. They shared a passion for the outdoors.
So it only seemed appropriate Gordie became our outdoor columnist in place of his friend Marty.
"Outdoors with Gordie" began running in 1983 and he never stopped providing us with copy, in fact there are still a couple columns in the editorial basket yet to run.
Over the years Gordie would call just to comment on the Tri-City Times, complimenting us on a news story, a layout or a special section. He was always encouraging.
When our Woods-N-Water News hit the streets in 1985, Gordie not only provided us with piles of copy, he was also a sounding board for me and our fledgling publication.
"Don't get too political," I recall Gordie advising. "The Woods-N-Water News should be filled with outdoor experiences, that is what people want to read, experiences, not what outdoor writers think they should experience."
It was good advice and we have tried to keep that philosophy in mind.
Gordie also provided us with copy for our farm publication, Michigan's Farm and Country Journal. His columns were a perfect fit.
Gordie was born in North Carolina in 1920, moving with his family to Traverse City Michigan in 1935. He is a veteran of World War II. In 1947 he married his wife, Dorothy, they raised three children in Traverse City area.
Gordie developed an intense love for the outdoors in northern Michigan and began an outdoor column in the Traverse City Record-Eagle in 1952. After a short stint in South Dakota he came back to Michigan in 1965 to become editor of Michigan Out-of-Doors.
Gordie has been published in hundreds of newspapers and up to the time of his death, he was still producing copy for his thousands of readers.
He led a grand life and touched the lives of many. We'll miss Gordie, his dedication to the publishing business, his professionalism, his kindness, and yes, his unique sense of humor.