It is with a very heavy heart that I report one of my dearest friends, mentors, and an icon in the fly fishing community, Charlie Meyers, outdoors editor of the Denver Post, passed away last night after a brave battle with cancer.
For those of us who live in the Rocky Mountain region, Charlie was an institution. He covered various outdoors angles for the Post (in arguably the most outdoorsy major metro market in America) since 1966. Always eloquent, always sharp, his work in the paper made him a trusted friend and advisor to millions of outdoors enthusiasts. In person, he was an incredibly gracious man. He was the kind of individual whose presence positively changed the atmosphere in a room as soon as he walked in it.
My first connection with Charlie came eight years ago, when I cold-called him to see if I could send him a review copy of a book I had just written. To my surprise, Charlie already had the book; to my greater surprise, he suggested that, instead of a standard interview, we go “fish on it.” We did, and soon thereafter, he wrote a very nice review that effectively boosted my writing career. Interestingly, Charlie admitted to me that what he liked most about that book (called Castwork, which profiled western fly fishing guides on their home waters) was that he wished he had done that project himself.
Ironically, as I got to know Charlie in subsequent years, I realized that a book on guides might be the only thing, in fact, that Charlie had not done himself. This soft-spoken gentleman who originally hailed from Sicily Island, Louisiana, had fished with Lee Wulff and many many other icons of this sport. He survived a bush plane crash in the Northwest Territories… he traveled up a river in Nicaragua to encounter a witch doctor… he caught tiger fish in Africa, and more bonefish and tarpon on the flats than most of us could imagine… he had an uncanny understanding of every creek and canyon in his beloved Colorado and far beyond… and he was keenly in tune with all the environmental issues of the day. His work spread beyond the outdoors; over his decorated career he covered the skiing industry (earning hall-of-fame recognition), the Olympic Games, and many other angles.
The highest honor I can pay to Charlie is to say he was the consummate writer, and he always let his work do the talking, without so much as a scant trace of “been there-done that” ego. Other writers at the Post note now that “nobody could turn a phrase, nor interest a reader with quite the same effect that Charlie could.” The fact that this great writer chose the outdoors beat is nothing short of amazing fortune for all of us who read his stories, and no doubt are benefiting from his influence in spreading the gospel of fishing and hunting over several generations. I just got a note from a colleague of his at the Post that simply said: “Charlie was nothing short of a poet. In his life and with his words.” I could not agree more. I do not think we will ever see any outdoors writer quite like him again.
I consider myself blessed to have traveled and fished with Charlie many times in recent years. He took me under his wing, showed me his spots, and tutored me over lunch dates, advising me to “always be a writer who fishes, and not a fisherman who writes.” We collaborated on a book that will be released this spring. I am grateful that he saw the finished manuscript before he passed. In typical Charlie fashion, our last editorial “engagement” was over his insistence that we place my name first on the cover. He won that argument, but there is no doubt that Charlie’s legacy will always be foremost in my mind, in all the work I do, going forward.
Godspeed Charlie. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart.