Thu, 02/02/2023 - 2:39pm Kathryn
Charlie Weaver died at home last week after 80 years of a life fully-lived. He was born in Washington DC, grew up in Pennsylvania, lived for some years in Ann Arbor and a short time in western Canada, before moving to northern Michigan near Grayling to what became his permanent residence near his beloved Manistee River. During his time in Ann Arbor, he taught Special Education. He loved to teach and loved his students, but couldn't abide the paperwork and administration, prompting him to change careers he moved north and became a fly-fishing guide. He worked daily from the stern seat of the area's endemic Au Sable River Boats, guiding anglers from all over the world in search of wild trout on both the Manistee and the Au Sable Rivers. Charlie was a true naturalist; indeed, one long-time friend describes him as a North Woods Renaissance Man. In addition to his love of fishing, he was an incredibly accomplished birder. His last known life list included as many as 950 species worldwide. He was an accomplished arborist who could name every tree in the woods. And though he didn't hunt, he was a championship marksman in high school. Not surprisingly, Charlie was a noted advocate for the environment through his efforts in stream improvement, water quality studies, and conservation. He was a valued member and contributor to the Sierra Club. Throughout his life, he defended best those people, creatures, and special places that couldn't defend themselves. He loved to travel, often to see new birds or fish new trout streams. He visited New Zealand many times, as well as Australia and made many trips to Mexico and Central America. Many will remember Charlie for his musicianship. He had a remarkably beautiful, strong, resonant, deep voice and played a number of instruments well. Though he mostly interpreted the music of others, he did write one song in recent years to protest the Line 5 pipeline under the Great Lakes. He was also identified with Jim O'Dell, the "local ne'er-do-well" character in his friend Jay Stielstra's musical play, North Country Opera. Prior to the play's most recent tour in October, Charlie had played the role in all but one production over four decades. As O'Dell, Charlie sang one of the play's iconic songs, with lyrics that feel appropriate to the man as well as the character: "Hand me down my fly rod, hand me down my gun Dress me in my waders when my days on earth are done. Dump me in some corner in Northern Michigan And wrap my stiffened fingers 'round a Pabst Blue Ribbon can. Oh, that will be Heaven for Me! Buried in the North Land, in God's country!" Cremation has taken place. A gathering of Charlie's friends will be scheduled for the spring of 2023 on the banks of the Au Sable. Charlie's forward-thinking instructions for this occasion were simple: "Good acoustic music, and no drums!" For information on this gathering, contact Josh@GatesLodge.com Friends can consider honoring Charlie's memory with donations to the Sierra Club, Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, Audubon Society of Michigan, or Anglers of the AuSable.