A legacy: Meyers remembered as fine outdoor writer
Two deaths snagged the attention of the state’s outdoors world this week.
The first was the passing of Charlie Meyers, undoubtedly among the most talented, most respected and most competitive of a fast-vanishing breed, the newspaper outdoors writer.
Meyers, 72, died Tuesday of complications from cancer, which slowly wasted his body but even to the end had seemingly no effect on his wit, acumen or writing skills.
It’s no stretch to say Meyers, who grew up in a tiny Louisiana town and eventually became world-renowned for his finely-crafted coverage of skiing and the outdoors world, stirred hearts and souls every day for the four decades he covered the outdoors beat for the Denver Post as well as most of the major outdoors and ski magazines.
He was a natural, whether it came to fishing, hunting, making people comfortable or, as he did so much better than the rest of us, sculpting the English language into vivid mind-pictures that leapt off the page and into your imagination.
His writing was such that people not ordinarily interested in outdoor pursuits would regularly read his articles, simply because they were so well-tuned and delightfully entertaining, something notably rare in most outdoors writing and sadly so in newspaper journalism.
Meyers covered six Olympics, was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1993 and in 1999 became just the fourth America writer to be was awarded the FIS Journalist Award from the International Ski Federation.
But the outdoors was his first love and in 1997 he quit splitting his writing time to concentrate on hunting and fishing and the fascinating stories accompanying that world.
His competitive fires could turn a friendly fishing derby into a full-on battle of wits, skill and equipment, and yet more than once I’ve heard his laugh boom across the water, not because he was catching fish but because those around him were.
He also was the consummate reporter, not afraid to tackle difficult topics, especially if it meant stepping on the toes of those state and federal entities which he regularly watched for devious activities, including the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
He was equally fierce about protecting the state’s natural resources, frequently lashing out at state agencies and legislators more intent on appeasing their voting blocs rather doing the right thing for the sportsmen and the wild animals that make this state so special.
That is one legacy he passes on to whomever comes along on any outdoors beat, which often is among the first beats to be eliminated in these times of shrinking newspaper budgets.
You can read several well-written and heartfelt encomia to Charlie Meyers at the Denver Post Web site, http://www.denverpost.com., along with a link to a video featuring Meyers and fishing greats Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser recounting their favorite fishing spots.
You’ll also find a photo or two of Charlie, which is a rarity in the world of newspaper writing. Even though Charlie Meyers likely could out-fish, out-hunt and certainly out-write most of the subjects he wrote about, his philosophy was that people sought his columns to be told a great story, and that’s what he supplied.
His stories and memory will live on.
The other death was perhaps more avoidable.
Colorado Springs resident Tony Ikehara, 46, died Dec. 26 after apparently falling through the ice while fishing at Nichols Reservoir near Colorado Springs.
Deputies from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a body on the ice and subsequently determined Ikehara had been ice fishing on the lake when he fell into the water. Ikehara managed to pull himself from the water and toward the shore but succumbed to the elements.
Deputies say Ikehara’s body was on the ice overnight before it was seen.
As the state’s ice-fishing season ramps up, there are several notable lessons to be learned from this calamity.
First, of course, is never ice fish alone.
Second is be sure of the ice thickness, and third, leave word with someone about where you are going and when to expect your return.
You can find a more comprehensive list of ice-fishing safety tips at the Colorado State Parks Web site, http://parks.state.co.us/.