Charles W. Stavely was born Feb.1, 1901 and passed away Feb. 12th of 1992 at the age of 91. He was born in Indian Territory, Econtuska, Oklahoma and attended school in Seminole, Oklahoma, and later graduated from A&M College in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He belonged to ROTC for four years and received the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
He married after finishing collage and ROTC. They adopted a daughter later in life, and his wife Gretchen died at age 54. With the help of 2 foster families he raised his daughter (My Mom, Rose) until she graduated from High School and married. He then spent the next 44 years and 5 months with the Forest Service in Colorado and Nebraska. In May of 1944 he transferred from Colorado to the Nebraska National Forest near Valentine, Ne. (Now Samuel R Mc Kelvie National Forest.) He was a ranger there for 16 years, then transferring to Denver Regional Office until 1963 when he retired. From 1963 to 1987 he traveled throughout the southern states in a Ford Bronco that he purchased new in 1974. (See Below) He spent most of his time along a creek bed, a rocky wall, or wherever there might find some gemstones, rocks or gold as he was an expert on all of these. He traveled in the Bronco, well equipped with a water sack full of water hanging off the grill on the front of the Bronco, and his Geiger counter, gold pans, picks, hammers, magnifying glass, binoculars and all the other necessary tools needed for being a prospector, miner, nature lover and camper. It was believed that his only real fear of being out in the wild alone was being struck by a rattlesnake. He told many stories of his encounters and fears of them. He was a loner and loved to be out on a creek bed panning for gold or whatever he could find. Charles was a jack-of-all-trades, handyman, carpenter, mathematician, avid reader of thousands of books, loved rocks, oh yes, the Bronco was always full of little samples of rocks, sand etc, that he carefully labeled as to what type it was, location found and date. He always had a notebook in his shirt pocket and took notes about everything. He kept a daily diary most of his life.
Every year for many years he and his Bronco traveled to two 20-acre land claims he had in Idaho along the Snake River where he had to do at least $100 worth of work or improvements on each 20-acres each year to keep them in his name. The Bronco made the trip each year, and he would spend 1-2 weeks out in the wilderness doing his work and enjoying the outdoors. No one really knew where these claims were and or where he was during those couple weeks. That was when he was in Paradise. His Bronco served him well, and they worked those claims,(named the Cindy and Brenda claims, after his two granddaughters) for as many years as his health would allow him to work them. He drove his Bronco up until the last year or so of his life, when he gave it to his daughter who resides in South Dakota. My Mom, Rose, and I traveled to Deming, New Mexico where Grandpa Stavely had been living in an assisted living home and Rose drove the Bronco back to South Dakota. She had it from 1991 until she gave it to me who lives in Seattle, Washington, in 2010. I had it shipped to Seattle, Washington from South Dakota in 2011, and I proudly drive it as often as possible!
A few months ago I loaned the Bronco to some film makers who were creating a short film for an international multimedia conference. This is the result. Be sure to go HD and Full Screen!