Surrounded by family on the beautiful, sunny morning of July 19, 2023, Charles Joseph Mack of Slocan, BC died suddenly of a heart attack. Charlie was born on May 12, 1951 in Princeton, MN to Joe and Ethel Mack. Charlie’s family settled in Reno, NV where he graduated first from high school and then from the University of Nevada Reno. In college, Charlie had the good fortune of meeting Barbara, the love of his life. Inseparable for the next 50 years, Charlie and Barbara raised two children and countless gardens, and built homes and boats and strong relationships with people in the communities the two of them called home.
Graduating from college with a degree in Wildlife Management, Charlie and Barbara spent a few more years in Nevada first working at wildlife refuges and then as a ranch hand. He and Barbara were married at the Elko, NV courthouse in a civil ceremony while in town getting some new tires for their pickup. Together they immigrated to Alberta, Canada where they had a daughter (Juniper) and then a son (Ty).
Returning to Reno, Charlie completed a nursing degree and moved with his young family in a school bus turned moving van from Salmon, ID to Bigfork, MN to Tippecanoe, OH. On a winter cross-country trip Charlie and Barbara drove through Lander, WY, saw people nordic skiing and sledding on the golf course below the Wind River Mountains, and knew they had found a new home.
In Lander, WY Charlie supported his family by working a variety of nursing jobs (and did a little sheep shearing) while renovating a home and then building a cabin on South Pass. The stories he invented and told at the campfire for Barbara’s Sinks Canyon Camp are still remembered and retold today. In Lander Charlie finally had free rein to pursue his favorite activity – elk hunting. Elk hunting and the activities supporting it (building and shooting bows, sharpening broadheads, scouting new terrain, poring over the regulations, swapping tips with other hunters) occupied a substantial portion of Charlie’s year.
In spite of his elk obsession, Charlie still found plenty of time for adventuring with his family in the Wind River Mountains and beyond. He accompanied his fishing-crazed son on countless outings to drop grasshoppers, lures, and flies into nearby lakes and rivers, including every single inch of fishable water in the Popo Agie river. His cries of “Go Juni Babe!” echoed across every nordic ski race course in Wyoming as he encouraged his daughter’s nordic skiing career. Rarely idle, Charlie and Barbara worked side by side in gardens, filled pickups with firewood, and mixed load after load of cement and stucco in wheelbarrows.
In 2003 Charlie (mostly) retired from nursing and he and Barbara set off on a grand adventure in the rain forests of Haida Gwaii, BC where they lived for 8 years. He worked as an RN in Skidegate .They built boats and used them to explore the coastline. On one trip they rowed to the west coast with Billy Yovanovich and caught spring salmon.
Extremely active and devoted grandparents, Charlie and Barbara moved to Slocan, BC in order to be closer to their grandkids while still remaining in their adopted country of Canada. In Slocan, Charlie and Barbara’s garden inspired many admiring gazes from passersby and supplied at least three households with as many frozen berries as they could possibly consume. Charlie spent the last 12 years of his life lovingly nurturing his tomato plants, hiking and swimming with Barbara, and inventing games to entertain his grandchildren. Charlie continued to pursue elk, topping his freezer off with deer, turkeys, and grouse on years when the legal Kootenay bulls proved elusive.
In addition to being a natural storyteller, Charlie was an amazing listener who always took the time to draw out the stories from people he met. Charlie could get in a spirited conversation with just about anyone. An avid outdoorsman and naturalist , Charlie delighted in everything about the natural world. He loved building things and was original and pragmatic in his design and technique. He loved his wife and his family deeply and was unfailingly caring and thoughtful toward them.
Charlie is survived by his wife of 49 years Barbara Mack, his children Ty (Rose) and Juniper (Bill), and his grandchildren Amara, Tarn, Griffin, and Nash; sisters Helen, Frances, and Michelle. He is sorely missed.
Condolences can be sent to PO Box 24, Slocan, BC V0G 2C0.