The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

Charles Morgan Carlson


September 13, 2017

Charles Morgan Carlson, 81, passed away in Billings on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, from heart disease.

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Fort Peck, Mont.

He was born at his parent’s house on May 4, 1936, in Mountain Iron, Minn., to Dorothy (Morgan) Carlson (Johnson) and Waldemar Carlson. He grew up in Mountain Iron and graduated from Mountain Iron High in 1954. He was elected to the National Honor Society and was an outstanding football player. He also spent a lot of time trapping, fishing and deer hunting.

He worked as a bricklayer for a short period after graduating and then enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1955 and served as a radio relay operator in Germany. After he was honorably discharged in 1958, he returned home and was enrolled at Mesabi Junior College in Virginia, Minn., where he met Jean Liapis. He then enrolled in the University of Minnesota in 1960 and obtained his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1962. He worked as a baker and also as a railroad worker for Jean’s father while in school. He married Jean in Virginia, Minn., on Sept. 2, 1961.

He obtained his first professional job with the Bureau of Reclamation in Billings in 1963. Son John joined the family in 1965. Later that year, Chuck and Jean moved to Fort Peck, where he worked as an electrical engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation (later Western Area Power Administration).

They initially resided in one of the original Fort Peck houses, near what is now center field of the baseball field, and six years later they moved to the Fort Peck house he resided in until his death. Daughter Chris joined the family in 1966 and daughter Cathy arrived in 1970.

He became interested in birds while bowhunting for antelope and wondering what birds he was observing while crawling around in the sage. That led to greater curiosity about birds in general in the Fort Peck area, which in turn led to lifelong hobby. He also started photographing his bird observations. Both his photography and birding skills flourished from that point forward.

He was a Montana Bird Records Committee member since its inception in 1991 through to 2016. He was the chair from 1991-1996. He also organized and ran the Fort Peck Christmas Bird Count for over 40 years. He was the contributor and editor for American Birds for about 30 years. In addition, he performed bird survey work for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Bureau of Land Management in Glasgow. He also served on the Montana Audubon Board for a number of years and he was also instrumental in the success of the Bird Festivals that occurred in Glasgow.

In addition to his bird-related efforts, he also served as a member and chair of the local NRCS Conservation District Board, was a member and chair of the Fort Peck School Board and the Fort Peck Town Council, taught Hunters Safety, and served as a Glasgow Scottie Booster volunteer.

He retired from Western Area Power in 1992 and traveled to a variety of places such as Texas, Colorado, New Jersey and Alaska, looking for birds with a number of his birding friends. He and Jean were noted for the birds in their backyard in Fort Peck, and many people from across the world stopped by for a friendly chat and the opportunity to observe birds there.

He was preceded in death by his parents; as well as his sisters and brothers-in-law, Nancy and Jim Hendrickson and Margaret and Ed White.

Survivors include his wife, Jean; a son, John Carlson and his wife, Laura, of Billings; two daughters, Chris Schmidt and her husband, Larry, of Laramie, Wyo., and Cathy Metz and her husband, Dave, of Bismarck, N.D .; six grandchildren, Johnathan Metz, Hailey Schmidt, Cade Schmidt, Benton Carlson, Janessa Metz and Crean Carlson; one brother, Robert Carlson and his wife, Kay, of Fargo, N.D .; Shelley Schultz and her husband, Steve, of Grand Rapids, Minn .; along with many loved nieces and nephews.


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