August 7, 1934 – February 22,2019
Carl Gustafson, civil engineer and surveyor, passed away early on the morning of February 22, 2019 in the Extended Care Center of Tahoe Forest Hospital. He was 84 years old. During the past year he was comforted by the talented and loving caregivers at the ECC. Many friends spent quality time with Carl during that year, and especially during his last few days. Finally heart failure let him sleep in peace. He was predeceased by his beloved dogs, Sleeper, Chewy, Charlie, and Tommy.
Carl was born in Jamestown NY to Frederick and Elsa Gustafson. He spent memorable childhood summers at Lake Chautauqua fishing for panfish, bass, and muskies. It was there that he developed his devotion to preserving all living things. He wouldn’t kill a mouse or an ant and fished “catch and release” as an adult.
He joined the Marines in 1954 after his first year in college and was stationed in California and Japan. Snow camping exercises while in the Marines led to his love of the Sierra mountains. A degree in Civil Engineering brought him to Squaw Valley in 1963, where he lived for the next 56 years. There he engineered structures and surveyed land for houses, ski lifts, and roads. His topo maps were well-known for their detail and artistic merit.
Carl was a full participant in the wild days of the ‘60’s and 70’s, and had friends in every circle of North Tahoe life. He hiked, climbed, and skied mountains from the Sierras to Nepal.
Carl will be remembered for his environmental work. He cared for the largest bears, but also gave flying lessons to a tiny days-old robin named “Chirp”. Chirp returned to Carl’s porch each Spring for 10 years. Carl chronicled the flora and fauna of Squaw Valley and nearby watersheds and worked with many groups to preserve the creeks of North Tahoe. He saved a large stand of timber in Pole Creek by personally suing the Forest Service. The bears, pine martens, and deer remain there today.
Carl served on the Squaw Valley Public Service District Board for many years, contributing informed recommendations for the environment.
A mountain man and a mountain of a man has hiked his last peak and skied his last slope, yet his spirit lingers in the morning mist above Squaw Valley Meadow.
There will be a celebration of his life at a later date, most likely in May.
Donations in his name may be made to The Friends of Squaw Creek.
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