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November 26, 2013 > Farewell to a Boy Paleontologist

Farewell to a Boy Paleontologist

Submitted By Joyce R. Blueford

William Gordon Charles was one of the Boy Paleontologists of the 1940s, a group of boys who became famous for excavating Ice Age fossils - Columbian mammoths, mastodons, camel-like mammals, sloths, short faced bear, dire wolves, and pronghorn antelope - in the Irvington District of Fremont. These ÒboysÓ traveled from Hayward on weekends to excavate one of the most productive sites of the early Pleistocene Epoch. The Boy Paleontologists were well-known throughout the United States in the 1940-50s. Ranging in age from seven to 13, they unearthed one of the best preserved fossil sites in North America. These fossils created such an international sensation, that a section of geologic time was honored as the Irvingtonian North American Vertebrate Stage within the Pleistocene.

Wesley Gordon Sr., leader of the Boy Paleontologists, instilled an ethic in these boys to collect specimens and educate the public. A museum in San Lorenzo, initiated by Wes Gordon, was dismantled in the early 2000s but William Charles worked with GordonÕs brother, Phil, to make sure the collection would stay intact. Bill and Phil worked diligently to preserve the collection that now resides at the ChildrenÕs Natural History Museum managed by the Math Science Nucleus. Bill worked on the photos and assembled a compendium of articles to record their history. The Wes Gordon Fossil Hall displays the artifacts with records to verify where each was found. Bill was often present to tell visitors of the discoveries made by the Boy Paleontologists. William Charles became the museumÕs philosopher.

In the early years, the museum only had a few visitors, but now it is a busy place, hosting classes of children who come to learn about the geologic history of this area. The most loved room is the ÒBoy PaleontologistÓ room where the BoysÕ artifacts are on view along with information about how they dug for fossils. Bill was especially proud of the documentation he compiled, including youthful escapades.

Bill will be remembered in a special tribute, hosted by CA Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, at the ChildrenÕs Natural History Museum on Saturday, December 7. Bill spent many a night with Assemblyman Wieckowski discussing the importance of this collection.

A tour, silent auction, and presentations are scheduled for the event. Appetizers and a buffet will be provided.


Bill Charles Tribute
Saturday, Dec. 7
5:30 p.m. Ð 8:30 p.m.
ChildrenÕs Natural History Museum
4074 Eggers Dr, Fremont
http://cnhm.msnucleus.org/

$25 donation per person
To purchase your donation ticket, visit: http://www.msnucleus.org/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=class&Product_Code=02&Category_Code=donate

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