Dr. Charles Lester Salmon, Jr.
We celebrated the life of a good friend of mine on Saturday. The fact that Dr. Les Salmon lived 96 incredibly full years filled the day with joy but could not keep tears out of my eyes. His two sons ably described their father to a church full of people who knew and loved this amazing man. Les’s six grandchildren each spoke eloquently as they described their grandfather’s capacity to care, be present, and relate. They are by their lives a living legacy to a life well lived and a gentle man well loved.
Music was one of the things that connected Les and me. A year ago The Brothers Four made Les an honorary member of the group during a performance at the Admiral Theater in Bremerton. The picture of the five of us is a testament to the special moment. Some of my favorite times with him included making music at his home along with his son, Chuck, and daughter-in-law, Ginger. There is a picture here of the four of us sitting around the dining room table. The third picture is the portrait of a man in full that graced the program for this weekend’s celebration.
It was my honor to sing a couple of songs I’d written at the memorial. “The Journey Home” reminds us of our spiritual connection to majestic Northwest salmon. (Made more appropriate, perhaps, for someone with the surname of Salmon.) The other song, “Everyone Is Welcome,” was written for Les and relates the true story of his father who was a progressive minister at a time of segregation.
Because of his love of folk music Dr. Salmon appreciated the fact that the banjo player on this recording is Paul Prestopino, the long time accompanist for the Chad Mitchell Trio and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Paul Gabrielson, the longtime bass player for the Kingston Trio, is playing bass on this song as well.
Maybe the most important thing I learned from Dr. Salmon was about abiding love. Though his wife, Bev, was locked for years and years inside the shell of Alzheimer’s Les remained steadfast and constant and by her side throughout. For that reason I am also including a song here, “That’s the Deal,” by the gifted songwriter, Hugh Prestwood, that speaks well to the kind of love that Les Salmon lived.
Thank you, dear friend, and farewell.