Ken Phelps – Dear Sir Award Winner – 2011
Tribute by Linda Jo Martin
by Linda Jo Martin
I met Ken Phelps several years ago thanks to my best friend and partner who met him first. Ken was camped for the summer downriver on a mining claim. He’s been here every summer to live next to the Klamath. As I understand it, during the winters he moves south.
Since Ken is one of my partner’s favorite friends in this area I asked him (Bob) what I should say about Ken. Here were his suggestions.
1. Ken is a friend to all who live on the river – both humans and animals.
2. He is a true lover of nature.
3. He is soft spoken and humble.
4. He is always willing to show people how to prospect.
5. He is a master crevice hunter!
Also, he mentioned that Ken has been so dedicated to prospecting over the years that it is possible he lost much of his hearing due to working with a vac-pac. If you take time to talk with him (and I hope you will) you’ll find a man who has lived close to the earth, who has down to earth values, and who has a heart of gold.
We went to see him a couple days ago to invite him to this picnic and he was busy picking blackberries for someone. And they were the biggest, juiciest blackberries we’d ever seen.
Not long after I met Ken he took my partner and me to a nearby creek. Most people rush by it on Highway 96 and have no idea how idyllic and peaceful it is there. He offered it to us as a source of good drinking water and as a place where one can sit in the water on a hot day as if in a hot tub. Of course, it would be cold! There are several levels of natural tubs there just up from the Klamath River.
What really impressed me was that he told us he’d climbed up and down the creek removing sticks and debris from the water to make it a more beautiful place to be. And it was. . . absolutely beautiful! He also invited the many rafting groups that camped across the river to swim in the clean, clear water of the creek.
You would think a man who loves to prospect wouldn’t worry about the land being torn apart, but he honors nature and the environment and insisted that one particularly beautiful section of the claim not be prospected to preserve the natural scenery. He did this especially for the rafting groups that camped across the river on the beach.
Two summers ago Ken visited us several times bearing natural gifts – flowers and herbs to plant in our garden. We had some to trade.
Most of all, when I think of Ken Phelps I think of a return to a simpler way of living. He is happy to live in a humble way, serving other people, living on the mining claims. He is 85 this year! Older than Stella was when she lived on her claim. He is doing pretty much the same thing she did.
For all these reasons, I nominated Ken to receive a Dear Sir award this year.
Ken Phelps with Linda Martin in his garden.