The Charles Garrett I Knew…

Garrett1Charles Garrett passed away April 3rd, and he will be missed my many. Those of us who had the opportunity to know him and be party to his kindness will miss him even more.  Charles was the quintessential treasure hunter and most of all, a real gentleman.  He was also my boss 27 years ago.


Back in the early 80’s I came up with the idea that the metal detecting pastime needed to unite and speak with one voice.  An organization that would promote, protect and preserve the pastime. That of course wound up being the Federation of Metal Detector & Archaeological Clubs, Inc.. The first industry person to take notice was the late Ken White Sr., founder and president of White’s Electronics. He called and asked how White’s could help. Besides spreading the word about our efforts he sent me to Texas so that I could promote the FMDAC at the Texas Council’s annual convention.  It was there that I first met Charles Garrett.

Alan Holcombe, yours truly and Charles Garrett, mid 80's

Alan Holcombe, yours truly and Charles Garrett, mid 80’s

Charles was a soft-spoken man, easy-going and had a way of making everyone he met feel comfortable.  My presentation to the council went well, and not only did we add a few new clubs to our organization, we also added a new supporter in Garrett Electronics.  Soon thereafter Charles became a regular visitor and speaker at our FMDAC conventions in Atlantic City, where his seminars were always the highlight of the weekend.

Charles giving seminar...

Charles giving seminar…

Charles and I would run into each other at various hunts and events and while I was at a rally in the UK, Jim Brackenridge, Garrett CEO at the time, asked if I would be interested in coming to work for Garrett.  When I returned home Fay and I worked through the pros and cons and after a few trips to Garland I accepted, becoming the director of marketing for the hobby division.


Charles and Roy Volker, early Treasure Expo (photo compliments of Paul Tainter)

Charles and Roy Volker, early Treasure Expo (photo compliments of Paul Tainter)



Going to work at the factory on National Drive (original location) was always an adventure. Along with the marketing challenges there was always something that would make the day a little more interesting…..

I was often called out to the sales area to assist customers who were looking for a new detector, and sometimes just my presence did the trick, with the customer walking out the door saying “thank you so much Mr. Garrett”….


The Garrett mobile

The infamous Garrett-mobile

Another part of my job was to represent the company at club hunts and events, but I soon found out that it had it’s drawbacks.  I’d no sooner get out of the “Garrett-mobile” and there were people rushing up to have their photos taken with me, thinking I was Charles, and there was nothing more depressing or deflating than seeing their disappointment when I told them who I was. Jeezus you would have thought I had the plague. At one event someone actually accused me of impersonating Charles….


Charles, yours truly and Alan Holcombe, late 80's

Charles, yours truly and Alan Holcombe, late 80’s


During my time at Garrett I learned a lot about the business end of things, and I learned a great deal about Charles, his demeanor, his love for the pastime and especially his love for the hobbyist.  No matter the situation he always came down on the side of the customer, and I appreciated that no end.  Add in a touch of Mary Penson and Garrett’s customer service was the best.

Customer service departments are usually separate from marketing at most companies, but in my opinion, there’s no better way to market and promote your product than by taking care of your customer at every turn.



Charles speaking at FMDAC convention, Alan Holcmbe, yours truly (early 80’s), Charles… Charles, Fay, John Punola and I (dinner in AC) , and Charles chatting with Lita Colligan and Rosemary Anderson, FMDAC party.




One day Charles and I were chatting in his office about something or other and he said “Dick I am thinking about doing away with the security business. I miss the old days and want to go back concentrating on treasure hunting”. Not knowing much about the security end of things I wasn’t able to offer much to the conversation.  Anyway he never did follow through and along came 9/11. Today you are hard put to enter an airport or school without going through a Garrett detector or being scanned with the Garrett wand.

While I don’t know for sure, I am betting security has become the biggest part of Garrett’s business today.



I’ll be honest… there were many days when I questioned my decision to work for Garrett Electronics. The in’s and out’s, the politics, the personality conflicts that exist within the company, often beat me down.  I had left a very good job in New Jersey that was fun day in and day out, and now I sometimes dreaded coming to work. Whenever I was having “one of those days” I would knock on Charles’ door, chat with him a while, and leave feeling a whole lot better. He was the reason I came to Texas and the reason I stayed….



A funny aside…. In the spring of 1990 I decided to hold the yearly Garrett dealer/distributor meeting in Kansas City. It was smack dab in the middle of the country, and I thought it would be convenient for everyone concerned.  I chose the Adams Mark hotel on the recommendation of a friend, and it too was convenient to the airport, and across the street from Kaufman stadium, should anyone want to take in a baseball game. Because I was the facilitator or point man, the Adams Mark comped me an overly plush room, and did the same for Charles and Eleanor.  Flowers, wine, late day bed pull down and of course the proverbial piece of chocolate on your pillow.

The marketing meeting was a big success, and everyone, distributors and dealers, enjoyed Kansas City. During the time we were there most everyone from the company wound up eating breakfast at the hotel’s “Pantry” restaurant, and this is where the fun comes in….

About two or three weeks later Charles called me into his office and pulled out his credit card statement. He pointed to three charges from that weekend totaling around $30, with the notation, “Pantry” and said “Dick, if I had known those chocolates on my pillow were that expensive I would have never eaten them.” As much as I tried I couldn’t stop laughing.

Charles was a somewhat thrifty man….


Today there’s a new generation of detectorists, and I suspect the name Garrett means only an AT Pro or an Ace.  It’s just a name, a brand, a company, and that’s sad because I don’t think there will be another Charles Garrett coming along anytime soon.

I could go on with stories about Charles and my time at Garrett, but I will save them for a later time…..suffice to say he was a class act, and a true legend.

RIP Charles…




Nigel Ingram, an old friend and owner of Regton, Ltd. in the UK, was in town for Mr. Garrett’s memorial services, and Saturday evening Fay and I met him for a couple of libations.  We had fun catching up on things, but get this….HE PICKED UP THE TAB.  I mention this because he’s known for keeping his money in his socks, and he stiffed me for twenty bucks years ago. Never thought I would see it again.  Hallelujah!

IMG_5815 edit tv with text

Photo by Fay Stout…

If you are ever in the UK and need anything treasure related be sure to stop in at Regton, Ltd..


I am very disappointed that Charles Garrett’s passing was not mentioned at all by the FMDAC, Task Force or WWATS, and yes I understand there’s a new cadre out there, and that we all just pass briefly through this world, but not taking the time to honor this man is not being the professional organization you claim to be.  JMO.



Filed under Metal Detecting

15 responses to “The Charles Garrett I Knew…

  1. Cari Brewer

    I enjoyed this post!

  2. wintersen

    Lovely memorial, Dick.
    You look like three peas in a pod.

  3. Great post…really shows your age too. LOL
    And also verifies that Alan Holcombe never had any hair!

  4. Ben

    That was a really nice post. The first treasure hunting book I read when I got into metal detecting was by Mr Garrett. It had a great deal of wisdom and has served me well in my hunts. I’m sure he was even more impressive in person. I’m sure the metal detecting community will miss him. R.I.P. Mr Garrett.

  5. Jamie

    Dick you are a class act. Thank you for the great photos and sharing the stories.

    What would you say to a guy who is considering getting into the detector re-seller business today? I am putting my feelers out to manufacturers, and even though I am afraid to ask, what is your opinion on the current state of affairs?

  6. Dick, this is a great write up. I totally agree with several things you mentioned here. Customer service is what keeps people coming back. I also totally agree with your words about work.. Somedays all you can do is sit down vent a little and discuss things with other parties involved. In my case we call these airing out meetings. Sometimes it helps, others not so much. It sounds like Mr. Garrett was a great asset to the hobby.

    • Steve I was very good at venting……think I was meant to be self employed, but it’s too late now. Charles put a face to the hobby like nobody else could do.

  7. Joe(TX)

    I only met Charles Garrett once but because of his down to earth character I felt like we knew each other for years. I have most of his books including the 1st edition of Successful Coin Hunting from around 1974. I have called the Garrett Factory from time to time over the last 40 or so years and have never been given the run around. Charles definitely ran a top notch company with a big emphasis on customer service. I have Never been disappointed!! Charles will definitely be missed!

    • No argument from me Joe. He was indeed a kind individual and Garrett is a top notch company. I was not a happy camper after being left go or fired, but we made amends later on. I moved my family from New Jersey, bought a home, based on a lot of promises, and unfortunately wound up in the middle of an intercompany battle that had nothing to do with me.

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