Throwback Thursday – Charles Garrett…

Still searching for the itch to go detecting again as well as a place to do it…35 degrees and light rain ain’t helping.  Likewise Tuesday was “knee replacement” day for Fay so the “honey do” lists have been replaced with a lot of “get your butt in here now” stuff.  Fun days ahead…

Anyway with the Garrett Memorial Hunt coming up in 4 weeks time here’s a Throwback from April 2015…shortly after Charles passed away.

Charles Garrett, yours truly and Alan Holcombe, circa 1983

The Charles Garrett I Knew

Charles 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 30 years ago.


Back in the early 80’s I had come 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.

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 the offer, 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 them 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 its 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….



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 Holcombe, 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 existed 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…


Throwback Photo

Hawking Garrett detectors with Bob Podhrasky, 1989 (Photo courtesy of Paul Tainter)


Once you hit a certain age you become permanently unimpressed by a lot of shit….




Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “Throwback Thursday – Charles Garrett…

  1. I have all of Charles Garrett’s books (or had…my books from the 1970’s and 80’s are a bit timeworn) and I always thought you were his brother somehow,, but found out later you were, oddly enough, his stunt-double. I met Charles just once in the mid-1980’s and was impressed by his gentle humor and his easy-going demeanor by those of us who literally considered him the rock star of Detectordom…which I always will. My most revered metal detector was the Garrett ADS Deepseeker, which I fondly remember as my first “I-hit-the-big-time!” machine. I saw one recently over on Florida’s west coast for $40…I was sorely thinking of driving the 4.5 hour round-trip, but other things demanded my attention that week. Good post Dick…Charles will allways be remembered by those of us in metal-detecting’s golden age

  2. Well I do know how to hurt a guy, but not you, Dick. It was a very good post and you are still doing good work. As a side note, I actually went detecting today after my “Nuclear Incident” at the VA Nuclear Medicine department.. It was great fun for a little while, all that bending and digging and a little cursing here and there. I’m certainly feeling it now though. Patti wanted to know if I was practicing pretzel impersonations when I got home. Radioactivity and metal detecting don’t mix! I have postponed my amazing Cocoa Beach hunt originally planned for tomorrow indefinitely. I wish you good luck in hitting the dirt again yourself, Dick!

    • You’re one tough tekkie Jim and you’re my hero. Not sure I could go through all you have and still find time to help other detectorists and get out in the field too. Say hi to Patti, have a great day and have one for me…

  3. Tony from Bayonne

    Dick, no wonder why folks thought you were Charlie G….you and Alan look like triplets to me!
    You might have left a good job in the city but you had one hell of a time in Texas! Thanks for posting memories of a terrific person who certainly helped the hobby as much as you have.

  4. john taylor

    i met charles at his hunt in north hampton the fairgrounds. i was impressed with his demeanor.
    he was soft spoken,but you just knew he was a man of stature.he carried himself very well.
    i always thought his detectors “sucked” no depth,sick looking’ “puke green color”,and that god awful
    coin “boing-boing” sound!..jeeeez. my bro sold ’em out of his house back in the 70’s .he let me take one into the field with the coil taped up! i think it was the “ground hog”..i just could not get used to the tonal qualities of that detector.hated the “barf green color”,and the depth was horse sh*t too.i told me bro about that ‘big-boing” sound
    and he said that’s why people bought ’em at that time! i looked at him incredulously,as i thought he was “incapacitated with alcohol at the time,which he was not. anyway i still think charlie detectors kinda “suck”


    • John, I thought I was a negative guy but I think you have me beat…have a great day.

      • john taylor

        i ain’t negative dick! just a statement of fact. how i see it! i pride myself on
        always ”speakin da trut!” even if it leaves a “bad taste in da mout”..i’m just sayin’


  5. Bob Sickler

    Charles Garrett became an unknowing mentor to me. For years I read his books, they really helped me technically better understand and use my detector. Later on I would finally meet the man in person and your description of his attributes is right on the money Dick. Like you, he too would offer me a position at Garrett. I hated to turn him down, but the love of home and family I would have left behind won out. Later on I would write a book myself. I had no dedication in the book, but silently it was to Charles, he was my inspiration to write and help others like he helped me… Paying it forward if you will. Learning of his death in 2015 was painful for me. The world lost an incredibly kind person, entrepreneur, and innovator… I lost a dear friend.

    Early when it came time to buy a commercially made detector, I started with Garrett. My Groundhog, to this day, still holds the record of helping me find my best coin. Forty-two years later I’m using the Garrett AT-MAX which recently helped me co-win Garrett’s December 2018 “Find of the Month”. I’ve owned many brands of detectors over the years, but there is something special about believing in, being loyal to a brand, and admiring the man that made it all possible for me. Rest in peace my friend… Save a few coins for me up there!

  6. Tony from Bayonne

    Now that is one outstanding cache! Congratulations!

  7. john taylor

    hi dick!
    if you get involved with a “family” company,and your name isn’t garrett,you are going to have to deal with politics.
    now,my god!..dick! surely,you must have known this! what were you thinking? must have been a glutton for
    punishment to tolerate such “shenanigans!”,OR maybe YOU wanted a “taste” of notoriety? .ehe! he! he! ehe!
    c’mon dick! ..come clean!


    • John my purpose in accepting the position at Garrett was to work in a field I loved. Pretty sure most tekkies would take the opportunity as well.

      What’s your point? If you’re looking to insult or belittle please move on….

      • john taylor

        nuthin’ personal dick! you stated yourself,you did not like your job!
        you also said that you made a mistake!..hell dick! we all make mistakes!
        doesn’t mean we are bad people! tried something,and it ‘smelled”
        not a big deal! we all have to take the “bitter with the sweet” in everything in life.
        way it is! ..i’m just sayin’


      • John, not sure what your aim or point is with all this but comments on this post are now closed.

  8. Sonny

    Anyone who thinks Garrett’s detectors “suck, have no depth, etc, are obviously newcomers and don’t have any idea of how to use em”. Personally, I started with Garrett in 1977 with one called a “Ghost Town Hunter”. Now after all these years, have 3 of Garrett’s, an ADS3 from the mid 80’s, (still works like new) a GTAx1250 from 2000 and an Ace400 from 2018. I have all the coils available at the time for the ADS 3. It’s my go to detector for relics. Yes it is heavy but it’s weight doesn’t bother me. Then there’s the GTAx1250 and the Ace400. Both of which are great coin/jewelry machines.

    Right after getting the ADS3, the tuner became “scratchy”. I called the factory and was told they would be open on the coming Saturday. My wife and I left home about 1am that Saturday and drove to Garland. Got into town at 5:30 and found a restuarant open for breakfast. The factory opened at 8. Went in and Mr. Garrett waited on me personally. While there he gave us a tour of the museum. Very interesting!! About an hour later my detector was repaired and we were about to leave for home. He asked if I had an armrest for and I said not yet. He said you do now! He then asked if I had headphones for it and I said I have some Kmart brand headphones. He then gave me an armrest and a new set of headphones that day. A true gentleman in every sense of the word. He was definitely a “one of a kind” and he’ll be missed by those that knew, loved and appreciated him!!

    • I agree Sonny. John Taylor seems to have a bug up his butt for some reason.

      The Garrett machines from the 80’s were real workhorses….

  9. john taylor

    charlie garrett was a true ambassador for the hobby! he was a good guy!
    i just think his detectors were horse sh*t it’s ok if others liked them! i did not!


  10. John, not sure what your aim or point is with all this but comments on this post are now closed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.