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Charlie's With the Angels 

Vermont lost one of its most accomplished and compelling characters when Charlie Houston, 96, died on Sunday at his Ledge Road home in Burlington. A pioneer in Himalayan mountaineering, high-altitude medicine and international relations — he directed the Peace Corps in India — he was fully engaged in life until he left it. As recently as 2007, he was talking up universal health care on a Church Street soapbox.

I profiled him in a story for Seven Days about elder activists, and asked him to share a memorable fitness moment for our Health and Fitness issue in 2003.

I remember the first time he called, to invite me to lunch at his place. I arrived to find a charming old man, who was virtually blind, padding about a house filled with evidence of his adventures. With a little prompting, Houston would recount the stories himself: his near-death experience on K-2; the lab in which he experimented with human fitness at high altitudes; his efforts to launch a medical Peace Corps; his friendship with Phish keyboard player Page McConnell.

Houston never lost interest in others. At one point, he developed such a fan club of middle-aged women that it was dubbed “Charlie Angels.” Charlie’s with the real angels now.

Photo by Matthew Thorsen.

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Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Bio:
Paula Routly came to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. After graduation, she stayed and worked as a dance critic, arts writer, news reporter and editor before she started Seven Days newspaper with Pamela Polston in 1995. Routly covered arts news, then food, and, starting in 2008, focused her editorial energies... more

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