TRAPHILL – Preston Roberts, a star of the History Channel series “Mountain Men” and longtime volunteer at the Turtle Island Preserve in Watauga County, died Monday at the age of 60.
“Yesterday, July 24 at 3:30 p.m., Preston James Roberts passed peacefully away in the arms of his wife Kathleen, surrounded by family and loved ones,” a July 25 statement from Turtle Island Preserve said. “Preston had a large inoperable tumor on his liver. The change was rapid and outpaced any treatment. Just three weeks ago he was teaching at the Boys Camp.”
According to his website, Roberts served in the U.S. Air Force and then taught for 25 years in the Wilkes County School system. Roberts first met Eustace Conway in 1982 at Appalachian State University while acquiring his degree. Roberts served on the American Indian Cultural Association, which included traveling the powwow circuit for 12 years, and was an extensive backpacker, according to Turtle Island’s website.
Roberts helped Conway found Turtle Island Preserve, a nonprofit preserve where people can learn to live off the land through gardening, hunting and building structures. Camps and scout retreats are offered from three days to two weeks for groups ranging from kids to college students to family groups. During the school year, Turtle Island offers educational events.
The preserve also offers workshops on blacksmithing, hog hunting, hide tanning, honey beverage crafting and much more. Roberts held an annual knife-making workshop and sold self-made knives through his website.
Roberts and Conway were featured on the TV show “Mountain Men,” a reality show that followed individuals who chose a primitive lifestyle.
Conway posted on his Facebook page that memorial services, including a celebration of life, would be announced soon.