Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section Sierra Club
Les Stockton
Active in the DPS: 1967-1974

Active in LTC HPS DPS
From the 1980 Chapter Awards Banquet writeup: Our favorite Red Baron" has been a familiar figure to Sierra Club hikers since the 1960s. He has led easy to difficult trips for all three climbing sections-the HPS DPS and SPS has been chairman of the HPS and DPS and served as secretary and vice-chairman of the Chapter's Executive Committee. His lectures for the Basic Mountaineering Training Course and the Leadership Training Course are a highlight of each series. His humorous presentation lightens yet emphasizes the serious content of his material." Les and his wife Abbye (Pudge) have been highlighted in recent years in LA Times Magazine Smithsonian Magazine and on KCEt with Huell Howser for their years as physical fitness enthusiasts who participated in the activities at Muscle Beach during the 1940s and 1950s.
A retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Les' hobby was collecting butterflies. This hobby led him to collecting high altitude specimums which introduced him to mountain climbing and eventually to the Sierra Club. He is best known for an adventure on the slopes of Rabbit Peak that led to his nickname "The Red Baron".

Photo: :  Dick Worsfold Collection

Les Stockton lecturing on the "Ten Essentials"
Original: 35 mm slide made by Muir Dawson for 1986 Angeles Chapter Diamond Jubilee Program

Dick Worsfold Collection
Sierra Club-Angeles Chapter Archives

Les Stockton the "Red Baron
in August 1973

Les Stockton February 1967

Dick Worsfold Collection
Sierra Club-Angeles Chapter Archives
Les Stockton Collection Les posing at the Bighorn Meeting
Yucca Valley October 23 1971

Les Stockton (1916-2004) Les Stockton passed away on April 19 2004 after a long battle with melanoma cancer. As a husband and father he served his country and community in diverse roles: thirty-five years' service in the Air Force (Colonel) pioneer in the physical fitness movement butterfly collector and mountaineer.

Les was one of those larger-than-life characters who was always full of zest energy and infectious good-humor-a man living life to the fullest. Those of us privileged to attend one of his "Ten Essentials" lectures that he gave for the club's Basic Mountaineering Training Course in the 1960s and 70s will never forget the belly-laughs nor the underlying seriousness of his talk.

Les and wife Abbye were among the earliest habitués of the physical fitness area that grew up around Santa Monica Pier in the 1930s and became known world-wide as Muscle Beach. As a result of their involvement with the emerging health movement they owned and operated several gyms in the post-WWII years.

Having developed an interest in lepidoptery Les collected butterflies with his usual enthusiasm. He amassed an extensive collection of over 800 display cases which have been donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History by Abbye and the Stockton's daughter Laura.

It was while seeking high altitude butterfly species that Les was introduced to mountaineering and the Sierra Club. In October of 1967 he led his first chapter outing for the Hundred Peaks Section. Seven months later he led the first HPS Peakbaggers' Special in which the objective was to climb as many listed HPS peaks as possible in one very long day. These became annual events for Les through the mid-1970s and have been continued off-and-on by a host of successor HPS leaders to this day.

Les also led outings for the Desert Peaks Section and served on both the DPS and HPS management committees coming to chair the HPS in 1969 and the DPS in 1973. Les was always easy to spot on the trail as his standard get-up evolved into a bright red jump-suit with his head crowned with a crimson hat-leading to his nickname as "The Red Baron." Somehow during this period Les also found time to serve on the Chapter Executive Committee from 1972 through 1975

The finest testament expressed for this exuberant man was written by his daughter Laura: "I think I can honestly say that his years in the mountains were some of his happiest. I know he thoroughly enjoyed the people he hiked with led and lectured to. His good humor and positive attitude were an inspiration to all who knew him. There was always a lot of laughter when he was around! I also know that some of my father's finest and favorite moments were when he was the Master of Ceremonies for the Hundred Peaks and Desert Peaks banquets. His entertaining anecdotes kept the evenings moving right along with never a dull moment."

In acknowledgment of his many contributions the Angeles Chapter bestowed an Outings Service Award upon Les Stockton in 1979.-Bob Cates Angeles Chapter Historian

S I E R R A   C L U B   C H R O N O L O G Y   T H R U   2 0 0 6

1967 Joined the Desert Peaks Section
1968 DPS Emblem
1968 Member at Large - Hundred Peaks Section
1968 SPS Emblem
1969 Banquet Chair - Desert Peaks Section
1969 Chairman - Hundred Peaks Section
1969 Banquet Committee - Hundred Peaks Section
1969 Chairman - Hundred Peaks Section
1970 Program Chair - Desert Peaks Section
1970 Past Chairman - Hundred Peaks Section
1971 Vice Chairman - Desert Peaks Section
1971 Hundred Peaks Section R. S. Fink Service Award
1971 Banquet Committee - Hundred Peaks Section
1972 Chairman - Activities Administration Committee
1972 Member - Chapter Executive Committee
1972 Chairman - Desert Peaks Section
1972 Hundred Peaks Section Special Award - The Red Baron
1973 Secretary - Chapter Executive Committee
1974 Vice Chairman - Chapter Executive Committee
1974 Member - Equipment Show Committee
1974 Last year active in the Desert Peaks Section
1975 Secretary - Chapter Executive Committee
1975 Member - Conservation Administration Comittee
1975 Banquet Committee - Hundred Peaks Section
1975 Member at Large - Hundred Peaks Section
1975 Member - Leadership Training Committee
1975 Member - Publications Administration Committee
1976 Member - Leadership Training Committee
1979 Angeles Chapter Outings Service Award

Desert Peaks Section Angeles Chapter Sierra Club
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