• Preston Roberts was an American woodsman, educator, craftsman, artist, and environmentalist
• He created Turtle Island Reserve with his friend Eustace Conway
• He was a professor in Wilkes County School for 25 years and won the title of “Teacher of the Year” twice
• He was known for his “Woodsman” knives and appearing in the “Mountain Men” TV series
• His net worth was estimated to be over $2 million at the time of his death in 2017
Who is Preston Roberts?
Preston James Roberts was born on 17 July 1957 under the zodiac sign of Cancer – he spent his childhood in Brevard, North Carolina and he held American nationality. People mostly remember Preston from the “Mountain Men” TV series, while he is also credited with building Turtle Island Reserve together with his friend Eustace Conway – during his time he worked as a woodsman, educator, craftsman, artist, and an environmentalist.
Preston’s career is closely connected to his best friend Eustace Conway, who he got to know in 1982 as they were studying together – one can read about Eustace in the book “The Last American Man” written by Liz Gilbert. They loved riding horses together, and had set a world record for a buggy trip as they went through Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The two of them received a lot of attention after they created the Turtle Island Preserve with all of its programs – Preston worked for the Preserve on its Board of Directors.
Preston was one of the most loved professors in Wilkes County School – he worked for the school for 25 years, and won the title of “Teacher of the Year” two times. He taught children art and was made assistant principal from 2004 to 2006, until he became Principal in 2007. He traveled throughout the US, as he held classes and was an instructor at a couple of primitive skills-related gatherings. He was trying to establish his connection with the Native American people, which eventually led to him becoming a singer and a participant in their traditional dances. Preston loved his Appalachian mountains, and spent as much time there as he could – during the last years of his life, he was working at Turtle Island making knives, hunting and fishing, and occasionally appearing on TV.
Preston met the love of his life in 1975 when he was 28 years old – her name is Kathleen DuPont McGuire; it was love at first sight and they married soon after they met. Preston loved changing the famous quote to one that he believed was true: ‘Beside every good man is a good woman’, not ‘behind’ as the original quote says. They have three kids together, all boys and named Travis Lee Roberts, Joseph James Roberts, and James Preston – Preston and Kathleen had celebrated their 41st anniversary in 2017.
When they first married, they lived in a tiny log cabin near the East Fork River, before they switched to a research station situated in the virgin prairie in Dakota. They moved once again, this time to a better looking barn, and during those years Preston went to Atlantic Christian College and later graduated with a degree in Art education from the Appalachian State University. This all happened in the first 10 years of their marriage, before they eventually moved to live in an old church close to Stone Mountain State Park, where they had an organic farm, and a few animals including horses and chickens, and remained there until Preston died in 2017 – the couple owned 90 acres of land on Turtle Island which now belong to Kathleen.
Preston’s “Woodsman” knives
Even though this is only one of the things which Preston did amazingly well, it is the one for which people know him – he was an excellent knife-maker, as he made 4-5 inches long knives and soedl them for $250 each.
“Mountain Men” TV series
Preston began appearing in the “Mountain Men” TV series in 2012, and stayed with the show until he died in 2017, appearing in a total of 64 episodes. The show airs on the History Channel, and revolves around Eustace Conway and his Turtle Island – he brings people to the island and teaches them some basic survival skills in the wilderness. The show also shows other people including Marty Meierotto who lives in a small town in Alaska called Two Rivers, and flies the Piper PA-18A0159 Super Cub aircraft; Tom Oar who was a former rodeo cowboy; and George Michaud who is a fur trapper living in Idaho.
Preston also appeared in the “Reconvergence” documentary movie about four different perspectives of life from four people – a naturalist, a neuroscientist, a poet and an historian. Eustace had the main role alongside Preston Estep III, and S. Waite Rawls III.
Eustace Conway is four years younger than Preston, born on 15 September 1961 in the US. He has an estimated net worth of over $2 million while his salary is said to be around $200,000 – he works as a naturalist while he also starred in “Mountain Men” and “Reconvergence” together with Preston. He grew up with his two brothers Judson and Walton Conway and his sister Martha Conway – he is an educated man who got his Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and English language from Appalachian State University.
He always loved the mountains and he had the very first close contact with them when he camped in the woods on the mountain alone for an entire week – he was only 12 at the time. When he turned 17, he left home and started living in a tipi in the woods, and made all of his clothes and tools by himself. He did amazing things throughout the years including the time when he canoed 1,000 miles on the Mississippi River, or when he walked on the Appalachian Trail in America for more than 2,000 miles. He is said to have backpacked more than 5,000 miles throughout North and Central America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Just like Preston, he lived with numerous tribes in order to learn about their culture and share their knowledge and experiences.
Although it is not to be expected from a naturalist to be active on social media platforms, Eustace has nearly 60,000 followers on his Facebook account, almost 3,000 followers on his Instagram account, and over 1,000 followers on Twitter.
Turtle Island Reserve
The goal of the Turtle Island Reserve is to connect people to nature and make them appreciate and respect life more. Their programs are based on the time of Conway’s grandparents who lived in 1924 when people planted and harvested food in their gardens, used animals to get milk, make cheese, and crafted all the necessary tools by themselves – they hunted animals for food, and made their own medicine from plants. People get to experience the real naturalist life as they are accommodated in simple shelters such as log houses and small tents. They want to provide a complete natural life and there is therefore no toilet but one has to use the outdoors just like animals do. Coming to the Preserve can teach people many things regarding survival in nature: one of their groups had to go into the woods with an axe, find a tree to cut, cut it, and make a ladder out of it – the Preserve is focused on providing people with a life-changing experience.
Preston Roberts death
Preston died on a sad Monday, 24 July 2017 at 3:30 pm, just a week after his 60th birthday, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center located in Winston Salem, and as the papers say, his death was caused by a liver tumor which grew and caused several complications in his body. He is buried in Boone in North Carolina at Morning Watch Hill Cemetery. After his death, his friend Conway mcreated a fund raising page to gather enough money to pay for Preston’s medical bills, public memorial services, and to get the roof of his family house fixed – they managed to gather over $110,000, while the initial goal was $25,000.
Turtle Island Preserve wrote their own goodbye to Preston on their website.
Colleagues describing Preston
It seems as everybody loved Preston, as he was always spreading positive energy and bringing smiles to people’s faces. People who knew him from the school said how he was a great educator and a gentleman, but most of all he was a big friend to everyone. His colleagues from the school say how he brought the best out of his students, and helped them a lot with expressing themselves. Everybody respected him and if he was the one to speak, they would all pay attention to what he was saying, as he was full of knowledge and very good at sharing it.
Appearance and net worth
Preston had short grey hair, white beard, and black eyes. At the time of his death, according to authoritative sources, his net worth was estimated to be over $2 million, but he never showed that he was a wealthy man, as he kept living his simple life.
Source: IMDb, Wikipedia