Interview With Author Lee Silva | HistoryNet

Interview With Author Lee Silva

By Johnny D. Boggs
12/2/2011 • Interviews, Outlaws, Wild West Interviews

Lee A. Silva has self-published a multivolume biography of Wyatt Earp.
Lee A. Silva has self-published a multivolume biography of Wyatt Earp.

Lee A. Silva’s life reads like a novel. Cowboy, lifeguard, cabbie, hunting guide—and all of that was while he was attending San Jose State College in the 1950s. Since then he has sold Porsches and Rolls-Royces, been a deep-sea diver, headlined singing acts in Las Vegas with friends Stan Williams and Gil Sabourin and acted in daytime TV soap operas as well as on the series Rawhide.

For the past quarter century, however, Silva has earned a reputation as a Western historian and an authority on Old West firearms, writing for a number of magazines, including Wild West, and authoring several books. His most recent undertaking is a self-published multivolume biography of Wyatt Earp. Already out are Wyatt Earp: A Biography of the Legend. Volume I: The Cowtown Years and Volume II, Part I: Tombstone Before the Earps (the latter co-written with wife Susan Leiser Silva, who died in 2008). Silva recently spoke with Wild West about Wyatt Earp and Western history from his office in Sunset Beach, Calif.

‘I realized from the get-go that the story of Wyatt’s life was so controversial that it couldn’t be written as a traditional biography. So I put all the controversy into the text and let the reader try to decide what the truth was’

How does one go from appearing in soaps and Rawhide, to singing in Vegas to writing about Wyatt Earp and Tombstone? And which career was the hardest?
In college in the mid-1950s I sang and played guitar at parties and had been asked to be the fourth member of a San Francisco group that, without me, became the Kingston Trio. And I had also studied creative writing. So I knew I at least had some basic talent. I made a lot of money in the new car business. But in 1962 I went through a guilt-ridden divorce, my father was murdered in Mexico by the American Mafia, and I had almost died from a noncontagious form of hepatitis. When 1962 ended, I knew I needed a long-odds challenge to recover my self-esteem. So I went to Hollywood to try to be a movie cowboy and get paid for shooting guns and riding horses. I ended up in some daytime soaps and as a deputy sheriff in the TV series Rawhide. In 1964 my best friend Stan, whom I had been singing with all my life, decided to join me. We started a deep-sea diving business and were living a zany bachelor life of diving during the day and singing in Southern California night clubs at night. I wrote a TV pilot about us, it got changed to four younger guys, and it became The Monkees TV series, which I never made a dime from. After a bad diving accident in which Stan almost died, we went to Las Vegas, and we headlined our own show there in 1965 and 1966. But in 1967 I was blackballed by the musicians’ union for testifying to the FBI about illegal musicians’ union kickbacks to the Mafia boys in Las Vegas. I went back to Southern California and continued to sing nonunion. And in 1972 I began writing Old West nonfiction for several magazines and have been writing ever since. So if I hadn’t been blackballed by the musicians’ union, I’m not sure if or when I would’ve starting writing professionally.

I think that acting was the hardest. Not only do you convincingly have to become someone else, but your facial expressions and body movements are even more important. Singing was the most rewarding, because you can feel the reaction of the audience and react in turn. But I like the privacy of researching and writing the most, without the pressure of being your best on camera or onstage.

What was actor William S. Hart’s role in the retelling of Wyatt Earp’s story, and what was your connection to Hart?
Hart wanted to play Wyatt Earp in a movie. He also tried to help Wyatt publish his autobiography. But the manuscript was so poorly written by Wyatt’s man Friday, John Flood, that it was derisively rejected. Hart’s career as the “John Wayne” of the silent film Westerns was also fading at the time, and he apparently just gave up on the Wyatt Earp project. But I think that Hart’s interest in Wyatt’s life was the impetus that motivated Wyatt to keep on trying to tell his “true story” right up until his death in 1929. I am a Western movie buff, and Hart had always interested me, because he strove for authenticity in his films. And I had read his autobiography and some of his other books.

When he died in 1946, Hart left his estate to the county of Los Angeles, and in 1987 the estate fell under the jurisdiction of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. My best friend, Don Chaput, was curator of history at the time, and he asked me to inventory and appraise Hart’s gun collection at the Hart Ranch.

Since you specialize in guns, what can you tell us about legend of Earp and the Buntline Special?
During production of the Colt Single Action Army Model from 1873 to 1941 the factory had always offered to make any barrel at a cost of $1 an inch more for any length longer than the standard 7 ½ inches. And in 1876 the factory made up a batch of extra-long barrels that it kept in stock clear up until 1941. After a lifetime of research I came to the conclusion that Ned Buntline did present five 10-inch-barreled (not 12-inch) “Buntline Special” Colts to ex–buffalo hunters Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Bill Tilghman, Neil Brown and Charlie Bassett, as bribes to try to get them to go East and join his latest theatrical play to replace Buffalo Bill, Texas Jack Omohundro and Wild Bill Hickok. The factory only kept shipping records and not production records; so if Buntline picked up the guns at the factory, that is why there are no current records of them. For 120 pages of more explanation see Volume I.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about Wyatt Earp?
That he was a braggart, self-promoter and publicity seeker all his life. Quite the contrary is true. Especially after the scandal created by his decision as referee of the Sharkey/Fitzsimmons heavyweight boxing match in San Francisco in 1896 to award the fight to Sharkey because of an “invisible” low blow by Fitzsimmons, Wyatt pretty much shunned publicity for the rest of his life, preferring the solitude of his mining claims of the Southern California desert.

What was old Tombstone like?
Some people envision Tombstone as a dirty, crime-ridden boomtown full of lonely miners, prostitutes, con artists, crooked gamblers, rustlers and stage robbers. And some people envision it as a boomtown that had saloons and restaurants that rivaled the best in San Francisco, a town sparsely populated by God-fearing families who went to theatrical plays at Schieffelin Hall and went to church on Sundays. Both are partially correct.

Explain how Wyatt Earp: A Biography of the Legend came about.
The letters that Wyatt and William S. Hart wrote back and forth during the late ’20s have become a treasure trove about Wyatt’s life. So when Don Chaput phoned me in January of 1988 and asked me if I wanted to annotate the Earp/Hart letters, we originally intended to co-author a book about Wyatt trying to tell his own story during the last 10 years of his life. But Don retired as curator emeritus, and he published Virgil Earp and other Tombstone books and left me with Wyatt and Tombstone. And 23 years later I’m still at it.

How has the Earp story been handled?
In most cases the serious historians just didn’t take enough time doing their primary research. And the buffs just want to sit back and let everyone else do the research. The scholars will continue picking everything apart without ever agreeing about anything. And the filmmakers just don’t give a damn about historical facts.

You wanted to do things differently?
I started the Wyatt Earp research in January of 1988. And I published Volume I in March of 2002. I realized from the get-go that the story of Wyatt’s life was so controversial that it couldn’t be written as a traditional biography. So I put all the controversy into the text and let the reader try to decide what the truth was. Plus I wanted to paint a picture of the geographical and historical background of his life, not just write Lee Silva’s biased conclusions about what did or didn’t happen. And I loaded Volume I with photos. It won a couple of awards as the best book of the year, even though I purposely broke most of the golden rules of publishing. And I have a stack of letters telling me that it is the “book that Earp aficionados have been waiting for.”

How important were the “cowtown years” in shaping Wyatt Earp and his legacy?
In the 19th century the cowtown bigwigs didn’t want lawmen who dealt with troublemakers by killing them and scaring off the other cowhands to another cowtown. They wanted lawmen who could defuse a problem before any killing happened. And that’s what made Wyatt Earp’s initial legend in the cowtowns. His legend was made not by how many gunfights he was in, but by how many gunfights he wasn’t in, because he was a master at intimidating other men, and he could usually get close enough to a troublemaker to “buffalo” him over the head with his pistol or coldcock him with his fists before any gunfire started. But that type of law enforcement didn’t make much newspaper ink in the East.

Why break Volume II, which covers the Tombstone years, into two parts?
It was simply a matter of health problems and my biological clock ticking down. I had such a tremendous response to Volume I that I wanted to get something else into print as soon as possible, just in case. The other reason is that Volume II had gotten bigger than Volume I anyway, so breaking it down into more than one volume was the only pragmatic thing to do.

What was Tombstone like before the Earps arrived?
That’s what Volume II, Part 1 is mostly about. Tucson had become the dumping ground for the crooks and con artists that the San Francisco vigilantes had run out of California. And the Texas Rangers had chased many of the rustlers, murderers and bad guys out of Texas and into New Mexico and Arizona Territories, and especially into Tucson. A backwash of disillusioned California gold seekers also got bogged down in Tucson along with the usual parade of prostitutes, gamblers, psychopaths and lonely rainbow chasers. So when the silver boom hit in Tombstone just 70 miles south of Tucson, the mining camp was at first a cesspool of human flotsam.

And how did it change after they came to town?
Virgil Earp was a deputy U.S. marshal the entire time and twice was city marshal and chief of police; Wyatt was a county sheriff for six months, a sometime policeman, a deputy U.S. marshal in 1882 and worked covertly for Wells, Fargo the entire time; Morgan was also a sometime policeman. With Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan in cahoots with the outlaws, the Earps, in essence, became the only law in and around Tombstone.

When can we expect Part 2 of the Tombstone years, and what will it include?
Part 2 will be the legend-making days of the O.K. Corral shootout, the murder hearing and Wyatt’s bloody vendetta. It’s mostly all written, but because of ongoing health problems I’ve given up on forecasting a release date.

What about the other two volumes?
Volume III is about Wyatt’s post-Tombstone years, and Volume IV is the last 10 years of his life that Don Chaput and I already drafted years ago.

What have you learned about Wyatt Earp since you started this project?
That he wasn’t Hugh O’Brian, who is recognized as the mythical vision of Wyatt Earp the good guy, and the only actor who will always be Wyatt Earp in the public eye. As for the real Wyatt Earp, when you do the homework and look at all his lifetime associations, he ends up being the good guy, not the bad guy that anti-Earp historians claim he was.

How bad were the bad guys?
In Texas hard cases like John Ringo and Curly Bill Brocius had been psychopathic killers. But they weren’t that bad in Tombstone until they shot up one of the stagecoaches and back-shot Virgil and Morgan Earp. Mostly, the bad guys were stage robbers and rustlers turned loose in a vast territory that meager law enforcement couldn’t control.

And the McLaury brothers?
I believe that the McLaurys had simply gotten caught up in the greed and ease of selling rustled beef at no-questions-asked low prices, even to the righteous citizens, restaurants and butchers of Tombstone, and even to the U.S. Army.

Other than your books, what’s the best go-to source for anyone interested in Wyatt Earp and the O.K. Corral?
The lifetime bulk of works by Glenn Boyer and Ben Traywick are the go-to sources for the best overall pictures of Wyatt Earp, despite what the anti-Boyer whiners crow about. As for one single book, Casey Teffertiller’s Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend includes not only Teffertiller’s primary research, [but] also had the lifetime research of historians Carl Chafin and Jeff Morey. Equally as important is the meticulous research in Tim Fattig’s Wyatt Earp: The Biography and Ben Traywick’s Wyatt Earp, Angel of Death. And Stuart Lake’s 1931 biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, is a must-read, even though it is often wrongly discredited as being fictionalized. Most of the other books either aren’t just about Wyatt Earp or were written by authors who just didn’t take the time to get it right.

How important was your late wife, Susan, to these books?
What can I say without hurting? Sue got me away from typewriters and cut-and-paste editing and into computers. More than that, our lives were entwined by our interests in research and writing. Without her help, optimism and encouragement, I doubt if any of the Wyatt Earp books would have been published. But I’m still on a guilt trip about the fact that she insisted on spending the last year of her life working on Volume II instead of finishing her historical novel Rivals, about the 10 years in Boston leading up to the Revolutionary War. She was a meticulous researcher and a better writer than I am, and she had spent 20 years writing this magnificently detailed story that I sincerely believe would have made her a 21st-century Margaret Mitchell.

You also found time to write a historical novel about the 1950s. Tell us about The Mexican Operation.
The Mexican Operation is semiautobiographical. I lived the story for 15 years. I fictionalized it to create a couple of characters to tie the story together better, and I also didn’t want to end up murdered like my father was. But mostly it was written as a tribute to him and what he tried to do to help the Mexican people, and it is also an exposé about how the Las Vegas Mafia made millions off of Mexican immigration in the 1950s in order to raise money to build up Las Vegas. I call it the roots of the current illegal immigration problem.

What’s next for you?
I’m on a 10-year stint writing a gun column for Wild West, and I’m also writing for The Rampant Colt (the Colt Collectors Association journal). And I’ve got many other articles to write. I’m getting some Hollywood interest in turning The Mexican Operation into a movie or TV miniseries. I promised Sue that I would publish Rivals. And I’d like to finish a novel of mine, titled Oso Flaco, that was 80 percent written before I started in on Wyatt Earp, about the first white man to settle in California. And, of course, I’d like to polish up the other Wyatt Earp volumes. But I think I need a couple more lifetimes to get it all done.

For more information on Lee A. Silva and his books visit his Web site.


5 Responses to Interview With Author Lee Silva

  1. Dennis johnson says:

    Dear Lee,
    Sorry to hear of your health issues. I was suspecting something like that when your next volumes of Wyatt Earp failed to appear on the market. Believe me when I say, I too know ofhealth issues and how they interupt life’s plans. My only suggestion is to get some help! No one will replace the likes of your wife who passed away too soon, but someone could help you. Like all accoumplishments, finishing your Earp books will be the best medicine you could take. I wish I was nearby to help you myself, but I am not. So, best wishes from me and I’ll bet thousands of other fans who hope you publish your works in a timely manner. Let me know when we can pre-order, or order your next volume, Earp: the legend making years.
    Sincerely a fan,

  2. Marcus Huff says:

    You couldn’t make up a person like Lee Silva. He was one-of-a-kind.

    He was a real heavy-weight water buffalo type…who could chew his way through a concrete wall and spit out the other side covered with lime and chalk…and still look good doing it.

    His work was expansive, his research was exhaustive, and his phone calls were the stuff of legend.

    It was a pleasure. Do yourself a favor, and read some Lee.

  3. Derek Easter says:

    Dear Lee,
    I am doing a project on Wyatt Earp and I came across your name to interview. I was wondering if you would be willing to do an interview on Wyatt Earp of if you can find somebody else for me to interview. please email at

  4. bruce telford says:

    Really enjoyed meeting Lee at swap meet in Long Beach and reading the Mexican Operation. Sorry I could not get back to him.

  5. David D. de Haas says:

    Here is the article I wrote about Lee Silva which was published in the October 2014 issue of the WWHA Journal:

    My Best Friend Lee
    (Leland Albert Silva: A Biography of the Legend; Volume VI, Part 2: Our Friendship/The Last Days)

    David D. de Haas, MD

    Famous last words –“Go to a wine tasting” (spoken moments before his death by Lee Silva to Wild West Magazine editor Greg Lalire, the last person to speak with him).
    Wednesday August 27, 2014 was a very sad day in the de Haas household; it was the day I learned that I lost my best friend; Lee Silva. I will go into the specifics of that dreadful day later, but first I would like to focus more on my cherished memories of Lee, and our long friendship.
    I first heard of Lee through my Wild West circle of friends, and by reputation, in the mid-1990’s and immediately made it a goal of mine to one day meet him. I was very interested in his area of research, Earpiana, and his upcoming biography of Wyatt Earp, and grew to admire him from afar. I thought of Old West researchers and authors, such as Lee, somewhat like many others did Hollywood movie stars; and Lee was the biggest (star) of them all in my mind; and pretty much untouchable. Little did I know at the time he would one day become my best friend, and often be sitting in the kitchen of my home, or at my annual birthday and 4th of July parties. Although I had not yet met him, I felt as though I knew him in the late 1990’s, as our paths had crossed so many times and we had many mutual friends. In the year 2000 I finally had the honor of meeting Lee and his wonderful wife Sue, face-to-face, at one of author/publisher Michael Hickey’s (Talei Publishers, Inc.) first “Warren Earp Days” events in Willcox, Arizona. My wife Mary and young (at the time) children (Lindsay, Heather, and Lance) immediately took a liking to Sue (and Lee), and our friendship began, and subsequently grew rapidly each year when we met up once again at Hickey’s annual events. At one of the very early events, Lee bought a book and called me over to give it to me, as he had once enjoyed it years ago as a young man, and felt one of the characters portrayed in the book (a physician) reminded him of me. I was very touched that he would think of me and not accept payment for the book, as I did not know him that well yet, and did not think he would even remember who I was; even though I very well knew who he was, and had admired him so. I really think that he and his wife Sue admired our family as well, as we had always treated them both with the utmost respect (as many had not, Lee would later confide in me; due to Sue’s disability) they had earned and deserved. It turned out that we lived very close to one another in Southern California, and talked about getting together on a social basis, someday, closer to home.
    On April 27 , 2003 our relationship skyrocketed to a whole new level by what may be mere happenchance or classified under the heading of “what was meant to be”; I have always felt the latter. My wife Mary and I stepped off the famous “lot 32 bus” at UCLA, into a massive crowd of well over 100,000 (including students and the general public) on campus for the highly anticipated annual “L.A. Times Festival of Books”, as we did every year. In that sea of humanity, almost the first person we came upon, amazingly, was Lee Silva, in his booth and signing copies of his book Wyatt Earp; A Biography of the Legend; Volume I: the Cowtown Years. He immediately picked us out in the large crowd and welcomed us, as he always had a way of doing, in his charming manner, as if we were long lost family. He paid close attention to us over his real customers who were interested in buying his book; which we were not as I already had several copies. Lee introduced us to his partner in the booth, Gary Ledoux; another author I had sought to meet, and the first in a long line of individuals I would meet, through Lee, through the years. I still remember former UCLA and Laker Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sprinting past the booth with a crowd of people chasing behind him, and vying for his attention, when Lee shouted out to him, and Kareem suddenly stopped to speak with him, and ignore all others. Lee always seemed to know all the prominent individuals in L.A. and Hollywood and have their immediate attention. Among them was Clint Eastwood who Lee had worked with on the TV show Rawhide, and often told the story of running into the young and struggling actor in the mid -1960’s, in a bar, when Clint was depressed and drinking too much as he was out of work (Rawhide had just ended) and couldn’t find a job. He told Lee of an offer he was contemplating to go to Italy to film a few Western movies, but he was leaning against it as a waste of time, although it was a paycheck. As it turned out, Clint did go to Italy, and filmed what are now known as his “Spaghetti Westerns”; the movies which catapulted him to fame once more in the United States, and subsequently the most famous and highly paid actor in the world at that time.
    During our conversations at UCLA, Lee asked if we had any plans for that evening, and invited Mary and I to join him and Sue at the Beverly Hills home of legendary Hollywood actor Hugh O’Brian, star of the 1950’s television show The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. There a large contingent of Hollywood actors (including Pat Boone, Marty Engels, Shirley Jones, and Sammy Davis Jr’s widow Altovise Davis) and a host of cowboy and rodeo stars were gathering to celebrate Hugh’s 78th birthday. Lee was personally invited as a guest of honor by his old friend Hugh to attend and sell/sign his Wyatt Earp book to the guests with the proceeds to be donated to Hugh’s HOBY charity. Mary and I could not believe our good fortune and rapidly accepted the kind offer, and had a night to remember; meeting some of the Hollywood elite and singing “Happy Birthday” (and the Wyatt Earp TV show theme song of course) to Hugh as he blew out the 78 candles on his birthday cake. Mary to this day tells the story of huddling in Hugh’s personal bathroom, and calling our daughter Heather to make her envious and boast about where she was calling from and what she saw there, and the fact that Heather had opted out from joining us that year…. I especially enjoyed looking through Hugh’s office and private library, including his personalized copy (from author Stuart Lake; consultant to the Wyatt Earp TV show) of the classic book Wyatt Earp; Frontier Marshal upon which the television show and most Earp related movies were based including 1993’s movie Tombstone starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. The photo from that night with Hugh still is on display in our wet bar to this day.
    From that point on, Lee and I became inseparable, and he invited me to join him on many of his adventures as Sue was often unable to attend. Another such event he invited me to, and we attended together on August 27, 2007, was the “Golden Boot Awards” in Studio City, California. This annual event “honors actors, actresses, and crew members who have made significant contributions to the genre of Western television and movies. The award is sponsored and presented by the Motion Picture and Television Fund”. There he once again made a point of introducing me to many of his good friends including Hollywood actors Dale Robertson (“Tales of Wells Fargo”, “Death Valley Days”, “Dynasty”, “Dallas”, …), Lucky “Ewing Miles” Brown (“Our Gang”, “Little Rascals” “Shane”, Movie producer …), Johnny Western (“Have Gun, Will Travel” …), Gregg Palmer, and Paramount Studios legendary producer A.C. Lyles. We also met up with our mutual good friends, and Tombstone Birdcage Theatre and Boot Hill Graveyard concession owners, Bill Hunley and Paula Jean Reed, amongst many others. Another night spent with Lee I will not soon forget.
    Lee often asked me for advice/suggestions for his books, especially when he needed a “medical expert opinion”, such as in his fabulous 2006 historical fiction novel The Mexican Operation, which begs to be made into a movie, or better yet a long TV miniseries; and someday will. Lee has had many offers and promoted the book for this, but was never quite able to negotiate a deal with Hollywood which allowed him to retain the rights to the book he so desperately wanted to preserve. He was still in contract negotiations with Hollywood to the day he died. It pains me greatly to know that he will never see the book played out on the big screen, as it most-certainly one day will. I cannot tell you how much joy it brought me (and I know Lee too) to read the copy he gave me (he refused to take any money for it in my payment for “helping” him with it) and be able to ask the author (Lee) questions about the characters, in real time, as I read along. An unusual delight I had only once in my life experienced before (when I read Lee’s first Wyatt Earp book) and most people will never have in their lifetime. The enjoyment was accentuated by the fact the “fictional” characters, are in fact, all real life people (including Lee and his father as characters) acting out real life events, but under fictitious names. Imagine reading your favorite novel and having access to the author (and real characters) in the novel as you read it. Pretty (in fact indescribably) cool! Even more exciting, after I finished the novel and spoke to Lee several times, I noticed that he seemed to want something from me, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Finally, after about ten subsequent discussions, he broke down and came right out and asked. “Did you read the entire book”? “Yes”, I replied. “I read every word, cover to cover”. “Obviously, you didn’t” he replied. I asked what he was talking about. “Obviously you didn’t, he repeated once more. WHAT I asked? He said, “go right now and get the book and re-read the acknowledgements page”. I sprinted to my bookshelf and yanked out one of my signed copies of the book, and there it was, “… to Dr. David de Haas … for … medical advice…”. I couldn’t believe that Lee had actually given me a credit in this amazing novel, and couldn’t contain my excitement, and surprise, that I must have sped through during the first read in my rush to dig in and start reading the 600 plus page tale. Even more important to me now though, especially NOW, is feeling the joy that Lee expressed when he heard firsthand what delight he had given me. That is what our friendship seemed to bring to both of us; mutual joy and respect for each other and our accomplishments…. We could talk to one another on the phone (which we did at least once a week for years), or in person, for hours on end without taking a breath, or having to think of the next topic of mutual interest to discuss.
    In July 2011 Lee won another (of his many) prestigious awards, the WWHA Six-Shooter Award for Best article on Wild West History, for his “The Mysterious Morgan Earp” article which appeared in Wild West Magazine in October, 2010, and in doing so paid me another great honor; one I was not expecting, and led to several humorous consequences; one of which my wife Mary still speaks of to this day. By this time, Lee was starting to experience some health issues, and the 2011 WWHA meeting (Roundup) was scheduled for Cody, Wyoming (elevation over 5000 feet). Lee desperately wanted to attend the meeting to accept his award in person. What happened next is a story Lee loved to tell. His cardiologist forbade him to travel to that high elevation as it would be a strain on his heart. It did turn out that one attendee/speaker (younger than Lee) actually did pass out at the event while she was lecturing….
    Lee pleaded with his cardiologist, arguing that his friend David (me) is an emergency physician, his girlfriend Carmen is an ICU nurse, and my wife Mary a retired ICU RN, and we would all be in attendance, and watch over him. His cardiologist quipped, ““they will be able to watch over you alright; they will watch as you have a heart attack and collapse to the ground; and then they can all “watch over you” as you lie on the ground … you can’t go…!!!””. Lee begrudgingly followed his cardiologist’s advice.
    As alluded to, Lee had been surreptitiously notified ahead of time that he would be receiving the award along with his good friend Greg Lalire, the editor of Wild West Magazine. Lee wanted me to accept the award for him, but didn’t want to ruin the surprise for me as he and Greg were the only two who knew he was to receive the award. He made up a ruse to fool me, asking me for a favor. At the WWHA award ceremony, Lee explained, Greg would be called up to accept an award on behalf of Wild West Magazine. When he does go up, Greg (per Lee) wanted me to join him up on stage as another representative of Wild West (in Lee’s place) Magazine. I was to head up to the stage when Greg did. He said he couldn’t give me any more details, but when the time came, I would understand and please just follow those instructions. I told him I would do as he asked, but didn’t understand, and didn’t want to make a fool out of myself. When the award luncheon came around, we were sitting at a table with good friends and then WWHA Journal Editor Roy Young and his wife Charlotte, as well as collector/historian Kevin Mulkins and his wife Bev. I was already becoming nervous as we sat down as I knew what I had promised (to Lee) to do, but still did not feel comfortable doing it. When Greg Lalire’s name was called to accept his award, it turned out, the award was not primarily for him, but in fact for Lee Silva and his Morgan Earp article. Greg was also acknowledged as the representative of Wild West Magazine which had published the article. Dreading the moment that I heard Greg called up to the stage, I slowly started to rise from my seat, hoping I might not have to go through with it, when I heard announced, “author Lee Silva is unable to join us today, but accepting this award on his behalf is Dr. David de Haas…”. I immediately was able to appreciate the deception Lee had played on me (in order not to ruin my surprise/delight in his success) and was honored to walk up to the stage to accept his well-deserved award for him.
    A few other memorable moments also arose from this episode. Our long time friend Kevin Mulkins had been sitting at the table with us, but left for a few moments to run an errand. When he returned to the table he saw me up on stage accepting the (Lee’s) award. He looked at my wife Mary and asked her what I was doing up on stage. She replied, “weren’t you here to hear it, David was just presented the “WWHA Award for Lifetime Contributions to Wild West History” (the most prestigious award WWHA presents each year and one I will never ever win …); isn’t it great?”. Mary still relates that story to this day and the “priceless look” of disbelief on Kevin’s face, which remained, until she broke down and explained to him what really had happened…. After the luncheon, when I walked down the hotel hallway carrying the (Lee’s) award, I was being congratulated left and right by WWHA members, who misunderstood and thought that I had actually won the award myself. I didn’t have the heart to explain that it wasn’t actually mine, so I accepted the congratulations. I now have a feeling that I more than likely will never have again; what it feels like to win a WWHA writing award; and again, all thanks to my best friend Lee….
    It was Lee who first introduced me to the Cartoonist/Desert Painter/Western artist Victor Clyde Forsythe; an individual whose life has now nearly consumed mine over the past 3 ½ plus years. I still remember when Lee called me in mid-2010 and told me he had come upon and purchased, Forsythe’s estate, which had been discovered by a few of the “Pickers” he used to help him procure items to sell in his antique business. He wanted to know if I wanted to purchase any of the original paintings he now possessed, before he offered them to the general public. I gave him an outright NO, as I had only peripherally heard of Forsythe (from his OK Corral Gunfight depiction), and had so much stuff in my collection already, and definitely did not want to start in a new direction and buy more. I have lived to regret that decision. Lee had a way of taking me under his wing and educating me when he saw I didn’t know what I was doing, and was making a poor decision, and this was one of them, and Lee knew it. He cultured me about the desert/cowboy painters/artists (Maynard Dixon, Jimmy Swinnerton, John Hilton, Bill Bender, Nicolai Fechin, Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, Frank Tenney Johnson, Will James, Charlie Russell, Frederic Remington, Ed Borein, Olaf Wieghorst … ) and Forsythe in particular; and I slowly began collecting all things Clyde Forsythe. That collection has now become quite extensive, and I own many of his personal drawings and letters, and have grown to admire the man and his many accomplishments. So much so that I have now spent over 3 ½ years researching his life (with the assistance of Lee, and another of his – and now my – good friends he introduced me to, well known author Don Chaput). This research culminated in an article I wrote about him for Wild West magazine which appeared in the October 2013 issue. Here is the link to the online version:
    I am currently working on a book on Forsythe’s life, and Lee had been assisting me, in every way possible, and was getting ready to come to my house to give me a few items to use in that book on Tuesday August 26, 2014, at the very moment (as I would later ascertain) of his untimely death. If, and when, the book is ever published, I intend to dedicate it to him (and Don Chaput)….
    Lee’s beloved wife had Sue died of cancer on June 11, 2008 , which was only diagnosed very late in its course, and not giving them much time together to plan her final days, and he was never quite the same after that. She was such a kind and giving/generous person with so much love for those she called her friends, and Lee initially found it very difficult to go on without her. He had promised her, before she died, that he would complete a Revolutionary War novel she had been meticulously working on for over twenty years, and was very near completion at the time of her death, with only one more chapter to go. Lee’s own medical problems, and grief over his loss of Sue, began to sap his previous boundless energy, making it difficult for him to run his antique business as well as continue his own writings. His Wyatt Earp books now became like a “ball and chain” around his neck as he began feeling great pressure from his fans who often wrote him that they had purchased the earlier volumes and were anticipating/expecting/demanding the future volumes; and complained about them taking so long. The fact that he was unable to find the time/energy for his own Earp volumes, and could not come up with a satisfying (in his own mind; for Sue) final chapter for Sue’s book, weighed very heavily on him, and he developed great feelings of guilt. He was ashamed of the fact that Sue had spent the last year of her life helping him finish his Wyatt Earp Volume II; time she could have better used finishing her own novel before her premature death. It got to the point where he did not want to talk about, or work on, his Earp books any further, and pushed them aside.
    Then unexpectedly, after a few months away from his writings, and out of nowhere, he became re-invigorated; and he began to realize how much joy his writing and Earp research had brought when he had worked on his books, and how much he actually missed hearing from his fans who wrote him asking about the books; and Wyatt Earp brought him back to life once more. He at one point told me that Wyatt was giving him hope once again and “something to live for”….
    We recommenced talking about his writings, and he even changed directions completely when I purchased (I hope his fans don’t blame/hate me for this as they had been eagerly awaiting Part 2 of Volume II) some old photos in the summer of 2011 (please see my “Collector’s Roundup” article in the February 2012 edition of the WWHA Journal) that he liked so much, he wanted to use them to close out his Wyatt Earp series; and now added a fifth volume for just that purpose. He had initially planned four volumes, ending with Volume IV, which encompassed the last ten years of Wyatt’s life. After perusing my photo’s, he now had a novel thought, and made plans to add a new Volume V, to elucidate the explosion of Wyatt’s legend after his death, and ending with the ultimate insult/tribute/acknowledgment/compliment; the theft of his Tombstone after the popular television show began to air, and Wyatt’s fame exploded even further. At that time he abruptly stopped his work on his Volume II, Part 2 (The Earp’s in Tombstone; the one everyone had been clamoring for), and added a Volume V (The Last Days) which he planned to use to close out the series, culminating with the photos I had in my collection. Although the follow up to his Volume 2, Part 1 is what all his fans were calling for, Lee feared he may not live long enough to finish it, and instead opted for jumping ahead to a new Volume 5, as it now interested him more, and he had so much great new information, and felt it would be shorter and he could get it completed much more rapidly. With the photos I had found, he now had the perfect ending he had been searching for; not only to that volume (V), but the entire five volume series he had toiled over in excess of twenty five years. Not only that, but in my discussions (about Lee’s upcoming Volume V) with Old West collectors Jim and Lynda Groom, during our summer vacation visit to their home in early August of 2014, they relayed that they had in their collection some key information that Lee had been searching for to complete this last volume, and kindly passed on copies, with their permission for Lee to use it all in his forthcoming book. Lee was actually quite excited about this find, and it was the third reason for his scheduled visit to my home on Tuesday August 26th of 2014.
    I last saw my friend Lee face-to-face on the 4th of July when he attended our party (with his girlfriend Carmen and her family) as he did annually. I last spoke with him on Sunday morning August 24th when we made the arrangements for a visit to my home at 3:30 PM on Tuesday August 26, 2014. I had returned a phone message he had left the evening before (while I was at work) stating he “desperately needed to speak with” me and to please call him Sunday morning. He had suddenly decided to give me a few items he wanted me to have, and he knew I needed for use in the Forsythe book I was writing. It was something we had discussed for years, but Lee hadn’t been ready just yet to part with them as he felt they may be needed for a project he was contemplating and a future article he may write…. He had also been planning to drop off the next few chapters he had written for his new Wyatt Earp Volume for my review, suggestions, and safe keeping, as he had been doing periodically over the last year or two. As just mentioned above, he also wanted to pick up the photos and documents that collector/historians Jim and Lynda Groom had given me to pass on to him, and that he planned to include in his book.
    Lee’s behavior those last few days was somewhat out of character for him, and after now having had the opportunity to interview many of his friends and family members, and the luxury of time, and to replay the series of events, and our last few conversations in my mind, I have been able to reconstruct his final days/hours. I feel fairly certain he knew his death would be coming soon. His expression to “desperately” have the need to speak to me was something I had not heard from him before, and I feel he wanted to personally bring me those last Forsythe items, and last chapters of his book, as he felt he may not be around much longer to get them to me. He had mentioned as much peripherally in several of our last phone calls, and even a few weeks before, had out of nowhere stated, “I don’t mean to be melodramatic Dave, but “I don’t expect to be around much longer” and “I think I am dying”…. I also think, for academic purposes, he wanted to come to my home to see what Jim and Lynda Groom had sent for him, as it filled a hole in his research, and was the missing piece in the puzzle he had been trying to solve that would complete one of the last chapters he was working on for Wyatt Earp Volume V….
    Lee had no fear whatsoever of death, and actually embraced it, and the day he would be back with his beloved Sue once more. He told me (and also Greg Lalire) on several occasions not to worry as he would never hurt himself. He would frequently joke, when I asked a question which involved his future; I don’t need to worry about that as “I will be pushing up daisies by then…”.
    I last spoke with Lee Sunday morning August 24th as detailed above, and he last spoke with his girlfriend Carmen on Monday night August 25th. He was due to come by my house for a visit Tuesday (8/26/2014) afternoon (3:30 P.M.). When he didn’t arrive, I called his house and left a message at about 4:15 P.M. and subsequently called several more times throughout the evening with no answer; I did not add any more messages. The next morning (Wednesday August 27th) I called him several times again, and this time his message machine was now full, and wouldn’t accept any more messages. I went in early to work at the hospital to talk with our head of social services and arrange referrals for a visit to his home from a social worker/elderly care, to evaluate and address/help with any needs he may have. He was very stubborn in this regard, and had refused all of my prior attempts to help him, but I was beginning to sense from our last few discussions, he was finally realizing that it was necessary, and may now finally give in. I tried calling once more later in the day when I got off work, and the same thing, his message machine was still not accepting messages and was full; Lee had obviously not listened to them. I became more and more concerned as it was very unlike Lee (the true western gentleman) not to show up (or at least call) for a visit. I called his girlfriend Carmen in hopes he was over her house (as he had been so many times in the past when I couldn’t locate him and became concerned) or she knew where he was…. He wasn’t there (at her house) and she too now became concerned as Lee had told her he was going to be with me on Tuesday, and she had assumed he was still with me when she couldn’t get a hold of him that night. She called all the local hospitals, and he was not at any of them, and then sent her daughter Lisa (who lives near Lee) to his house to check on him. When he didn’t answer the door she found the front door unlocked and went in. She called out and there was no answer and she searched the first floor and could not find him. A neighbor friend came by and asked what was going on and where Lee was. She had seen him the day before and he was doing fine. She went in to find Lee had died there upstairs in his home. He had fallen late Monday night and paramedics were called, but he felt okay and refused to go to the hospital per the neighbor. Greg Lalire (editor of Wild West Magazine) was also one of Lee’s best friends, and has written and called me. He last spoke (hung up) with Lee Tuesday at exactly 2:30 P.M. (he had also spoken with him on Monday, the evening before) and he was at his baseline and joking as usual when they finished. There was no answer, and Greg found the message machine now full (as had I), when he tried to again contact him throughout the day on Wednesday. I am certain that Lee must have passed a few minutes (~ 2:35 P.M. August 26th 2014) after speaking with Greg (most-likely from a heart attack as it was so quick) on Tuesday as he would have had to leave his home by about 2:40 P.M., which he did not do, to be at mine (with the traffic) at 3:30 P.M. as scheduled. He was obviously prepared to leave as his nephew-in-law Scott has confirmed the Forsythe schematic he was planning to bring me was on his table and near the front door. His “official” date of death is listed as August 27th, as that is when he was “pronounced”. It makes me feel so much better to have determined that his death was quick and he did not suffer….
    I would like to close with a very small sampling of the numerous emails I have received on Lee’s behalf. Quotes from the western community (authors, actors, collectors, re-enactors, historians, researchers, museum curators, doctors/emergency physicians, antique dealers …); his friends. I have attempted in this article to give a sense of Lee the human being, and have always strongly felt (see “It’s a Wonderful Life”; Clarence, George Bailey’s “Guardian Angel”) that you can tell so much about a man and what he stood for, from those near to him, who call him friend and love and care for him – “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends…”. Lee certainly had many of those, and I would like to let THEM conclude this story for me; and to let those that never had the great honor and privilege of knowing my best friend Lee as did I, hear what those who did, and were close to him felt (To my best friend Lee; “…the richest man in Earpiana…”):
    Greg Lalire (editor of Wild West Magazine; one of Lee’s most trusted friends; Leesburg, Virginia) – Hello, David–I can imagine how you feel, as I no doubt feel the same way. I met Lee only twice in person, but we talked about two times a week the last 10 years, and those phone calls were sometimes the highlight of the work week. I left a quote (through Marty) on our Facebook page. Teary-eyed ever since.
    \Lee Silva was a good friend of the magazine and a great friend of mine. He was generous with sharing his knowledge of Wyatt Earp and other matters of the Old West. He is listed on the Wild West masthead as a ‘special contributor’ and he was indeed special. He wrote his first Guns of the West column for Wild West in 2001, and he became the writer who did almost all of those as well as several feature articles. For more than a decade we have talked on the phone nearly every week, and we both thoroughly enjoyed what he called \our fireside chats.\I will miss his wonderful stories, mostly true, his sound advice and his California camaraderie. Lee A. Silva was pure gold.\ \Go to a wine tasting\ [This is what he always said at the end of our phone calls…a kind of joke because he liked wine and he thought that would be a good place to meet women even though I almost never drink wine.] “We should all just appreciate having known Lee and appreciate that he had a full, active life, even if we are all saddened by the fact he still wanted more of that life and still had much to offer the world.”
    Don Chaput – (researcher, author, mining expert, Curator Emeritus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Lee’s best friend of over forty years; Altadena, CA) – I first met Lee in 1972 and we kept in constant touch ever since. It was a rare week when we didn’t talk at least 3 or 4 times. I was pretty familiar with most of his research projects. He was very close to Jeff (Millet) and Dave D. (de Haas) also, regarding his historical interests, and they saw more of him than I did in the last few years. Extend my condolences and greetings to those on hand for the services.
    Jim (and Jodi) MacGregor (Wild West enthusiasts, Chronicles of the Old West Radio show co-host and resident expert; Corona, CA) – Currently we are in Ireland and will not make it back in time for the services. Our thoughts and prayers will be with Lee and his family on Friday.
    Peter Sherakyo (actor – Tombstone’s “Texas Jack”…, author, Old West firearm expert, western movie historical consultant, Caravan West Productions; CA) – Lee was a good friend. I always looked forward to our 5 or 6 meetings every year. When he lost his wife a few years ago it broke his heart; at least he’s with her now.
    Rob Tenny (Old West enthusiast, past owner of Tombstone bookstore; Tucson, Arizona) – Lee was the one of the old guard of Earpiana and will be missed very much.
    Robert K DeArment (author, Bat Masterson authority; Sylvania, Ohio) – Thank you, David, for passing on this sad news. I will always remember Lee Silva as a one and only, a generous, unique individual I was privileged to call a friend.

    David Lauterborn (Wild West Magazine) – (David, the) sincere friendship (you and Lee shared) is a rare and beautiful thing. Please extend our collective sympathy to Lee’s niece and extended family.
    Dennis (and Mary Lee) McCown (author, historian, researcher; Texas) – Thanks, David. Still sort of shocked he’s gone. Sorry to hear it….
    Patrick Krabeepetcharat (my 2nd cousin-in-law) – Sorry to hear about this David. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to meet Lee on July 4th.
    Paul Cool (attorney, author, lecturer; Maryland) – David, I am sorry for your loss and that of Lee’s family. Mark Dworkin, now Lee, and others I am forgetting at this moment of surprise. At times it is too much. Just as Harriet Dworkin has ensured Mark’s work has gone forward, when the the time comes, I hope the Silva family and friends are able to ensure the completion of the fulfillment of Lee’s legacy with publication or archival deposit of his works in progress
    Peter Brand (author, researcher, historian; Australia) – David, I will miss him very much. He was so unique and had so much general knowledge of the old west and firearms etc. He welcomed me to his home back in 1997 and shared so much with me over the years. I will never forget his generosity. I was reading the bio article you posted on Facebook; I had tears in my eyes. I have a real sadness with me today. I am going to miss Lee; as we all will. I am grateful that I got to spend time with him in November (2013). I will be there with you at his funeral and in spirit. Such sad news. I will miss his generosity and kindness. He was a special friend. It’s so sad to read this article tonight. He was such a unique man and he helped me get started on my research. I will never forget him or his generosity.

    Tom Gaumer (researcher, Old West Historian; Tucson, Arizona/Denver, Colorado) – I am so sorry to hear of Lee’s death and your loss of a good friend. I just visited Marge Elliott today to express my sympathy for her loss. Too many of the people our age that we know are dying. It’s a lot harder to take than when much older people our parents grieved for died or relatives we barely knew but our parents knew well. With sympathy and remembrance. David, I will not be able to be there. I think you will likely speak more eloquently than I. I can be confident in that and please let the family know I am feeling for them and wish them well. Keep Laughing, even more important today, Lee would likely want you to remember the good things, and not grieve any more than necessary.
    Martin Bartels (senior editor, Wild West and Aviation History Magazines; Leesburg, Virginia) – Hi David, we’re so saddened to hear the news of Lee’s passing. We were literally about to send this issue (of Wild West Magazine) to press, but we’re going to stop the press, so to speak, to add the sad news. Our prayers are with Lee’s family and friends.
    Elaine Patterson-Bennett (Old West history enthusiast, curator WWHA Facebook page; CA) – Oh David & Mary, I am so so sad to hear this awful news. My heart breaks for all you. Lee was a very fine man and an excellent author. I can imagine him and dad (Daniel Patterson) visiting and talking Old West History (in Heaven). Rest in Peace Lee!!! David, You and Mary are in our thoughts and prayers. I know how close you were to Lee. You guys had a special friendship. David, I am so proud of you, and I know Lee is proud of you too!! I know how very close you were to Lee, and how difficult his passing is. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs my dear friend!!!
    Marshall Trimble (Official State of Arizona Historian, author, True West Magazine columnist- “Ask the Marshall”; Phoenix, Arizona) – Thank you David. I’m sorry to hear about Lee.
    Erik Wright (author, newspaper writer/columnist, researcher, historian, WWHA Journal copy editor; Jonesboro, Arkansas) – So sorry to hear about Lee’s passing. I didn’t know him, but my good friend Peter Brand thought very highly of him and I think that speaks volumes to Silva’s character. I know Peter visited Lee last fall after his trip in Arizona and I guess that was the last time they saw each other. I have Lee’s Wyatt bio vol. II only and after reading that I was so impressed with his depth of scope in telling the story of Tombstone and the region I wrote Lee a long letter. I know many people were upset that Lee simply did not focus on the Tombstone story there, but really, to understand that you have to get the bigger picture. He did that beautifully. I know that he was always hard at work with Wild West for his obligations there despite his failing health. Anyways, take comfort knowing his work will leave a lasting legacy. He certainly was a force in the field.
    Nicholas Cataldo (writer, author, historian, newspaper columnist; San Bernardino, CA) – I am so sorry to hear about Lee’s passing. Although I didn’t know him as well as some of his friends, I always enjoyed talking with Lee about the Earp’s, the Old West and other topics as well. He was always very kind, compassionate, generous and \genuine\ during our interactions. May God Bless you always Lee!
    Bob Paul (great grandson of famous Old West Sheriff Bob Paul who was a good friend and staunch ally of Wyatt Earp during his Tombstone years; CA) – I had the pleasure to share lunch several times with Lee Silva in Tombstone. A good and genuine man, RIP Lee.
    Jane Eppinga (author, researcher, historian; Tucson, Arizona) – I am sorry to hear that. A great loss for Western history.
    Barbara Chiero (fan, my wife Mary’s best friend since childhood; Northbrook, Illinois) – he was such a great conversationalist and storyteller; I always learned something new and felt smarter after talking with him. David, may (your) cherished memories give you strength and bring you peace.
    Heather (de Haas) Marcos (my daughter,friend of Lee and Sue; Hanover, New Hampshire) – I’m so sorry to hear this dad! I’m so sorry to hear about Lee as he was not only your friend but a family friend for so many years. I know that he will be missed greatly by all that knew him. Lee left his mark and helped keep history alive by writing words that will be read for years to come by anyone interested in western history. I love you and I’m sorry for your loss.

    Mary de Haas (my wife and friend of Lee/Sue/Carmen) – He was a great storyteller who lived an amazing life in so many ways, and could hold a conversation on just about any topic.

    Lindsay (de Haas) Esquerra (my eldest daughter, friend of Lee and Sue; San Juan Capistrano, CA) – Thinking of you guys and Lee today. So sad to hear of my dad’s dear friend Lee Silva’s passing. I am glad I got to see him when we celebrated Jacob’s (my grandson) birthday on the 4th of July. He was such an interesting guy (who wrote crazy loooong books!) RIP Lee.
    Lance de Haas (my son, friend of Lee and Sue; Tucson, Arizona) – I am very sorry to hear about Lee Dad; he was a really good guy.

    Jim and Lynda Groom (Old West historians, researchers, collectors; Grass Valley, CA) – Jim and I are just devastated to hear that Lee passed away so suddenly. David, we are especially sorry for your loss of a very dear friend. We know what he meant to you! When you & Mary were here visiting a short time ago, we talked about Lee and what a great guy he is/was….and you were so excited about helping him with information for his current book. The Old West genre has lost a dear man. May you Rest in Peace, old friend. You are, once again, with your beloved wife, Sue. With deep sympathy and respect, Jim & Lynda Groom
    Richard Weddle (Author, researcher, historian, Billy the Kid expert; New Mexico) – Oh my God. Thanks for letting me know. Please call me if you feel like talking, I’m up late.
    James “Texas Jack” Wright (historian, curator “Texas by God’ discussion board; Witney, Texas) – David, I’m so very sorry to hear this. Thank you for letting me know. I’ve let Billy Naylor know. Recently we were talking about the little gun talk we were part of in Willcox at one of Michael Hickeys get-together’s. I’ve also let Bob Alexander know.
    Michael Pitel (researcher, author, State of New Mexico Bureau of Tourism; New Mexico) – Every older authority figure is a fixed reference point for the rest of us. You had the joy of having known him, something I never will know. I’m sorry for your loss and his family’s loss.
    Bob Cash (researcher, Wild West historian; Texas) – I had actually consulted Lee’s WYATT EARP VOL. I about two hours before I found out this terrible news. (His books) … contain so much primary source material that is completely unavailable in print or on the net that it is absolutely essential for the library of anybody interested in the subject. I believe we were all looking forward to the same kinds of material in his Vol. II. Now we may have to wait to find out what he had for us until we (hopefully) meet him up the trail a ways.
    Leah Alden Jaswal (Old West enthusiast, curator “Old West Rogues” discussion board; Seattle, Washington) – So very sorry to hear this news David. Thank you for letting us know. So sad. Big hugs to you and Mary. R.I.P. Lee. Love, Leah. Again David, I cannot express how sorry I am. Lee was a great, kind guy.
    P.h. Schroeder (historian; Wyoming) – Beautiful man inside and out. Heard about his passing yesterday. He was a great Earp author. Hope they make his book about the Mafia crimes into a movie. There was some talk.
    Tim Fattig (Tombstone historian, author, re-enactor OK Corral; Tombstone, Arizona) – Terrible news! Steve Elliott a few weeks ago, and now Lee. Damn. A great and unique spirit. He will be missed by all of us.
    Anne Collier (researcher, author; CA) – Oh Dave. I am so sorry to hear the news. My thoughts are with you, Mary and friends like Garner at this sad time. I have family there (Oak Hill Cemetery where Lee was laid to rest). They will watch over him.
    Steve Gatto (attorney, author, researcher; Michigan/Arizona) – Sad news. Lee will be missed.
    Kevin Mulkins (collector/historian/rare book dealer; Tucson, Arizona) – We’ve all lost a great one in this field. We’ll not soon, see another like Lee Silva. I’m glad to hear that Jim (Groom) will attend the graveside service. Lee and his family will be in my thoughts on Friday morning. It sounds like you’ll be very busy writing articles for the various magazines. I can think of no one better to write about the friendship between you and Lee. You’ll do fine. As will you do fine speaking at the graveside. Speak from your heart David and keep your emotions in check. I know that’s a pretty hard to do, but speak of the good times and mutual respect between you and Lee and smile when you speak of the funny things that you both shared. Remember, Lee will be listening, probably with tears in his eyes. I hope Lee’s final volume can be finished with your help and his friends. It would be a great tribute to him. I know you’re devastated by Lee’s sudden death. It is so final, but I know you will remember the good he had inside him. It is your/our duty to go on and remember the good that Lee did”. Oh, how I wish Lee would have been granted a little more time to finish his book. I’m sure it would have been great; he left no stone unturned when it came to research and writing. We’ll all miss him. We are very sorry to hear of Lee’s passing, our heartfelt condolences go out to you and Mary. Lee was so easy to talk to, his demeanor was one to emulate and admire. In the last couple years we’ve lost so many of the \great ones\ in the Old West/Tombstone genre. Lee stood tall among all of them, we will not see the likes of him, his knowledge and style again. Rest in peace Lee, we’ll see you down the trail.
    Garner Palenske – (author, researcher, and historian; San Diego, CA) Dave; I’m really sorry. I was pulling for Lee to enjoy his remaining years and finish his work. I feel honored I got to know him and was able to talk to him. I don’t know what to say. I talked to him a month ago and he seemed to be doing a little better. He was feeling down and I asked him some fun Earp questions. He really enjoyed talking about that and livened up. When we were done he jokingly said he should pay me for the therapy. I just took a photo of Stu Lake’s grave for him and mailed it last month. Your time with him was really special, I’m sure. Well, that’s two of the leading Earp historian’s (Lee and Boyer) who have climbed the Golden Ladder. Let’s hope the other one stays around for awhile. I have been thinking about doing something for Lee. I’m going to shoot a video of Ben (Traywick) talking about Lee. Tough day today. But Lee is not sickly anymore where he is. Might be seeing his family too.
    Richard Lapidus (author, collector, CS Fly photo authority; Henderson, Nevada) – So sorry to hear this. Lee was one of the most knowledgeable and interesting people I’ve ever known. He helped me personally many times with my writing. I always appreciated his opinions on Wyatt Earp and his brothers, and the entire Tombstone saga. One of Lee’s most brilliant accomplishments, in my opinion, is his historic (autobiographical) novel on Blythe, California. I’ll never forget that book. At one time Lee was a successful lounge singer in Las Vegas, and apparently almost became the fourth member of the Kingston Trio. Guess they would have had to change their name. I was happy to have been able to spend some time with Lee last year at the Western Writers of America convention. A band was playing one night. Lee didn’t hesitate to borrow a guitar, and wearing a 20 gallon hat, got up in front of the very large group and sang a couple of songs. Lee was a big man and a western history giant.
    Butch Badon (writer, researcher, historian, Old West enthusiast; Arkansas) – I never knew Lee Silva the man, but I know about Lee Silva the author. If the man matched the author, then he was truly a great man. So very sorry for your loss. I am truly sorry for your loss and Western History’s loss in general. I will keep Lee in my prayers tonight. David I am so sorry for your and his family’s loss. I know he was supposed to visit the other day. Did you get to see him?

    Roy Young (author, recently retired editor of the WWHA Journal; Apache, Oklahoma) – David, this is truly sad news. Because of our time difference here in the Central Time Zone, I just read now your message of last night. I’m glad that you and Mary, my wife Charlotte and I were able to engage in a memorable conversation about Lee this past month in Colorado. I had spoken with him on the telephone about 8 or 10 weeks ago and it was always such a pleasure to talk with him. I could tell from the tone of his voice then that he was very tired. Our field of western history has lost a great friend and teacher. David, when an obituary is published, would you forward me a copy so I can give Lee his due in the WWHA Saddlebag Newsletter in the next issue – October. He was a charter member of the new association in 2008 and a constant encouragement to my work as editor of publications. My thoughts are with you and Mary today, as well as with his many friends and associates. May he rest in peace. I Hope Friday (Lee’s funeral) is not too hard on you; I will be thinking of you. Wish I could be there. God bless.

    Rick and Shelby Mosolf (Old West enthusiasts, historians; Louisiana) – Shelby and I know how very close Lee was to you and your family Dave. He was a true gentleman and we enjoyed his company also throughout the years. We realize that there are really no words that can mitigate the sadness at a time like this, except to let you know that we understand and sympathize with the kind of loss of you’re going through, and further, that we are here for you if you wish to talk or reminisce.
    Mark Boardman – (researcher, writer, collector, author, minister, True West Magazine features editor; Avon, Indiana) Sad news, for so many. Lee contributed a great deal to the Old West field. He was generous with his time and his knowledge (which was considerable). Condolences and prayers for all those close to him–especially you, David and Mary.
    Rita Ackerman (genealogist, researcher, author; Phoenix, Arizona) – Thank you David. My heart goes with all of you.
    Troy Kelley (researcher, author, Old West cemetery authority; New York) – Very sad news.
    Gary Ledoux (author, researcher, historian; Palm Springs, CA) – What a sad loss on so many levels. RIP amigo! So sorry to hear that… I had not seen him the last several years but he was always a friend and encouraged my writing. RIP
    Don Taylor (official Tombstone town historian, author; Tombstone, Arizona) – A loss for us all. I learned a lot from Lee.
    Louis Libert (attorney, antique gun collector; Oakbrook, Illinois) – very sad to hear this news.
    Julie Ann Ream ((western event organizer/promoter, Western Heritage promoter, relative of old west actors/cowboys/movie stars Cactus Mack, Glenn Strange (Frankenstein/Gunsmoke), Rex Allen)) – So sorry, great guy.
    Brian Ostberg (researcher, author; Chicago, Illinois) – Sorry to hear about Lee Silva. He was one of the pillars of the community and his loss will be felt by many. He clearly made a very big and positive mark on many people. … he also had a very full life, and didn’t back away from any opportunity that life presented to him, … he brought insight and joy to many. Hard to top that.
    Dale Hector (fan/friend of Lee’s; San Juan Capistrano, CA) – Oh Dave, My heart and soul is saddened to hear this. I feel that it was a real privilege and honor to have known Lee. I am very thankful to you for introducing me to him. I will cherish the time and conversations that we had. Lee was easy to talk to and would make you feel welcome. He was a great author, storyteller and historian. He will be greatly missed. RIP Lee. With my deepest sympathy and respects to You, Mary and Carmen.

    Dirk R. de Haas, MD (emergency physician, my brother; Chicago, Illinois) – I’m sorry for your loss. He was a very loved man. I’m very sorry to hear this David. A wonderful and amazing man. You going to be ok? I’m sorry David. He was an obvious soulful man. Such people are like the sparkling grains of sand on a beach. They are there if you look for them. When you see them amongst the masses amongst them who don’t glimmer so brightly they do indeed awe you. You have been gifted to know such a man. Let him inspire you in your life. Carry on his wisdom. In that way he will never fully be gone.
    Henry Turanzas (ER Registered Nurse, acquaintance of Lee; San Bernardino, CA) – My sincerest condolences on the loss of your friend!! May he rest in peace in heaven with God!!
    Paul Marquez (Researcher; Great Great Grandson of Celsa and Sabal Gutierrez – close friends of Billy the Kid; relative of famous Old West Sheriff Pat Garrett who killed Billy; Denver, Colorado) – Our thoughts and prayers are with Lee’s family. He will be missed.
    Linda Wommack (author, Wild West Magazine; Colorado) – rest in peace Lee.
    Drew Gomber (author, researcher, actor, historian, Billy the Kid expert; Lincoln, New Mexico) – He was a very nice guy.
    Karen Holliday-Tanner (Author, researcher, Wild West Gunfighter Doc Holliday’s closest living relative; CA) – Thanks for thinking of me. No, I had not heard about Lee passing away. He was a really good guy and I am going to miss him.
    John Yee, MD (emergency physician; Huntington Beach, CA) – Sorry for your loss.
    Scott Dyke (Author, Researcher, Historian, archivist; Green Valley, Arizona) – I met Lee ten years ago in Tombstone. It is a sad time for me; a hell-of-a loss. He was a dear friend and I’m going to miss him. We shared a lot through the years….
    Robert Realmuto, MD (emergency physician; San Clemente, CA) – Sorry to hear about Lee.

    Tri Tong, MD (emergency physician; Fountain Valley, CA) – Thoughts and prayers to your friend and his family.

    Marcus Huff (editor WWHA Journal; Ten Sleep, Wyoming) – Lee … was a great friend and I will always remember him fondly.

    Jeff Millet (Lee’s publisher and long time good friend, Graphic Publishers; Santa Ana, CA) – Lee Silva was a one-of-a-kind Westerner. Born and raised in California, Lee absorbed a love for all things historic. As an adult he honed his skills and interests to Wyatt Earp and his brothers, where he truly made his mark. His books became instant collector’s items, and several Earp volumes remain to still be told, eagerly awaited by his legions of fans. In addition to becoming one of the recognized “lions” in the genre, Lee was a hell of a raconteur, storyteller, and wit; always keeping us in stitches with self-deprecating stories of his many, often offbeat, adventures during a long and eventful life. All that, and Lee was a good man, a straight-shooter, and one of my best lifetime friends. I greatly miss Lee, but he will certainly be long-remembered.
    Marlin Wertman (Old West enthusiast; Muncy, PA) – I am so sad/devastated to hear this. I am really going to miss Lee. He was such a great guy and an amazing researcher and writer.
    Ben Traywick (Author, researcher, historian, recently retired official Tombstone town historian; Tombstone, Arizona) – Lee was the last of the big time Earp authors/historians and one of the best. He was a good friend.
    David D. de Haas (me) – words spoken at Lee’s graveside memorial service September 5th, 2014 10AM (Oak Hill Cemetery; San Jose, California):

    I feel so incredibly honored that Christina and Scott have allowed me to say a few words about my best friend Lee, and represent his enormous contingent of Old West friends around the country. Lee was like a big brother to me, and a fatherly figure, to whom I looked up to, and respected and admired so much. He was a modern day renaissance man and was so knowledgeable and well versed and fluent on so many diverse topics. I always knew who I could turn to when I was in trouble, and needed sound advice or a shoulder to cry on, or just had a question I needed answered. He was SO much more resourceful than Google!
    You always made yourself readily accessible to your friends Lee; a true and loyal friend in every sense of the word. Your friends and family will be there for you too now. In our conversations over the last few years, a recurring theme you expressed was your concern that the years of exhaustive research and writing that you and Sue put in would all go to waste and be for naught. I have spoken to Scott and Christina (Lee’s niece) in this regard and I want you to rest easy my good friend, and let you know that your family and friends will do our best to see they will not (be for naught), and will come to fruition….
    In closing, I would like to borrow the words of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) to his loyal friend and supporter (which you always were to me), Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), in the movie Tombstone – “thanks for always being there” (for me) Lee; and for being my best friend.
    Happy Trails to you, until we meet again.
    RIP my dear friend; you are with your Sue once more….

    Addendum – My subtitle “Lee Albert Silva: A Biography of the Legend; Volume VI, Part 2: Our Friendship/The Last Days” was selected because Lee was just putting the finishing touches on his next Wyatt Earp volume at the time of his death. It (his latest Earp book) was tentatively titled, Wyatt Earp: A Biography of the Legend; Volume V: The Last Days. I thought it appropriate then, in true Lee fashion, to title this article about the special friendship we had and the last fifteen years of his life; Volume VI, Part 2 to suggest a culmination to his series. I think Lee would have liked this. “Part 2”, because there is a “Part 1” still to be written; possibly for a future issue of the WWHA Journal; and that is his life before we met. There already is an excellent interview by Johnny Boggs in Wild West Magazine published in 2011, as well as information on Lee’s own website that would partially serve this purpose for those interested in the remarkable life of this wonderful human being:
    To this, I would like to one day add “Part 1”, which will include a petition I have filed on his behalf in nomination for the “WWHA Award for Lifetime Contributions to Wild West History”; presented annually to an exceptional “individual who, over an extended period of time (over 25 years), has contributed significantly to the field of research and documentation of Wild West history”. I can think of no single individual who more deserves….

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