Charles Kelton Baxter (1948-2009) was raised in the small rural community of Kerens, Texas. An adventurous boyhood spent hunting, fishing, and exploring the Trinity River bottoms in East Texas ignited his life-long passion for conservation. His contributions to the establishment of several National Wildlife Refuges and his innovation in building the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture Partnership were some of his many career highlights. His greatest legacy was his vision for leading these efforts through science-based ecosystem-level conservation. Motivated by, ‘A God given burden to conserve and sustain fish and wildlife.’ Charles demonstrated tireless leadership that inspired a nation-wide collaborative landscape approach to conservation. In December 2008, shortly before his passing, Charles described both his legacy and his hopes for the future of American Conservation; ‘21st century resource challenges facing the wildlife community at large and the service in specific is not of making transformational change within the conservation discipline and society as a whole. It is one of transitioning from the 20th century resource management business model to a 21st century conservation science business model. The Service is uniquely positioned, and perhaps even obliged, to lead by example’.