Archived Story

Cardinal Charlie: Heddon’s Homer Circle passes away at 97

Published 9:00pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When I read my July 1 South Bend Tribune, I was saddened when I read in Louie Stout’s outdoors column where 97-year-old Homer Circle had passed away the week before.

Homer used to work in the Heddon office when I worked in the adjoining shipping room.

I saw Homer nearly every morning as he came to work through our back door to go to his office job.

It was he, me, Trig Lund and Walt Taggart who started the Dowagiac Casting Club in 1948-51. After I started writing in 1989 I sent Homer some of my columns and he sent me some of his.

We corresponded for quite some time, but due to my procrastination, I hadn’t written him in a couple of years.

He once told me he could never forget my name, Gill, as it had a fishing ring to it.

I did know that he had lost his child bride, as he used to call her in some of his articles. She died in a nursing home and had Alzheimer’s.

I remember at one time Homer, Gale and daughter Judy lived at 408 Oak St.

He had me look out for his house and furnace when they took a winter vacation to Florida. (If I remember, his house was down by the Weller Bros. Grocery Store.)

Homer used to get lots of things due to his job in sales. He once gave me a newly-designed spinning reel that was made totally out of nothing, but different plastics, gears and all.

Homer once told me how he came to Dowagiac and how he got his job at Heddon’s. He came here to show them a walnut crab plug he had made.

Well, Heddon’s didn’t buy his plug invention, but bought Homer.

He said he started out designing artificial lures and later ended up as a vice president of sales.

I used to use an excuse to go down in the basement under the office to get cartons from the shipping room.

When down there, I used to watch Homer testing lures in a real long testing tank, 50 feet by four feet by three feet deep.

He had a one-foot rod and reel to cast a plug to one end of the tank and reel it in to check the actions. He had a lot to do with the Heddon Sonic lure, a million-seller.

Homer taught me a lot of tricky casts with my rod and reel, such as using it like a golf club or holding the rod behind your back to cast at targets.

Also, to cast an underhand twirling cast to get under tree branches to get to the water.

Homer’s two weekly columns were called Hook, Line and Circle and Circling the Outdoors and were in the Ocala Star Banner paper.

He also wrote for Sports Afield magazine and was angling editor for 38 years.

He wrote for Outdoor Life and Bassmaster.

He hosted three national TV shows and two national radio programs, appeared in 50 fishing films and wrote seven books. He held four world fishing records and was a member of the International Fishing Hall of Fame.

Once again, due to old Charlie’s “procrastination” by not keeping up with “Uncle” Homer these last few years, I’ve paid the penalty and lost another good old Dowagiac friend. Speaking of famous Dowagiac people, Homer was another one in my book.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. Email him at

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