The Palmer Lake country and folk guitarist and songwriter affectionately known as the "Zen Cowboy" died Friday night.

Chuck Pyle, 70, was fishing at Palmer Lake on Friday, said Michael Maddox, executive director of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. When he wasn't home by dark, his girlfriend went out looking for him and found him lying face down in the water at the lake. He died later at Penrose Hospital, said the El Paso County Coroner's Office. The cause of death is not yet known.

A public memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at TLCA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to: The Chuck Pyle Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 726, Palmer Lake, CO, 80133.

"Palmer Lake is stunned. Chuck was Palmer Lake's favorite son," Maddox said. "He couldn't say no to anybody. When people wanted to hear him sing in the Tri-Lakes area, he'd always say yes. He loved music, he loved people, he loved the Tri-Lakes area."

Pyle played about 100 shows around the country each year and was known for his songwriting and finger picking. His career began more than four decades ago and his music was covered by many musicians, including John Denver, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Suzy Bogguss and Chris LeDoux.

Photographer John Fielder, known for his Colorado landscapes, collaborated on shows with Pyle over the last decade. Their events combined Fielder's Western photos with Pyle's Western music.

"He was an equanimous man, a go with the flow type person," Fielder said. "A one word description of Chuck is 'mellow.' Obviously he understood the sensuousness of life and he expressed that with his life and his music."

Pyle released his 13th album, "Cover Stories," last January.

Keegan Pyle, Pyle's son, touched on some of his father's traits he'll miss most.

"His kindheartedness and sense of humor and ability to entertain a wide cross-section of people," he said. "He wrote music that was food for the soul, that touched so many people."

A&E and features reporter

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