Jennifer Reynolds began working at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands in 1967, and she remembers Huell Howser visiting and working with museum staff at least three times in recent decades.
Howser, 67, died of natural causes early Monday in Palm Springs, according to the Riverside County coroner. The popular television personality spent years producing and hosting "California's Gold," a show that revealed his enthusiasm for his adopted state's hidden treasures.
The first time Howser visited with museum staff, Reynolds got to work with him on a field trip to the desert outside the tiny town of Amboy, between Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley in San Bernardino County.
"The then-curator of earth sciences took him on a tour to Amboy Crater in the late 1980s or early '90s for California Gold," Reynolds said. "The Amboy Crater is a volcano in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and he wanted to climb to the top of it on the hottest day of the year.
"That was Huell," Reynolds said. "We suggested February or March, and he said 'Nope, it's gotta be July.' It was hot that day. It was in the hundreds and teens, 118, something like that.
"Then we went to Roy's Cafe in Amboy and we drank about 10 gallons of lemonade," Reynolds said. "There were people in the cafe and they were so excited to see him. He was really a celebrity back then. He was very good with the public. He made everybody feel like they were the most interesting person he ever talked to."
A few years later, he did an episode of "Visiting with Huell Howser" about the San Bernardino County Museum's bird egg collection, in the 1990s, Reynolds said.
"We have the fifth-largest collection of bird eggs in the whole world, and he was just fascinated by that," Reynolds said. "He toured the exhibits of eggs, and he did a special tour of the collections behind the scenes. The museum director, Mr. McKernan, took him through the research collections that the public rarely sees."
The last time Reynolds remembers Howser visiting Redlands was when he was a special guest at the Museum Association's 50th Anniversary celebration in 2002.
"He was extremely professional on the job," Reynolds said Monday after learning of Hoswer's passing. "I was surprised the first time I worked with him.
"His attention to detail in just shooting the intro, where he says 'Hi I'm Huell Howser,' he took more than an hour on it," Reynolds said. "He was really a perfectionist. I think his talent was he combined his perfectionism with this friendly, warm personality, and the combination was just irrisistable to his fans."