The Story of Dad
Chuck was born on October 20, 1938, in Butler, Pennsylvania. His Dad worked for Armco and his Mom was a homemaker. As a kid he loved to play baseball, and he lived his whole life with a small scar above his eye from a broken bat hitting it.
Dad took over a Butler Eagle newspaper route as a kid, and he grew the route from 60 to 125 customers. He was a Demolay, the fraternal precursor to becoming a Mason. He loved going to Saturday matinees movies, and also liked to read. He was good at his homework, and was especially good at math, taking classes in algebra and calculus. His first car was a 1952 Ford. His brother Jimmy fondly remembers that Dad was his protector.
Chuck went to Butler High School and played B-flat clarinet in the school band. He met a red-headed clarinet player named Wilma and they began to date. One day a HS Spanish teacher quietly pulled Wilma aside and told her Charles was failing the class, and naturally Wilma said… I'm not helping him! Somehow he managed to pass with a D, while future doctoral candidate Winnie got an A.
Chuck attended Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia for a year and lived in a dorm on campus. But then he married Winnie in 1958 and went to work for Fuellgraf Electric Company, what became a very successful electrical contracting firm originally started by his father-in-law. His first job was a ditch digger, but he completed the electrical apprenticeship program and became a successful estimator. Dad and his brother Jimmy also had their own business for a short time, Clark Trailer Supply.
Dad and a partner started their own electrical contracting firm in the late 80s, Right Electric, which they ran for 5 years. Youngest son Ashley did some electrical work for them but kept getting shocked so decided to become an actor! Middle son Kelvin did accounting for them for several years.
One of Dad's hobbies was photography, and he even set up a darkroom in the basement to develop pictures. He was a member of the Butler Masonic Lodge for most of his adult life. Kelvin followed in his footsteps.
Chuck was a deer hunter and knew his way around guns. He taught his kids and many of his grandkids how to handle and fire a gun. Ashley became a good trap shooter, so Dad drove him every Wednesday and Sunday to shooting competitions, and he once hit 98 out of 100 shots.
Dad and Mom loved camping, and they owned several trailers over the years. As a family, we went camping many times. One of our favorite summer vacations was Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. We all loved it so much we went 5 summers in a row.
Dad retired in his early 60s, and after his kids moved to California, he and Winnie sold their Butler home and moved to the golden state in 1997. Dad immediately fell in love with gold prospecting, and at various points owned mining claims in California, Nevada, and Arizona. He won some gold panning contests, and was part of a group that guaranteed you'd find gold with your new metal detector—and he always came thru. His biggest finds were a 1.75-ounce gold nugget, and a 25-pound quartz nugget that had three ounces of gold in it, both of which he had made into various pieces of jewelry. He taught many of his grandkids how to pan for gold. He also collected silver coins.
Another retirement hobby for Dad was the Harmonicoots. Dad played the harmonica in a band with a bunch of other old geezers.
Chuck loved going on hikes, a regular Saturday activity for many years, many of which started by meeting somewhere for a big breakfast. Most of all, like Mom, Dad loved doing things with his family.
His kids have fond memories of their Dad…
• One of Jeff's most precious memories is all the compliments Dad paid him for his writing. He seemed genuinely impressed and told him so many times.
• In his later years Dad talked a lot about his trip to Spain in the summer of 1984 to see Greg in the Navy. They drove all around the country in a small rental car, and had no idea what they were ordering at restaurants so just pointed to pictures. Alcoholic drinks were only 40 to 60 cents so they always ordered doubles, and it always came with a baby bottle of coke. They saw castles and gardens and the Mediterranean ocean, but Greg said Dad was the most excited about the two week return trip on the ship. Greg had never seen Dad so relaxed and acting so young as that trip across the Atlantic.
• Kelvin is thankful for Dad showing him things like hunting and fly fishing… for being with him when he joined the Masonic lodge and the Shrine, especially accompanying him back to Butler when Dad received his 50-year membership pin… and the art lessons that had the big effect on his life since without them, Kelvin doesn't think he would've had the skills to buy the trophy shop.
• Josie is most happy that both her Dad and Mom could be at her wedding. She also still has the baby doll Dad bought her as a child—it was during a trip to get Christmas ideas but Josie cried and cried to get the doll right then, and Dad relented for his only daughter.
• Ashley's humor kept Dad entertained all his life, and he even arranged Ashley's very first stand-up gig, which was the beginning of his comedy career, a skill he honed around the dinner table with his Dad as his biggest fan. Ashley also discovered a trick that he could get out of punishment with Dad if he made him laugh—he's not sure if Dad ever figured that out!
Dad read his Bibles every day—a King James version since that's what he'd read as a kid, a Life Application Bible to interpret passages, and an easy-reading Bayside Bible. He recited the Lord's Prayer every night.
Dad loved Bayside Church in Granite Bay. He once told us that it had changed his life. His good neighbor Meryl Delaney became he and Mom's Sunday driver in the later years. Meryl also went to breakfast a lot with Dad, as well as on many walks.
His favorite dessert was chocolate chip cookies, something he'd sneak whenever he could get away with it! His favorite music was Country & Western. Some of his favorite singers were Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Willie Nelson. And like all those born in Pittsburgh, he was an avid Steelers fan, faithfully wearing his jersey during every game.
In the last months of his life, many cared for him but Josie and Ashley moved into his house full-time and met his every need. The compassion they showed toward their Dad was love at its purest. He passed peacefully on Thursday, November 5, 2020, knowing his family loved him.
Chuck was honest to a fault. He was a happy father and grandfather, smiling in almost every photo we took during his retirement. He wasn't perfect, as we all know, but neither is anyone. We know Dad's address now, a home Jesus began to build for him since his birth, a home we'll all someday get to visit ourselves.
That's why even though we miss him, our sadness is couched in a promise that Jesus himself offers to anyone who accepts him: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:1-4).
We all love you, Dad, and we'll see you again.