Charlie was one of the first people I met after coming to Jasper in 1981. No doubt he had talked with my predecessor Doug Pearson and had been informed that there would soon be a new kid on the block at the Eagle and as was always the case with “Brother Charlie,” he wanted to be one of the first to greet whoever that new kid was. I believe that he caught me in the parking lot one afternoon, introduced himself and asked what church I attended. He wanted to be sure I had a church home, and if I had none, he wanted to invite me to come visit Jasper’s First Baptist Church. He was not so much concerned about adding a new member to the church rolls at First Baptist but rather that I was being discipled by some church family.
I was never around “Brother Charlie” that he was not upbeat, no matter the situation. And no matter when you saw him, morning, noon or night, he always had the same greeting, “Good Morning!” I can’t tell you how many times I have called him in the afternoon and it was always that same greeting. But that was just who he was. Even in his last few months while dealing with cancer, he was always cheerful and never concerned about himself, but rather was concerned about whomever he was visiting with or talking with. He called me a couple of weeks before he passed away to give me a tip for a news story. He was very good about letting us here at the Eagle know of things going on in someone’s life that we were not aware of and he believed the event or award was newsworthy. And he was always right. I will definitely miss that call now that he is in heaven on high.
Several years ago my daughter was having surgery at St. Vincent’s in Birmingham and the surgery was scheduled for 7:30 that morning. I had left Jasper and arrived at the hospital about an hour ahead of her surgery and as I walked into the room there was “Brother Charlie” visiting with my daughter and her mother. It was just uncanny how he would know when you were having a surgical procedure or were hospitalized, what time the procedure was and what hospital you were in. But that was who he was — caring and compassionate and doing what God laid on his heart to do.
I don’t believe that I ever celebrated a birthday that he didn’t call me and wish me a “Happy Birthday.” I can remember about a year ago that my phone at home rang about 7 o’clock in the morning. When I answered it was “Brother Charlie” calling to wish me a happy birthday. I commented that he was up and at it pretty early in the morning. He laughed and said “it’s eight o’clock here in Raleigh, that’s not very early.” He had called me from Raleigh, N.C., while visiting there with his daughter. I will miss those phone calls on Aug. 16 from now on.
But there are many that will miss those phone calls on special occasions because “Brother Charlie” never forgot.
I know that I will fondly remember all of the times he called, was at the bedside of a loved one, or just stopped by my office to wish me a good day.
He will be missed greatly by many in the community. But the community and those whose lives he touched will always feel they were richly blessed because they knew “Brother Charlie.” And that will be a legacy that will live on forever.
Jerome Wassmann is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle.