Charles William ConnorMarch 15, 1922 ~ November 13, 2017 (age 95)
Charles William Connor passed away on Monday, November 13, 2017 at home.
Mr. Connor was born March 15, 1922 in Shelby NC to the late Oliver Cleveland and Ricy Hawkins Connor, Charlie lived a full and active life before passing away unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep. Always curious, always learning, fascinated but sometimes quite vexed by technology, meticulous with his finances, and always generously sharing his love, his time, and his resources with his loved ones, Charlie was a beloved friend, father, brother, husband, uncle, granddad, and great-granddad. Without fail, when someone asked him how he was doing, his response was either “First rate, and I hope you are, too!” or, especially in his later years, “I’m here, but I’m not all there,” which, happily, really was never the case as his mind and his wit were as sharp as ever.
He is survived by his adoring children Dr. Charles William Connor, Jr. (Sherry) of Kings Mountain NC, Carolann Connor Willingham (Ed) of Raleigh NC, and Kenneth Forrest Connor (Judy) of Ramona CA, and by his devoted sister-in-law and brother-in-law Doris and Homer Newton of Hickory NC. Also left to cherish happy memories of Charlie are his grandchildren Lauren Connor, Shannon Bradley, Kirk Willingham (Reid), Ryan Willingham (Ali), Evan Willingham, Davis Willingham (Katherine), and Chip, Daniel, and Rachel Connor. His two great-grandchildren Connor and Knox Willingham brought great delight to Charlie and he was looking forward to welcoming his third great-grandchild in 2018. A host of friends, nieces, nephews, and extended family will long remember Charlie’s warmth, intelligence, and sincere interest in their lives and their well-being.
The love of Charlie’s life Lucy Stewart Connor, his parents and six siblings, and a daughter-in-law Rebecca Stutts Connor predeceased him. He loved and cared for them all with unwavering devotion.
Charlie graduated from Shelby High School in 1939 and exceled in academics, tennis, and basketball. His nickname was “Hot” which, presumably referred to his basketball scoring abilities, but maybe it was also because he was so handsome and charming. He enlisted in the US Army in 1942, serving during World War II in the Philippines, Japan, California, and Sullivan’s Island SC, where he fell in love with the Lowcountry of South Carolina. On September 2, 1945, Charlie was aboard one of the small boats beside the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay as the peace treaty to end the war was signed. Fearing a surprise attack by the Japanese even as they were surrendering, everyone was required to dress in full battle gear but, fortunately, the treaty was signed without incident and Charlie returned home to North Carolina.
In April of 1950, Charlie married Lucy and during their 62 years of marriage they raised their three children, living in Lincolnton NC, Fayetteville NC, Alexandria VA, and Gastonia NC. They enjoyed their church homes, playing bridge with friends, entertaining with good food and fellowship, exploring the country with friends and family, and supporting their children and their families in every way possible.
In 1956, Charlie and Lucy moved to Fayetteville where he began his career as a successful insurance agent with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and he mentored many young agents along the way. He remembered the names and circumstances of almost every sale or hire he ever made. At the time of his early retirement, he was a District Sales Manager and he and Lucy attended many MetLife retiree reunions over the years. Following his retirement, Charlie had more time to pursue his love of travel, farming, and antiques, and he and Lucy rarely missed an occasion to attend a grandchild’s play, sporting event, award ceremony, or graduation. Charlie was a modest and humble man but all bets were off when he had a chance to share news of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Having learned in his nineties how to use his iPhone and iPad, he couldn’t wait to share pictures and videos of his family with his friends at The Pines. He loved oysters, chocolate, the beach, churning (and eating) homemade ice cream, tending azaleas and roses, and feeding leftover food to the birds and the squirrels in his backyard. In his later years, he faithfully bought two lottery tickets every week and enjoyed fantasizing about how he would share his winnings with his church and with every single member of his large family. To enrich someone else’s life was much more important to Charlie than to “store up treasures on Earth.” He may never have won big in the lottery but we, as his friends and family, certainly feel that, in being loved by Charlie, we did.
Following Lucy’s death, Charlie moved to The Pines at Davidson where he enjoyed his independent living and most likely set records for how quickly anyone has ever learned the names and stories of their fellow residents. He was still driving and embraced any opportunity to be with friends or family. Earlier this year, he flew to Palm Springs, California to attend a grandson’s wedding and then enjoyed a week near San Diego with Kenneth and his family. He was often with Carolann and her family in Isle of Palms SC, remembering his days serving in the Lowcountry and being entranced by the herons in the rookery and the brilliant sunsets, and he loved being at Bill’s house “in the country” where he often worked in the garden and marveled at the beauty of the property and the antics of the animals. Charlie never let his age be an excuse for limiting his activities. When he moved to The Pines, he became a Davidson College basketball season ticket holder and only missed a couple of games over the last few years. After this season’s exhibition game, Charlie sent his daughter a text optimistically assessing the team’s prospects and eagerly looking forward to another exciting season. He cheered on the Wildcats with Carol and stood to be recognized as a veteran during the season opener on November 10, just three days before his death. Even at almost 96 years of age, Charlie never seemed old.
To celebrate Charlie’s remarkable life and his legacy of faith, determination, integrity, and love, a Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 25th at 1:00 PM at Bethany Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church where Charlie and Lucy were married (1400 Highway 161 North, Clover SC). A family visitation and reception will be held at 4:00 PM on the same day at The Pines at Davidson (400 Avinger Lane, Davidson NC). All of Charlie’s friends and family are cordially invited to attend either or both remembrances. In lieu of flowers and honoring Charlie’s love for children, the family would appreciate memorial donations to Children’s Hope Alliance (P.O. Box 1, Barium Springs NC 28010), or a contribution to the charity of your choice would be equally appreciated.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8