Charlie Oatman, Jr. was born Oct. 29, 1932 and went to be with his Lord and Savior on July 23, 2021. I was unable to attend his memorial service at Twin Valley Bible Chapel, but thanks to his daughter, Kim, and his son-in-law, Mike, I was supplied with a video of his memorial service, the source of which was used for most of this tribute article.
Charlie and his wife, Dolores, were married for 54 years until she predeceased him in 2008. He served in the Army during the Korean War as an MP in Austria, Germany and Italy. Charlie worked as a driver salesman for The Coatesville Coca Cola Bottling Company, retiring in 1994, after which he worked at part-time jobs. Charlie was a member of the Twin Valley Bible Chapel for 38 years, and served as a deacon using his skills to keep their vans and bus running. In his social life, Charlie founded the “Grumpy Old Men’s Breakfast Club”, where he held the title of CEO and President.
Because of lack of space, I can only relate a sample of what Charlie’s family members said about him.
Kim: quoting Proverbs 31:23, “The wife of noble character: Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land,” Kim reflected on her wedding to Mike Gerhart in 1984, her procession down the aisle was delayed as Charlie smiled, waved and even talked to some attending the wedding. Thus, Kim had to pull him along. Charlie whispered to Kim, “Are you sure you want to do this? We can turn around and go the other way!” Kim assured Charlie she was doing the right thing.
Mike: Forty years ago Mike asked Charlie for permission to date his daughter, Kim. Mike felt totally accepted. Charlie always had mints wherever he was. He would give you a pretty pill (mint) because it always produced a smile and therefore you were made pretty. Charlie taught Mike how to be a better father, deacon, bus mechanic and to serve and love. One of Charlie’s sayings (of many) was “I’m gonna bop you” (as he made a fist). Charlie’s last hurrah was he died on Mike’s birthday, which was a present to Mike because he never wants to forget Charlie.
Melissa Oser (one of Charlie’s granddaughters): Melissa had “sweet” memories of early morning visits from Charlie before he went to work (he started at 5:30 a.m.) to drop off goodies to eat, teasing her siblings; and delivering wood for their wood burning stove in his blue blazer truck. One time when delivering wood, Charlie thought he was practicing for the Demolition Derby by sliding down the backyard, going under a giant, sturdy swing set and having the back window of his blazer broken as the wooden swing twirled around and hit the window.
Emily Oatman (another of Charlie’s grandchildren): Emily loved to visit Charlie to help herself to Gummy Bears. When Dolores, was older, she used a cane and always kept Charlie under control by bopping him with the cane. Emily cleaned for Charlie for a couple of years. He always said she must be wearing wooden shoes because she made too much noise cleaning. One time when Emily came to clean, Charlie slept nearly the whole time. He finally woke up and Emily threw him a zinger by saying, “I left my wooden shoes at home this time.”
Chip (Charlie’s son): During the summer just before going into 12th grade, it was Chip’s turn to ride with Charlie on the Coke truck. It was his job to keep in order the empty return bottles, make sure the cart was placed on the back of the truck and assure the rolling doors on the side of the truck were pulled down. One time Chip thought Charlie had closed the door on the driver’s side and of course Charlie thought Chip had closed the door. What a mess when they went around a corner, both empty bottles and full bottles smashed in the road. They had to clean up as well as possible by using empty cardboard cartons. Charlie was not too jovial about the whole experience. More importantly, Chip was grateful in future years Charlie had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and was now in heaven. Chip said that life is short and wanted all at the service that were not saved by God’s Grace to consider it because Charlie would want you to.
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal savior, the 10 verses in the two sections below are of critical importance!
Pastor Tom Taylor (Minister of Visitation): Pastor Taylor read several apropos verses, including Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”; Job 1:21(b) – “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.” (John 3:16) – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting live.” (John 14:6) – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”
Pastor Bill Muller (senior Pastor): Pastor Bill spoke from I Thessalonians 4:13-18. His key points were Christians know that death is not the end. We must not be ignorant of God’s truth. Christians must not sorrow as those with no hope (non-Christians); Christ died and arose again. A forgiven life is a forever life. Christians should view death as a phase, not finality. We should all look forward to a day when we shall all be with the Lord. Pastor Muller’s final thoughts: He knows Charlie is in heaven! Will you be going to see Charlie in heaven?
This writer’s final thoughts: The 11 years I have delivered Meals on Wheels to Charlie. He has always been jovial and talkative. At times I have taken my wife or older grandson (now 11) with me to visit Charlie. When walking to the door to leave, I would usually wait a few seconds to leave until I heard a robust “THANK YOU” from Charlie. The numerous times we drove past Charlie’s house I would always say, “Say hi to Charlie.” All in the car would say, “Hi Charlie,” and wave.
Recently when we drove by his place, my wife said, “It will always be Charlie’s place!” This statement was almost correct. However, now Charlie has a much more beautiful place he calls home… Heaven! As Charlie’s daughter, Kim, put it, “I often think of the Lord looking upon Charlie and saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
Jeff Hall of Honey Brook contributes columns to MediaNews Group.
Source: Berkshire mont