Charles's Story

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Charles "Charlie" G. Lewis, 98, passed away Monday, Aug. 28, 2017 at French Manor in Traverse City surrounded by his loving family.
He leaves his son, Todd (Bobbie) Lewis; stepson, Gene (Betty) Smith; granddaughter, Jennifer; grandson, Travis; great-grandchildren, Brady, Triston, Kolten and Abbi. Charles had many close friends from the Traverse Senior Center, Veterans organizations and his medical professional community. His lovely wife Dorothy preceded him in death in 2011, his brother, Ransom in 1989.
Charlie was born Thursday, Oct. 24, 1918 in Allegan, to Wallace and Ethel (Clark) Lewis. After attending Eau Claire Schools, he worked in three Upper Peninsula Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps until 1938. He returned to Fennville to work, then joined the U.S. Army on Jan. 24, 1941. After machine gun, small arms, and parachute service training at four Army camps, he entered combat with the 75th Infantry Division in Europe. Charles was awarded the American Defense Service Ribbon, Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon, two Bronze Battle Stars, One Overseas Service Bar, One Service Stripe/Good Conduct, and the Combat Infantry Badge. He served in Central Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge. In two battle actions, he captured three enemy soldiers, and said he was relieved that they were taken alive.
Returning from the War, he met Dorothy Wheeler, the absolute love of his life. They moved to Fairbanks, Alaska where they married in 1948, and had their son Todd. In 1959 they moved to California, then on to Traverse City where they opened the Shangri-La Motel on Munson Avenue. While his family ran the motel, Charlie continued traveling back and forth to Alaska where he worked as a painter, specializing on tall hazardous structures. When home in Traverse City he continued as a painter for J.W. Kraus until wanderlust began taking them to Florida and Texas in the winters. Charlie and Dorothy leisurely traveled, camped, hunted and fished, and returned to Traverse City for the summers. They were very well known and deeply loved in many places. Charlie was a daily lunch patron at the Senior Center where he and his cherished friend Leta King were highly accomplished Saturday night dancers, being crowned King and Queen in 2016 at the Senior Center prom. Charlie's beautiful invitation to Leta for her to attend the prom with him was printed on the front page of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Charles enjoyed being a member and volunteering in several organizations, including Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, and the VFW Post 2780 Honor Guard funeral team. He participated in every funeral he could, once attending three graveside burials in one day while in his nineties. He took his responsibility very seriously when handing the flag to the deceased Veteran's family. He was humbled by the opportunity to take an Honor Flight from Traverse City to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., but missed his dog Mitzy all day long. Charlie was well known for putting many others in front of himself. His kind and humble gestures were often included in his famous quips, such as when asked how he was feeling he would respond "I'm kicking, but not very high:, "I think I'm going to wear another clean shirt", or he would simply hold out his hand and feel his fingers to signify that he FEELS good.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 at 11 a.m., with visitation beginning at 10 a.m., at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
Burial will follow immediately at Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens.
Published on August 29, 2017
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