Charles Rockwell died peacefully in the presence of his family on November 7, 2018. Charles was born on June 7, 1926 in Canton, Pennsylvania; the son of Martin L. and Violet V. Rockwell. He was the third of four children, his siblings were Martin V. Rockwell (deceased), Jane Palmeter, and James H. Rockwell (deceased). He was pre-deceased by his wife Carol R. Rockwell and is survived by his children Douglas (Susan), Stuart (Deborah) and Sally Rockwell; grandchildren Martin, Stacia, Grant, Margaret and Carolyn; and great-grandchildren Brooklyn, Niah, and Tre’Jean.
Charlie (as he was known) was a very active and inquisitive child, who is remembered among those of his generation for the Little Church that he built using as the base building an old chicken coop that his grandfather had built. He was the pastor of the Little Church with his sister Jane serving as organist and his brother Jim serving as sexton. It was well attended by the local children. It even achieved a note of fame with Charlie delivering a sermon that was broadcast by a New York City radio station and the church being featured in an edition of Life Magazine. The church building, which Charlie restored in the 1990’s can now be visited at the Troy Farmer’s Museum. In 1944 Charles enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and graduated from Canton High School. He was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. He was a Radioman Second Class (RM2). During World War II he was stationed at NAS Alameda and during the Korean War he was a member of the ship’s company, USS Twining, DD-540 that was deployed off the coast of Korea. Following his service in World War II he entered college at the University of Dubuque. While working his way through school at the Edward’s Coal and Lumber Company in Epworth, Iowa he fell in love with and married Carol Miller on June 25, 1950. They lived briefly in Epworth and following Charles’ recall to active duty for the Korean War, they moved to Oakland, California where his ship was home ported. Upon his release from active duty in 1952 they returned to Epworth and then to Canton where they made their home for over 66 years on Tioga Street.
Charles was a graduate of the University of Dubuque, Mansfield University and did post-graduate study at the University of Iowa. He is best remembered as a teacher. He started teaching in a one-room school house in Kidder, Iowa, then taught at Ralston High School and Elementary Schools, Liberty Elementary School, and Canton Elementary School. He also taught at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. He was a very hands-on teacher who reveled in finding creative ways for children to actively use devices, such as a binary adding-machine that he designed and built, to better understand mathematical and scientific principles, and took his classes on hikes to see their local history, such as the old iron furnace near Ralston, and to collect fossils above Rock Run.
Charles was a partner in H. Rockwell & Son, where he managed construction projects over the years, and handled needed maintenance. In 1958 when the business was constructing a new mill, the general contractor died and he managed the project to a successful completion. He is remembered by many as the “high wire artist” who would paint the high metal roofs of the mills during the summer months.
Charles was very civic minded. He served on the Board of Directors of the Green Free Library, Trustee of the Park Cemetery, and Board of the Church of Christ (Disciples). He served many years as the unpaid caretaker of Park Cemetery, where he maintained the grounds, repaired the results of vandalism and straightened innumerable grave stones using a fulcrum technique and tools that he developed. He was a member of the Church of Christ (Disciples) Canton and Church of Christ (Disciples) North Union, the Tin Can Sailors Association, the International Order of Woodsmen and long-time blood donor for the American Red Cross.
He is most widely known as the head of the Canton Bike Club and the author of a weekly column in the Canton Independent Sentinel that chronicled the weekly rides of the club and which was read by his “13 Faithful Readers”. Charles began serious biking in 1977 when he made an independent trek from Fuentebravia to Arcos de la Frontera in Spain. This led to his first long-distance trek from Norfolk, Virginia to Durango, Colorado. He yearned for more and in 1983 he rode from Canton to Boston, Massachusetts, then to Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada, and because he was ahead of schedule, he continued to San Francisco, California. Always he carried his camping gear with him and slept under the stars. Over the years he rode with the Club nearly every weekend, summer and winter, with stops at Our House Restaurant in Grover for Walnut Pie to keep up the Club’s strength. For many summers he rode with Dick Turner to Hammondsport, New York with an overnight stay at the National Hotel in Bath, New York where they would be joined by their wives, Carol and Kathy.
Charles was a true renaissance man and loving father/grandfather who will be deeply missed by his family and friends.
Calling hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at Pepper Funeral Home & Cremation Facility, 578 Springbrook Dr. Canton. Rev. Duane Taylor will officiate the funeral service at 1 p.m. followed by full military honors. Burial will conclude services in Canton’s Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, consider memorials to the Green Free Library, 38 N. Center St. Canton, PA 17724.