Known to folks as Charles, Charlie, Chuck, CR, Dad, Pop, Opa or Grandpa, Charles Ray Knight was born February 26, 1929, the first son of E. Dale and Shirley Mae (Shanower) Knight in Kendallville, Indiana. Sister Betty and brother Larry followed along over the years. He grew up in Kendallville and frequented his grandparents’ farm in Wolcottville. There, he enjoyed spending time with and learning from his grandfather, A. Ray Shanower, and uncle, Wade Shanower, as well as snitching cookies and candies from his great grandmother’s cookie jar.
Charles married Blanche Cheatham on September 30, 1956. They settled first in Seymour, Indiana, spent a few years living in Indianapolis, and finally landed in Michigan Center, Michigan, in 1964. Their four children - Ken, Kevin, Shirley Kay, and Karen - completed the family by 1966.
Charles graduated from Purdue University School of Pharmacy in 1950. He worked as a pharmacist in drug stores and later at Foote Hospital in Jackson, Michigan, until his retirement from the hospital in 1987. Planning for an “early” retirement from pharmacy, he purchased Michigan Center Ace Hardware in the fall of 1986, and ran it until June of 2002.
He was an active member of Rotary International, with over 30 years of perfect attendance accomplished by attending meetings in many far-flung locations across the US, in Canada, and Europe.
After retiring a second time, Charles and Blanche built the log home of their dreams on property that has been in his mother’s family since 1831. He had hunted in the woods his family called “Shady Cove” with his grandfather and always dreamed of living there. Each corner of the home he designed was lovingly considered and built to stand for many more generations.
Charles was always pondering a new project. All who knew him have stories to tell of his many interests. His children remember camping in the pop-up and later the many happy memories at “the trailer” - later “Pine Oak” on the Pine River in Lake County, Michigan. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and passed his love of the outdoors to all his children and grandchildren. He fondly remembered many hunting trips to the west, but especially a trip to British Columbia with Kevin, bringing home a moose and a black bear between them. Charles believed that travel and adventure were crucial to education, and he provided opportunities for his entire family to experience them.
He loved his cars - which included big ‘50’s Buicks of his youth, a ‘64 Fiat 600, ‘70 Fiat 850 and especially the ‘66 & ‘67 MGBs he had through 2019. In retirement, he took up cooking and approached this with his usual curiosity and ingenuity. He also supported Blanche in her hobby of quilting by constantly engineering new tools, measuring out the next set of blocks, or coming up with ideas to help her in her projects. Everyone who knew him knew they would get good advice - and possibly several follow-ups as new thoughts occurred to him - if they asked him to turn their problem over in what he referred to as “his feeble brain.”
However one knew Charles Ray Knight, it is certain that their life was better for it.
Charles departed this life on July 22, 2019, passing peacefully in the home that he and Blanche built. Family will gather privately to say their goodbyes. Memorial gifts can be sent to Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D Land Trust (wood-land-lakes.org), or Ducks Unlimited (ducks.org).
Young Family Funeral Home, Wolcottville Chapel, State Road 9 North, Wolcottville is assisting the family with arrangements.