Charles Benner was born in Bakersfield, California July 22, 1923, the second of three children. The family moved to Long Beach, California, a year later as his father was pursuing a florist career. By age 4, both parents worked constantly in their family flower shop, except for the 8 p.m., family dinner. However, many close family lived nearby and they had many happy times together at each other’s homes, the beach and local parks.
Chuck loved playing in the vacant lots surrounding his home, watching planes at the nearby airport, making toys and worked from an early age in the flower shop cleaning plant waste, continually repairing the shop wooden floor, and assisting with flower deliveries. His parents felt academics were unnecessary as they intended him to run the family flower shop. Always very intelligent, he excelled at all classes that interested him, wood, radio and print shops, drafting, agriculture and crew, where he was the captain his senior year. Always with many engrossing hobbies; he loved photography, set up a darkroom in his restroom, built a ham radio station, and rebuilt his first car.
The family all worked very long hours but spent many Sundays at their Lytle Creek cabin, which Chuck, his father and grandfather were often modifying and later built a larger cabin. During his teen years, he would often stay during the week at Lytle Creek with a list of construction work to complete by the time the family arrived on Sunday. Many friends and family visited the cabin over the years for many treasured memories.
After high school, Chuck took a job installing venetian blinds to try to escape from the family flower shop. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and due to his high test scores, was sent to control tower school. Most of WWII he served in the British Isles, which he remembered as a rewarding, challenging but lonely time. He made lifelong friends, and after returning home, reluctantly, but successfully ran the family flower shop the next 10 years, while pursuing a Masonic Degree, Rotary and Elk’s Clubs, marched drill team with the Lybian Guards and received his pilot’s license.
He met his future wife, Nancy, on a blind date New Year’s Eve party in 1951. They married 10 months later. After 10 unrewarding years running the flower shop, with great relief, he sold it and began engineering classes at Long Beach City College, while working days as a draftsman. However, with a young child, Patty, born in 1956, he went to work for the City of Long Beach as a draftsman in 1960, and soon became their right of way coordinator and later the cadastral mapper, where he made assessment maps of property values and wrote map’s legal descriptions.
Their second daughter, Linda was born in 1965. A devoted and loving father, he enjoyed parenting and always read nightly to the girls, and frequently took the family on wonderful camping trips in their travel trailer, mostly Washington and Idaho, visiting family, where he taught them card games, fishing and hiking.
Always very active in the Methodist Church, Chuck taught Sunday school classes, served on many committees, and completed many woodworking and maintenance projects for their church. He organized many church outreach and social activities and loved the “Methodist Wheels”, a group of campers that had frequent campouts. At home, he enjoyed a model railroad club and built a huge layout in the garage, and built most of the family’s furniture over the years. He even studied painting so he could paint the scenery on the walls of the railroad models. He continued to enjoy photography and video recording and editing into retirement, and made many recordings of family events and vacations.
In 1995 Chuck’s only grandchild, Katie, was born. Living nearby, he was always a deeply devoted grandfather and she loved him to show her the trains, draw pictures, play or read together. Chuck continued his devotion to family, organizing family reunions, frequent visits, and keeping in touch with lifelong friends.
In retirement, Chuck and Nancy adventured on many fantastic trips, many National Parks, a month long U.S. trip, Canada by train, a cruise to Alaska, a month long European tour, a month in the British Isles staying at bed and breakfasts, Hawaii and even a couple trips to Las Vegas.
Chuck and Nancy moved to the Living Center in Stevensville in July 2015. They made many new friends in their new community and were grateful for good times together, the kindness of others, and the beautiful view of the Bitterroot Mountains.
Chuck was always deeply spiritual, had long ago accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, was at peace with his passing, and eager to join the Lord and many treasured loved ones. May God keep him safe and free. He was dearly loved by many as the special man he always was, beloved father, husband and friend. A memorial service will be held in Stevensville at the Living Centre on Saturday April 27, 2019, at 2 p.m. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.