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Charles A. ThigpenApril 19, 1933 ~ December 8, 2017 (age 84)
Charles Thigpen, 84, passed away December 8, 2017. He was born April 19, 1933 in Akron to the late Guyton and Elsie (Kraus) Thigpen. While Chuck experienced turbulence, our loving Lord said “don’t be afraid for I am with you.” His last few days were blessed as the angels came to take him to heaven where he will have an eternal home with his parents; son, Kenneth; brothers, Guyton, James, Arthur “Ray”; and two nieces; as well as other loved ones. He leaves his loving wife of 52 years, Helen (nee Dreisbach); children, Jan (Amy) Thigpen, Linda (Nick) Whitacre, Jerry (Renee) Thigpen, Mark Simpson and Crystal Ciancola; his sister, Jewell (Ralph) Darrow; brother, Richard (Donna); and sisters-in-law, Janie, Betty and Janet. He also leaves his 13 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren. and many nieces and nephews.
Chuck lived a full life with many celebrations and lessons, but through it all, the Lord blessed him. In his early years, he enjoyed playing in the canal by his home, swimming and fishing in the summer, then ice skating in winter. He was a boy scout, who especially enjoyed camping, and was a member of the YMCA. Chuck attended Lincoln Grade School (the only grade school with a swimming pool). In 8th grade he made the Championship Varsity basketball team; they played South High’s 9th grade team, winning by a score of 29-28. Coach Jim Applebee was a great influence in Chuck’s life. His nickname was Stretch because he was so tall and skinny. At South High he lettered in football & baseball while excelling in basketball and golf. He made the Varsity teams 4 years and was known best for his skills at center, rebounder & defense. St. Vincent was the Champion in 1948-49 and in 1949-50 Akron South played St. Vincent’s at the Goodyear Hall for the right to advance to the State tournament. With time running out and St. V up 1 point the crowd stormed the floor before the buzzer sounded. The referee called a technical foul on St. V and Sid Laria made the free throw to send the game into overtime. South won the right to advance to Columbus. OHSAA State Tournament was played at the Columbus fairground (now known as Taft Arena) Class A 1949-50 Semi-Final Akron South 40 Garfield Heights 38; 1949-50 Final; Springfield South 53 Akron South 48. During the State Final game Chuck held a Springfield South All American player who stood 6’10” (5" taller than he) to 9 points & fouled out during the 4th quarter. Many believed if he would have remained in the game South would have been victorious. Chuck was an All District & All-Ohio State basketball selection. He graduated in 1951 and received numerous scholarships, but took his first airplane ride from Akron Canton Airport to Louisville for his interview; he chose Louisville but only stayed a short time deciding to return home to Akron.
Stretch was a scratch golfer, receiving many trophies as well as achieving a number of holes in one. He enjoyed playing in the “Corner Open” (South/Princeton) with the gang from school. Golf was a love of his; he even flew his plane to Augusta, Georgia to watch the Masters Tournament.
Chuck enjoyed his time as a basketball referee. He was a member of the OHSAA, Greater Akron Basketball Officials Association where he served a term president, International Association of Approved Basketball Officials & also the Ohio Association of Basketball Officials. He officiated high school varsity and college level games. He also officiated things like the Cage Classic while working out of 3 conferences. He was a referee for approximately 30 years, ending his tenure in the mid 1990’s. During Chuck’s officiating somewhere in the mid-1980’s he worked a State Regional Final in the same Columbus fairground arena he played the 1949-50 State Tournament.
He was employed by Ohio Bell as an installer, AT&T in charge of phone-booths/coin operation, and became management for Ameritech as assistant security manager, retiring December 31, 1991. Chuck especially enjoyed playing intramural basketball with his colleagues and brothers during this time.
He was a certified private pilot for instrument & multi-engine. He & Helen purchased their first airplane in the late 1970’s, a Piper Cherokee 150; later purchasing a Piper Comanche 180. They enjoyed flying all over, east of the Mississippi, saying “only God could create such beauty during flying”. They were blessed to see what pilots call “The Glory” on February 3, 1997, at 8,000 feet just past the Ohio River on the way to Wadsworth. It is a circular rainbow with the plane’s shadow in the center of the bull’s-eye that occurs when atmospheric conditions are perfect when the sun, plane and shadow are in a straight line. He volunteered for LifeLine Pilots MidWest, a non-profit company providing access to free transportation on small private aircraft on humanitarian missions to help someone in both medical and financial need. He completed 14 missions during his time. Another special memory in the air was when Chuck & Helen had the opportunity to fly in the “Spirit of Akron” Blimp.
In his retirement years they especially enjoyed traveling. Thanks to the Darrow’s they took a number of mini-cruises on their 34’ yacht Raja from Fort Myers to many lovely destinations. They also went in their 44’ Sea Ray for a 10-day trip from Miami to Nassau and enjoyed a number of stops in the Bahamas. The Alaskan Cruise that was taken as a family and trip to Hawaii, where they were able to take a helicopter ride over a volcano, will always hold special memories. Chuck delighted in sharing his love of flying with his family by taking them on various trips, flying to Strickland’s for ice cream was always a big hit with his grandkids. He loved teaching his grandchildren all he knew from golf tips, to the proper way to cut grass or rake gravel, how to officiate a basketball game or shoot a perfect free throw. Summers were always spent enjoying cookouts & swimming at their home on Portage Lakes. One of Chuck’s most daring moments was when he and his grandson went skydiving together to celebrate his grandson’s 18th birthday, at that time Chuck was the oldest person to jump from that location.
He has now soared to the greatest heights where believers are welcomed. He completed his safest landing ever on December 8, 2017 surround by the love and care of his family. His pretty baby blue eyes have now been able to see Jesus.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
The family would like to offer special thanks to St. Luke’s of Portage Lakes, as well as the loving and compassionate staff of Summa Akron Palliative Care.
Per Charles wishes, cremation has taken place and a Celebration of Life will be held at 5 P.M. on Friday, December 29, 2017 at Schermesser Funeral Home, 600 E. Turkeyfoot Lake Rd. (SR619), Akron, OH 44319. Family and friends may call on Friday from 3 P.M. until the time of the service at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers the family would prefer donations be made in Chuck’s name to LifeLine Pilots, 6100 W. Everett Dirksen Pkwy, Byerly Aviation, Suite 302, Peoria, IL 61607. To leave a special message online for the family, please visit our website at www.schermesserfh.com.