Our father, grandfather, and great grandfather passed away on October 30, 2020 in Orem, Utah at the good age of 84 surrounded by family on both sides of the veil. Charles Ray Williamson was a true son of the west. He was born in Deadwood, South Dakota on June 11, 1936 to Elda Vercellino and Charles Williamson. He grew up in Lead and Belle Fourche South Dakota. He graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1954.
Dad first met his wife, Luella Mattson, when he was 11 years old outside Roxy’s Boarding House in Belle Fourche where she and her mother were visiting. As Luella sat on the porch considering the long hours of a warm summer afternoon, she noticed a beanpole of a boy passing on his bike who by chance also noticed her. Not to miss an opportunity to bedazzle a picture perfect Montana girl, Dad performed several of his best bike tricks using the sidewalk as his stage. Luella returned to Montana and their short-lived acquaintance was over, at least that is how it seemed.
Fate brought them back together again several years later when the Mattsons moved to Spearfish, South Dakota. Charles and Luella found each other again at a dance hall in Spearfish. Their renewed friendship led to courtship and marriage in June of 1956. They celebrated their 64 wedding anniversary last June. Their union resulted in the establishment of an American dynasty of 8 children, 31 grandchildren, and 47 great grand children with 2 more on the way.
Dad was a quirky fella who preferred his small room and miniature TV tuned in to Fox News over the larger rooms in the house. He wasn’t one for waste or frivolity. His closet held the bare minimums necessary for polite company; one suit, one pair of jeans, and a couple favorite shirts. “I grew up in the depression…..” was his preamble to a speech outlying the multiple reasons why purchasing anything more was a waste of money and closet space. “When I was a kid I used rubber bands to hold my shoes together…” was his reasoning why he couldn’t bother with more than two pairs of shoes. He always got by on less just to prove his point.
Although Dad lived in Utah for nearly three decades, he always considered the Black Hills of South Dakota his home. He worked for the South Dakota Highway Department for 30 years before retiring at age 55. He surveyed nearly every highway in the western half of the state during that time and had the stories and stories and stories and stories to share with anyone with a patient ear about those days on the open roads. He and Mom joined the LDS church as newlyweds. Dad served in many church callings and played a large role in shepherding the local LDS community from a few small branches scattered across the Hills into the Rapid City Stake. In fact, speaking on behalf of the family, we feel it only proper to proclaim him South Dakota’s favorite son; and as such believe a petition is in order to have his features carved on that large open section of granite next to Abraham Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore.
After Dad retired from the South Dakota Highway Department he and mom moved to Utah to be closer to family. This is where he found a new home away from home at the newly opened WalMart in Orem. Dad spent over 25 years at that one store working primarily in the garden center. He was good old “Charlie” to both his co-workers and his thousands of customers. Dad loved two things about Walmart; his fellow employees and all the stories Walmart gave him to tell to anyone with a few minutes to spare at every social event he attended. Dad was a workaholic whose idea of a proper death would be to suddenly collapse at the store while watering the petunias. While that wasn’t the case, he was still working in his garden center up until two weeks before his passing.
Dad went by many names; Dad, Charlie, CB, Chuck, and Grandpa. He was a man of his generation; a quiet man of many tales to tell of simpler times in a simpler age. He shunned modern technology but in the end became a fan of laser discs so he could listen to the greatest hits of the 1950’s at full volume as he sped down the highway to Wendover, a community blessed by a share of his monthly pension. He was the living definition of someone impossible to buy things for, so in the end you went to the reliable standbys which were sure to please; spice drops and orange slices candy, Arizona Green Tea, Cheetos, and Little Debbie cakes. Give him those, his small room, his tattered favorite couch, and Sean Hannity on TV and you had a happy man indeed.
Everyone loved Charlie - the steady, reliable, devoted anchor of our family.
Goodbye Dad. I pray you’ve found a small unimposing cloud to call your own drifting lazily across the pine scented Black Hills sky.
Graveside services will be held Friday, November 6, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. in the Pleasant Grove City Cemetery. Due to Covid 19 restrictions face masks and social distancing are highly encouraged. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.olpinmortuary.com.
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