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Life Story / Obituary
A likable and fun-loving man, the life of Charlie Cisneros was enriched in countless ways through the family he loved and many friendships. He could strike up a conversation with nearly anyone with his friendly ways, and he could carry on a conversation for hours. Always willing to lend a helping hand, Charlie was someone with whom others could rely. From his dress and appearance to his cars and yard, he was most particular. Always to be remembered, Charlie’s helpful and loving nature was unmatched.
The 1950s marked a quieter, more stable time in America despite the conflicts of the Korean War. Families spent evenings together watching favorite television programs while Matchbox cars and Pez candy dispensers made their debut. As families moved to the suburbs, the need for consumer goods rose and manufacturing was at an all time high. By 1952, three out of five families owned an automobile while one in three homes had a television set. During this age of growth and innocence, the world was made brighter on December 6, 1952, in the lives of Carlos, Sr. and Anita Cisneros when the welcomed the birth of their son, Carlos “Charlie” Cisneros, Jr. Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, Charlie was the oldest of five children in his family which came to include Maria, Juan, Jose, and Rosario. Charlie’s father worked at a high-end men’s clothing store where he pressed clothes and flowers, and his mother did alterations. A good, obedient kid, like most young boys, he had his share of mischief, yet his father was sure to keep Charlie out of trouble.
During his youth, Charlie kept busy attending school and tending to the paper route he had. His younger brother, Joe and his father often helped him out, especially in the early morning hours. Charlie was quite involved in Boy Scouts and went on to earn his Eagle Scout badge. Before graduating from Martin High School in 1974, Charlie played football and baseball. After high school he furthered his education, taking several basic classes. He began working for the Coca-Cola Company, but on a whim Memorial Day weekend in 1976, Charlie and his brother Juan “Chique” decided to head for Michigan to visit their cousin who lived in Lawton.
Charlie liked Michigan and soon made it his permanent home, especially after meeting the young woman who forever changed his heart, Donna Boyco. Charlie started working at the State Hospital, and Donna also worked there as a resident care aide. From the moment Charlie laid eyes on Donna, he was in love. Donna was content being single, but after dating Charlie, she soon found he was easy to love. On December 3, 1977, Charlie and Donna were happily married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Paw Paw. With no honeymoon plans, they instead enjoyed the company of family and friends who had traveled from Canada and Texas to share their special day with them.
Before long, the newlyweds were overjoyed to welcome the birth of their little girl, Katrina. Charlie continued working at the state hospital from 1976 until the birth of their second little girl, Carla in 1981 when he was laid off from his position there. He supported his family for the following 17 years working for Upjohn Pharmaceuticals where he was active on the company’s baseball team. He left Upjohn in 1998, beginning a custodial services position with Lawton Community Schools which was closer to home. Charlie continued his employment there until 2012 when he began getting ill.
A friend of many and a stranger to none, Charlie made friends easily wherever he went, especially at the school. Since 1983, they made Lawton their home where Charlie loved keeping up with their house and doing yard work which was always pristine. Always a hard worker at whatever he put his mind to, Charlie maintained his own lawn mower and fixed everything so well it never worked again!
Charlie was involved in the lives of his daughters. As a father, he was protective and loving, and there wasn’t much he wouldn’t have done for them, except tolerate pets. He was supportive in every way and encouraged their endeavors. Having been a night person, he preferred working second shift which allowed him to be home during most of the day. Through the years he and his family enjoyed trips to Frankenmuth and day trips to see the nearby sights. They also traveled many times to Texas and Florida to visit extended family. Charlie and Donna shared a love for travel, and for their 25th wedding anniversary, they enjoyed a most memorable trip to the Caribbean.
An avid sports fan, Charlie was sure to read the sports section of the newspaper every day. He was a huge Dallas Cowboy and San Antonio Spurs fan, as well as a fan of the Detroit Tigers. When his grandkids came along, Charlie loved attending their many events, and he spent much time attending Lawton High School games as one of their best supporters.
When it came to music, Charlie loved Chicano music. He was extremely proud of his Mexican heritage, and although he was mostly a meat and potato’s kind of guy, he no less loved Mexican food. Eating out was one of his favorite things to do and he often preferred going to Texas Roadhouse, Culvers, and the Essenhaus Amish Restaurant and Bakery in Middlebury, Indiana.
Charlie was very particular about his appearance and kept his beard neatly trimmed at all times. He was known for spending long amounts of time in his “office”, the bathroom, and it took him nearly longer getting ready than his girls. Always well dressed, he usually wore a ball cap to cover this thinning hair. Charlie was just as particular about his cars, too. He washed and waxed them endlessly, evident he worked in the field of cleaning.
Having been diagnosed with cancer in 2013, Charlie fought the battle against this disease valiantly. He continued to live as normally as he always did until this past June 11 when he started becoming quite ill again. Although it was difficult to lose him, Charlie’s family is thankful his suffering, in many respects, was brief in time.
One would be hard-pressed to find a more caring and helpful man. Charlie was outgoing and friendly, and even though he was known for his temper at times, he was just as loving. Deeply missed, gone but never to be forgotten are the numerous memories he leaves behind.
Carlos “Charlie” Cisneros, Jr., age 63, died on Friday, July 1, 2016, in Kalamazoo. He was preceded in death by his parents. Surviving are his wife of 39 years, Donna Cisneros; two daughters: Katrina (Jason) Auton and Carla Beltran; four grandchildren: Kiana and Jaelyn Auton, Adriana and Nicolas Beltran; his four siblings: M. Antonieta (Ismael) Benavides, Juan (Irma) Cisneros, Jose (Maria) Cisneros, Rosario Cisneros; many nieces and nephews. Visit with Charlie’s family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Wednesday, July 6 from 2-4 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler & Thompson-Paw Paw, 60900 M-40; 657-3870. No services and cremation will follow. Please visit Charlie’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the West Michigan Cancer Center.