Life Story / Obituary
Some of us go through life single-mindedly, happy in the confines of the familiar, the ordinary, the every day. But not Chuck Canales. He was a man of many talents, many skills, and many loves. Chuck was a great athlete, a loving father, and a passionate outdoorsman, and a friend to many over the years. Most of all, Chuck was a man who taught us that being a great man means nothing, if you aren't a good man, as well.
Chuck's story began on a rainy St. Patrick's Day in 1938, in the bustling city of Battle Creek, Michigan. Those were difficult times for many in this country, as our nation struggled to climb from the deep hole of the Great Depression. Still, there was reason for hope. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted the Minimum Wage in 1938 (a whopping 25 cents an hour!), and his New Deal was creating so many opportunities for Americans everywhere. Here in Battle Creek, Al and Edna Marie (Gardner) Canales had further reason for hope and celebration, with the birth of their fourth of seven children, a baby boy they named Charles.
The Canales family was a tight-knit bunch, and although strict, Chuck's parents raised their children to be fine, hardworking people. His father, who delivered coal, in the Battle Creek area, died while Chuck was very young. Chuck and younger siblings were pretty much raised by their older sister Lillian and her husband Jack Coy, as their mother was in ill health.
Chuck led a typically active childhood, and he was always out playing games and sports with the neighborhood kids until the sun went down, or mom called him home for dinner. But who could blame Chuck for wanting to stay and keep playing? He was always so athletically gifted, and excelled at whatever sport he played. And he simply loved to be outside, and never liked being confined indoors.
Chuck attended Battle Creek Public Schools, and went to Battle Creek Central High School. Chuck was a very bright student, and dominated in the sporting arena, as well. He became a renowned sports figure in southwest Michigan, earning many accolades in football, swimming and especially diving. He also had the honor of being the first African American diver for Battle Creek Central, winning several trophies, as well.
After graduating from Central, during the summers Chuck was Lifeguard at Goguac Lake and after graduating he traveled various places putting on diving exhibitions.
Chuck married early and after having a family returned to school to complete his education, earning Cum Laude honors as he achieved his Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from St. Mary of the Plain College, Dodge City ,Kansas.
He was blessed with five children, Melvin Scott Coy, Michael Coy, Eric Canales, Dana Canales-Jamierson, and Aaron Canales, who filled his life with such happiness.
Chuck wasn't the great disciplinarian you might envision from a man of his physical presence, yet he never needed to be. He would, however, give his children a stern talking-to when the situation required it, or lead them on his infamous "Death Walk," which entailed them walking behind him and he didn't say a word. He didn't have too; it was the fear of the unknown.
But mostly, Chuck gave his kids lots of love and attention, and tried to be very active in their lives. He attended their sporting events, and took them sledding in the wintertime. He also passed along his deep love for the outdoors to his children (or at least tried to), by taking them camping and fishing with him. One thing he would never pass along, however, was the recipe for his secret barbecue sauce! Chuck was simply a master of the barbecue, and loved to grill up great food for his family and friends.
Eventually, Chuck's first marriage ended, and again married in 1974. Sadly, Chuck's marriage also ended in divorce, in the mid-1980s.
Chuck had a very active and varied professional career over the years, helping so many along the way. From 1976-79, he worked for the Missouri Job Corp, followed by one-year stints at Training Management Resources in Georgia, and New Chance in Dodge City. At New Chance, he helped rehabilitate young people and helped in their sports program, teaching Golden Gloves boxing. Then in the mid-1980s, he came home to Battle Creek, working for the city as a General Foreman, for the City Public Works Dept. where he supervised city workers.
Having worked for others most of his life, in 1987 Chuck started his own venture, Canales Landscaping, a business that lasted three years. Then he went to work for the Youth Project Corps in Battle Creek. From 1991-92, he returned to his college roots, working at the Santa Fe Trail Community Corrections in Dodge City. But he returned to Battle Creek for good in 1993, going to work for Neighborhood Incorporated as an Assessment Interviewer. He finished his career at the Southwestern Michigan Urban League in Battle Creek from 1995-96, as a Job Developer.
Chuck was a man who always found the positive in life, who always strived to do better, to reach higher. He was a man of many talents, many skills, and many loves in his lifetime. He was also a caring mentor, a loving father, and a friend to so many over the years. Most of all, though, Chuck was a man who taught us that being a great man means nothing, if you aren't a good man, as well. To those who knew him, Chuck was simply the best of men. He will be greatly missed.
Chuck passed from this life July 6, 2006 at Battle Creek Health System. He is survived by his children: Melvin Scott Coy, Michael Coy, Eric (Beth) Canales, Aaron Canales and daughter, Dana (Kenneth) Canales-Jamierson. Brother, John E. (Andrea) Canales, and sister, Linda (Kenneth) Griffin. His two marriages ended in divorce with ex-spouse, Gail Canales surviving. He is also survived by his precious grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
He is preceded in death by his Parents, and by his brothers: Theodore, Al Jr., George Canales, and sister, Lillian (Jack) Coy.
A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday, July 13, 2006 at 11:30 AM at the Second Baptist Church with Pastor James Ritchie officiating. Please visit Chuck's Today Page at www.todaycenter.com where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory, order flowers, or make a memorial donation to his children.