Choo Choo Remembered
My articles usually go to the web master several days before they are posted on the site. This makes some of the material that I write outdated but that cannot be avoided.
However, sometimes things occur which call for special treatment and the death of Charlie Justice is one of those times.
I had tried to prepare myself in the abstract for the fact that Charlie might pass on soon based on reports I had heard about his health. I felt better when I talked with him by telephone several months ago and he said he was "doing all right." I wondered if he was in denial, but I took him at his word. Then when I saw him at the Duke game two years ago, I realized that he was not in the best of health when he came onto the field in a golf cart and used a cane when he left the cart. That's the last time I had contact with him.
I mentioned that I had tried to prepare myself for his possible death, in the abstract, but that was of no help when I got the word on the internet that Charlie had died at 3:47 on Friday morning. I was O.K. until I went upstairs to tell my wife and when I started talking, I lost it. I don't expect younger people to understand, but Charlie Justice was my hero in my early years and he has maintained that hero status in the years thereafter. He was a hero in every sense of the word. I liked the way he conducted himself in addition to being the most exciting player I have ever watched or better still heard described on the radio. He was the right person at the right time for a state that was ready for some non-violent excitement after World War II and Charlie fitted the bill perfectly. He was a native North Carolinian, he was at the flagship state university, he was married, a veteran...you get the picture.
I wish I could be at the funeral but that's not possible. I understand that Sarah, Charlie's widow, has asked that attendees not make contact with her at the funeral and I can certainly relate to that. She is not in good health and some of us find the ordeal of dealing with well wishers at the time of death an added burden to bear. I hope the word gets out to those in attendance.
My mind will be in Asheville on Monday and I'm sure a lot of other folks will also be thinking of Charlie then and all the pleasure he brought us during the years. He was a truly great representative of UNC and he is going to be missed.
I even got my copy of "Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story" out and there inscribed on the first page are the words,
"To a real Tar Heel fan."
Charlie Choo Choo Justice
It is one of my most prized possessions.
If anyone is interested in reading what I have written previously about Charlie, you can use the search function at the left of the front page. Just click on "Search" and then type in Charlie Justice.