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Brevard - Charles Wilson Pickelsimer, Jr., 80, of Brevard, died early Wednesday morning, July 6, 2011 at Tore's Home, after a period of declining health. He was encircled by the love of his family until the moment of his death.
Charles was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 60 years, Marjorie Ann Bryant Pickelsimer, his parents Mary Agnes and Charles, Sr., his oldest sister Mary Ethelyn Pickelsimer Doyle, his older sister Annah Louise Pickelsimer Dunn and his brother-in-law Jack Edward Bryant.
A native and life-long resident of Brevard, Charles was the fifth generation of his family to reside in Transylvania County. Born May 25, 1931 in the family home at 236 West Main St., he was the third of four children born to Mary Agnes Williams of Petersburg, Virginia and Charles Wilson Pickelsimer of Brevard. He was educated in Transylvania County Schools, Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida, and Christ School for Boys in Arden, NC.
Charles was five years-old when his mother died, leaving his fifty-five year old father with four children under the age of twelve. Although his then twelve year-old sister, Ethelyn, attempted to step into the role of mother to her three younger siblings, his mother's untimely death and his father's lack of hands-on parenting experience taught Charles to be resourceful, independent and self-reliant - skills that guided him throughout his life. This devastating early loss also taught him compassion for those who are helpless to help themselves.
As a student at Brevard High School, Charles met and was enchanted by Ann Bryant, a fellow classmate. He always said her stunning physical beauty paled in comparison to the beauty in her heart and he pursued her with his characteristic persistence. They were married December 1, 1950 and embarked on their shared goal of creating a strong and loving family.
During his teen-age years, Charles began working for his father at Citizen's Telephone Company - climbing poles, stringing cable, and doing whatever was necessary to learn the inner workings of the business. Charles was only 22 years-old when his father appointed him Vice-President and General Manager of Citizen's Telephone Company, a position he held until the company was sold to Comporium on December 1, 2008. By his own admission, he was not adequately prepared for this tremendous responsibility at such a young age and used those skills learned in childhood to figure it all out - fast!
Charles immersed himself in emerging technology within the telecommunications industry in order to serve the people of his community and the local industry - Olin Corporation, DuPont, American Thread and NASA - businesses that depended on Citizen's Telephone Company to provide them with cutting edge service. Charles and his younger brother, Joe, made Transylvania County a telecommunications leader in the state of North Carolina by introducing lightening resistant fiber-optic cable, a high-speed digital switching system, first company in the state to offer county-wide private telephone lines and donating Emergency 911 service to the county.
Charles enjoyed the political and social activities of the telecommunications industry. He was elected President of the NC Telephone Association and a Director of the United States Telephone Association. Equally active in local civic affairs, Charles served as President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. He served as a trustee/director to Brevard College, Brevard Music Center, Blue Ridge Community College, Transylvania Community Hospital and the Alternative Energy Corporation. He was humbled to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Telephone Association and to be named the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year, Transylvania County Friend of Education, and Director Emeritus of First Citizen's Bank & Trust, Co.
Charles was an avid pilot who earned his private pilot's license in the early 1960's. He became instrument rated in the 1970's and his landings were as smooth as glass. When the family compared his landings to those of commercial pilots, Charles wryly noted that it does make a difference when you pay for the tires yourself. He loved riding in a convertible with the top down, roller coasters, water skiing and traveling en masse with Ann, the children and grandchildren to the great cities of the United States. The grandchildren could always count on their granddaddy for ice cream, pizza, peanut butter on a spoon and M & M's. Charles was a great singer and could not stop dancing if there was music playing. He was a very patriotic person who felt blessed to be an American and cried whenever he heard "The Star Spangled Banner."
Known as "Charlie" to his friends and family, he particularly loved being called "Granddaddy" and never wanted anyone - even children - to call him "Mr. Pickelsimer." It was just too stuffy for his liking. A very straight-talking and tender-hearted man, Charlie's door was open to anyone seeking counsel and no topic was off limits. He was a problem solver who kept a note pad, pen and tiny flashlight on his bedside table in case he woke up in the middle of the night with an idea. He was not always comfortable in the spotlight and preferred to help anonymously when possible, grateful for the chance to make a positive difference in the life of another human being.
Charles is survived by his daughter Marjorie Lynn Pickelsimer Williams, his son Charles Wilson Pickelsimer, III and his wife Beth; his grandchildren Whitney Anne Butterworth, Natalie Bryant Pickelsimer, Charles Wilson Pickelsimer, IV; his great-grandson Alexander Fernandez Keen; his brother Joseph Edwin Pickelsimer and his wife Nancy, all of Brevard; his sister-in-law Janice L. Bryant of Raleigh and a number of nieces and nephews.
A memorial service celebrating the life of Charles will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 16, 2011, at the First United Methodist Church in Brevard with the Rev. Michael Jordan and the Rev. Marcus Dotson officiating. The family will receive friends after the service with a reception in the church fellowship hall.
The family wishes to thank those kind people who loved and cared for Charles during his recent illness, including but certainly not limited to Debra Cooper, W. O. "Perk" Parker, the staff at Tore's Home, Transylvania Regional Hospital-Hospice, and Bayada Nurses.
In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting organizations that benefit and nurture the people of Brevard and Transylvania County. SAFE, 69 North Broad Street, Bread of Life, 248 South Caldwell Street, Brevard Music Center, 349 Andante Lane Brevard, Transylvania County Library, 212 South Gaston Street, Transylvania Regional Hospital-Hospice, 1266 Asheville Highway, or the Porter Center at Brevard College, 1 Brevard College Drive, all Brevard, North Carolina 28712. If there is another worthy organization that you feel would benefit from your support, Charles would be honored that you helped them in his memory.
A register book is available online for family and friends by visiting www.thosshepherd.com.
Thos. Shepherd and Son Funeral Directors and Cremation Memorial Center is in charge of arrangements.
Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on July 14, 2011
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