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Charles William (Charlie) Bolinger

1932 - 2019
Charles William (Charlie) Bolinger Obituary
Charles (Charlie) William Bolinger

Charles Bollinger passed away on August 6, 2019 at the age of 86 in Seattle, Washington. Born in Middlesboro, KY on December 31, 1932 to Cornie Tennyson and Azro Bolinger, he was raised by a single mother, and grew up a strong student, hard worker and thoughtful member of his community. He enjoyed time with his extended family, learning music, absorbing southern sensibilities, and enjoying all that Cumberland Gap, in hills of central Appalachia, had to offer. After high school he drove an ice cream truck, a job he believed would have become his career. Enlisting in the Navy changed everything. It gave him the great honor of serving his country, took him all over the world, and earned him a Bachelors degree and an MBA. He made the unusual leap from enlisting as a sailor (1952) to being commissioned as an officer (1960) and working his way up until finally retiring as a Captain 34½ years later.

Charlie was chosen to participate in a program sending enlisted men with great potential to college. The University of Washington is where he began his career in aircraft maintenance, which took him to 8 different states, and over 4 years of deployments, serving in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and being on deck for the tragic accident on the USS Forrestal. He experienced different cultures, greeted foreign dignitaries, created novel systems of tracking and logistics, and lead teams of committed men and women. He retired, July 1, 1986, from COMNAVAIRPAC in San Diego, where he served as the Staff Materials Officer, responsible for all fixed-winged aircraft in the Pacific Fleet.

From motorcycle trips across country with his best friend Chuck Cater, to motorhome trips with his wife Freddi and kids, he explored the land that he loved and treasured the open road and visiting family and friends. Their motorhome trips showcased the great love and partnership of 43 years between Charlie and Freddi, where each excelled at their roles of planning, teaching, joking, connecting with friends far and wide, keeping the ship afloat, and loving life and each other! In his retirement he created a backyard oasis, delighted in his family, perfected his mint julep recipe and served as a Seattle Seafair Commodore.
Charlie was always ready to sing and play a song on the guitar or piano (only playing by ear), go golfing, or tell a good joke. His charm was immediately apparent and his deep honor and kindness left an indelible mark. His family, near and far, provided grounding and a purpose in his life. He was an unwavering support for his four children, teaching them to always work hard, be prepared, show compassion and find the humor in all that they do. As a grandfather to three grandsons, he assumed the role of cheerleader, hug giver, and always-proud Papa.

Charlie was preceded in death by his mother Cornie Tennyson, and his father Azro Bolinger (Ethel), Barbara Anne Bolinger (mother to David and Elizabeth), his brother Lt. Col. Fred Bolinger, and his mother- and father-in-law Ann and Stan Nelson. He is survived by his wife Freddi Bolinger; his children David Bolinger (LeeAnn), Liz King (Gary), Ericka Sisolak (Brian) and Charlie Bolinger; his grandsons Jeffrey King and Miles and Cole Sisolak; sister Jeannie Bowick (Arthur); sisters- and brothers- in-law Marvel Bolinger, Stan Nelson III (Robin), Barbara Nelson (Jim Bradshaw), Pam Nelson (Tom Strotkamp) and countless cousins, nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Charlie's life will be held locally on September 21, 2019 at 14504 186th PL NE Woodinville, WA 98072 (2-5pm) and at a future date at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to the or Seattle Children's Hospital in his name.
Published in The Seattle Times on Sept. 8, 2019
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