Charles John Mott
January 18, 1929 - November 8, 2020
Charley Mott was born to WJ and Ruby Ramey Mott in their yellow frame Huntington home on January 18, 1929. Aunts attended, downstairs the men smoked. They were three brothers, drillers, business partners, descendants of colonials with rumored Seneca blood. Among Charley's earliest memories is men's wash day in Buffalo Creek, Carter, Ky.; naked, being passed down the slippery bank with squirming boy cousins for a raw home cut lye soap scrub from his powerful grandfather, Charles Ramey. Carter is a small place, in old days hosting large family reunions; civil war veterans, racing children, tables of farm food and canned relishes. It was there, on a draft horse yanking the family car along a red clay road, that Charley heard the news of Pearl Harbor.
Young Charley was attentive to honor and duty. He once bloodied the nose of a bully who had jumped his cousin. Gentle Ruby made Charley apologize. Irascible Bill was proud, prouder still when Charley won the 1942 National Marble Championship in Wildwood, N.J. The victory became a Pathe newsreel feature and pictorial in Parade magazine. One New York sportswriter enthused, "The kid doesn't appear to have any more nerves than the fireplug on the corner." Huntington turned out a crowd to greet that victory train. His two brothers and a pack of family accompanied Charley to civic honors.
Marbles introduced Charley's lifelong sports virtuosity. Reminiscing, his high school basketball coach's son looks down, shakes his head, "Charley Mott, Charley Mott... Dad often told me Charley Mott was the most talented athlete he ever coached." It was a time of leather helmets and hand cut numbers sewn by Ruby for her boys on their wool jerseys. "Mott blocking for Mott, passes to Mott...Touchdown!", read one column. Charley played four sports all three years earning twelve varsity letters. Down by a point, Huntington High Track had no final event entry. Charley borrowed a javelin and secured the West Virginia State Championship for his team.
Instinctively, Charley has been a team player. Through the discipline of Greenbrier Military School, character building years at the University of Virginia, with the crisp precision of 2nd Lieutenant in Korea and as Alumni, repeat Civic Board Member, and Founder... Charley led and also followed. "How can I help?" is his watch phrase and "Hello friend!" is his greeting. To hear folks enthuse "Chaaallee!" is ever a call of easy fellowship. At UVa, the "Spirit of the University Award" in his honor concludes, "Charley Mott, he never met a stranger."
Charley first learned to drive a black Model A farm truck, bailed hay with wire and plowed with a mule. He admired Remington, Russell and Catlin. Charley's favorite poems were Kipling "If" and Malloch "Be the Best of Whatever You Are". The quaint and addictive tunes of a simpler day, "Four Leaf Clover", "Paper Doll" and "Moon River", were his gusty vocalizations. He chanted crazy ditties like " McGinty's Goat" and "Hole at the Bottom of the Sea". Charley was a "Z", a DKE and an Episcopal Deacon. He helped produce movies and served on countless committees. He adventured with a micro valise on "Space A" military flights, arriving in exotic destinations with sharp creases. Charley must have been the world's fasted two finger typist. His crooked salutation, "Good Morning!" opened most family letters. To grandchildren, Poppie modeled generosity and dignity, gardened, golfed, danced, sang, hunted duck and dove, safaried in Africa and confided enthusiasm, faith and optimism. Charley Mott is the most optimistic man you will ever know. His curiosity extended beyond his predispositions and because of that, Charley never failed to grow in knowledge and in spirit.
Colonel Charles John Mott received the Legion of Merit from the Secretary of the Army. He served on President Ford's Clemency Board to repatriate our lost sons from the Vietnam era. Fifty years later, in coincidental contact on a crowded Avignon street, a man responded to hearing the name "Mott" by gushing in English, "Mott, Mott... I knew a man name Mott! Charley Mott! Charley Mott saved my life!" Tears for a common benefactor followed from two strangers, now brothers.
Charley respected venerable women, in return he was their favorite... even as his age exceeded their own. From Ruby, he learned to cherish cooking, to provide nourishment and feel comfortable in an apron. Charley's roasted country hams glistened with apple jelly melting over diagonally scored crust, a clove in the center of each diamond. He steamed eggs, gently basting the yolks with butter. He fried apples, chopped slaw, simmered soup, baked fudge, relished turnips and embellished his stories with distinctive details. If he was a bit vain; well Lord, you made him handsome. And if he was proud, it was an often expressed pride in us. Charlottesville, Virginia was home and the lovely Karin Vetter of Tulsa, his wife of 69 years. He generated a son, two daughters, eight grandchildren, a growing cadre of great grandchildren and troops of affectionate friends from each venue of life. The boy baptized in Buffalo Creek became our Patriarch, became his community's inspired and generous soul. We are proud. We delight in the legacy of your spirit, Charley Mott.
Colonel Mott is survived by Colter and Steffanie Mott (Penton and Hayes), Marcie and French Slaughter (Caroline, Kiki, Hunter [Hill, Finleigh], D. French, Marit) and Larkin Mott, Trooper Earle (Tiernan, Cameron, Christopher Charles Boland).
A celebration of Charley will be scheduled when season permits. Charley was a Founder, later a nine year resident, of Westminister Canterbury. Your memories are valued if shared there with: Karin Vetter Mott, #306 WMCB, 250 Pantops Mountain Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22911.
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Published by Daily Progress on Nov. 19, 2020.