January 27, 1950 – December 26, 2013
Charles Whitson, 92, of Corpus Christi, Texas, died December 26, 2013 in the company of his family, completing his long journey on earth. Charles was born on July 18, 1921, in Millington. He was one of six children born to the late Alonzo and Violetta Bowers Whitson. There was no legal record of his birth in 1921. His mother, Violetta Bowers Whitson died at an early age. His father and the extended Bowers family of Millington raised the children. Charles’ father, Alonzo was fortunate to be employed as a railroad porter during the Great Depression. This job enabled Charles and his father to take many railroad trips. Uncas was his given name. When he enrolled in school the teacher said he needed another name. Charles Uncas Whitson became his new name. He was an outstanding student and excelled in math and science. He graduated from Manassas High School Memphis.
Mr. Whitson and his wife, the late Vivian Walton Whitson both graduated from Tennessee A& I in Nashville. World War II Army service interrupted college. He participated in the Invasion of Normandy, France. He resumed his college studies after the war and obtained a masters degree in chemistry. Boxing was one of the jobs held to support his wife and son. He often talked about once fighting on the same card with boxing champ Joe Louis. The family was growing and he needed a job. His uncle, Orange Whitson, an educator influenced him to pursue teaching. Charles declined his acceptance to Meharry Medical School. He lovingly chose and accepted a teaching position in Corpus Christi, Texas. They felt the mild climate would be more helpful for his wife’s asthma. On a segregated train Charles, his pregnant wife, Vivian and their 8-year-old son traveled to Corpus Christi in 1950. No housing was available. Professor Sampson, the principal of Solomon Melvin Coles School, extended the family a room in his home. Mr. Whitson was an outstanding math and science teacher for many years at Coles.
He assisted Professor Sampson and John Thomas in coaching tennis and football. After desegregation, he was assigned to Wynn Seale, King, Carroll and Miller schools. He retired in 1986 as a counselor. Charles was very outgoing and friendly and never met a stranger. Some of his pastimes were volunteering at HIALCO, tennis, bridge, CC Jazz Society, German Club and traveling the world. He served as a volunteer at the 1984 summer Olympics. Oh how he loved to dance! He gave new meaning to the phrase dancing the night away.
Retirement gave him the opportunity to learn to swim and to study Spanish. He enrolled in a Spanish immersion class and lived in Mexico for a month. He was active in Holy Cross Catholic Church for over 60 years. He was a very active member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He enjoyed 27 years of retirement. Beaumont, Texas has been his home for the past 12 years. He had a hip replacement and was showing signs of what is now called traumatic brain encephalopathy. He appreciated the Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church Family and the many strangers who took the time to chat with an old man.
He is preceded in death by his wife, parents, siblings and granddaughter, Crystal Miller. He is survived by his children, Chuck (Marie) of Long Beach, Calif., Beverly Vaughn of Beaumont, Texas, and Cecilia Whitson of Corpus Christi, TX; grandchildren, Rene (Gari) Thomas, Alonzo Whitson and Emerald Vaughn.
Visitation was held at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Friday, Jan. 3 from 9-11 a.m. There was an opportunity for every one to give expressions at the visitation; the rosary began at 11 a.m. and funeral mass follwed at noon. On Wednesday, Jan. 8, the family received friends from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the R. S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home at 374 Vance Ave., Memphis. Mr. Whitson was interred with his wife at the National Veterans Cemetery Memphis on Wednesday following the visitation.
The Leader (Covington, Tenn.)
Thursday, January 9, 2014