Wilmington O. Charles
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 NIV
As did Wilmington Owen Charles, who fought his good fight and won his eternal reward on March 5, 2023.
Wilmington was the only and beloved child born to the late James Charles and Roxie Tucker-Charles on Aug. 20, 1943, in Gurdon, Ark. The family would later move to Hot Springs, Ark., where his grandparents, the late Rev. Dr. Matthew (M.T.) and Gussie Tucker, would pastor the Eureka Missionary Baptist Church (now Historic Eureka Missionary Baptist Church). Wilmington was raised by his mother and grandparents. A mother whom he loved with no conditions. “Mother,” as he called her, was his heart and he did not hesitate to let anyone know how much he loved and appreciated her.
“W.O.,” “Tucker,” “Chief,” a few of the names that Wilmington would be commonly called by friends and family during his childhood, and school years as a Langstonian, and would follow him into adulthood. If your mother was a pianist and a singer, then you, being an only child, likely were going to be a singer as well. His love of music began early, and he loved to sing and he sang music of all genres. His early choir was at Eureka Baptist with the youth of Gaines Avenue, he then would sing with The Vesper Choir at his alma mater, Langston High School Class of 1962. This experience would prepare him for singing in the Vesper Choir at AM&N College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), where he would receive a BA degree in Sociology and Social Sciences: Music Education in 1971.
Wilmington’s life experiences and accomplishments prepared him for people-oriented occupations to fulfill his need to bring about a change to his community. He retired from Reynolds Metals in 2000. Yet he really wasn’t retired, he still found work to do in the community and attend his beloved Historic Eureka Missionary Baptist Church, where he and his wife were instrumental in purchasing the Historical Eureka Missionary Baptist Church Marker which is erected in front of the church.
Nov. 6, 1978, was the happiest day of Wilmington’s life. It was the day he married his friend, companion, soulmate, mother of his children, nurse, traveling companion, Rosemary Defroe-Charles, who would hold his hand and walk with him for 45 years. They would raise five children and 12 grandchildren. Family gatherings, get-togethers, sporting activities, good food and, of course, music completed family.
Happy, Talkative, Authentic, Reliable, Conversationalist, was what you got when you met Wilmington at a meeting, church, the store, a gathering, wherever. He loved to give you his best and in return, you gave him yours. If he knew something about someone you didn’t, he was willing to share the information. He always asked about someone pertinent to you. If he knew your family or grew up with them, he’d go back to those Langston days and past reunions or talk about “When things were.” But you always left with a smile after being in his presence. He just had that way.
He recently served as a dedicated junior deacon for four years for the J.M. Langston Lodge No. 84 PHA, he also served as a junior steward for M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM of Arkansas Olive Branch Lodge No. 5 and several other organizations in the city. His presence will be greatly missed by us all.
Wilmington was preceded in death by his parents, James Charles and Roxie Tucker-Clayton; grandparents, Rev. Dr. Matthew and Gussie Tucker.
Wilmington’s memories of love will be remembered by his wife of 45 years, Rosemary Charles of Hot Springs, Ark.; his daughters, Cassandra Charles Barnett, Little Rock, Ark., LaQuita A. (John) Hendrix, Arlington, Texas; son, Anthony L. Jones, Benton, Ark., Kenneth R. (Telisha) Jones, Carson, Calif., Wilmington O. Charles Jr. (Melissa Ramons), Springhill, Fla.; sister, Karen (James) Findora, Springfield, Ohio; brother, Ronny Woodson, Arizona; his 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A host of nieces and nephews, family and friends.
The visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. today, March 10, 2023, at Carrigan Memorial Funeral Services.
The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 11, 2023, at Eureka Missionary Baptist Church.
The guest registry is at http://www.carriganmemorial.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to Carrigan Memorial Funeral Services.