Charles "Chuck" B. Smallwood, age 72, Lakeland, Tennessee, passed to his heavenly home on Friday, July 3, 2020. Time stood still as Chuck’s peaceful passing was witnessed by his wife, their three children, and their spouses. His wife of 51 years, Kathy; son, Christopher Allen Smallwood (Sarah), Bolivar, Tennessee; daughter, Kelli Kathleen Adams (Quincey), Memphis, Tennessee; and daughter, Kara Nicole Chesarek (Theodore), Olive Branch, Mississippi, were honored to be with him as he was lifted into the arms of Jesus.
Chuck was born in Des Moines, Iowa, to Helen and Charlie Smallwood. He was preceded in death by his and Kathy’s Angel Baby; his loving parents; as well as sisters, Linda and Jeanie, and brothers, Larry, Bruce, and Doug. He is survived by his brother, Kevin, Richmond, Indiana; loving nieces and nephews; and Tom and Cheryl Orlowski, Lansing, Kansas, whom he loved deeply and considered a brother and sister.
Chuck was fiercely proud of and beloved by his grandchildren, William Robert Smallwood (a handsome and "Gung ho" U.S. Marine stationed in Hawaii); Aaron Christopher Adams (an aspiring KU Jayhawk basketball player); Daxpitchee Ahpaaxaash "Bear Cloud" Chesarek (a brilliant young member of the Crow nation and future astronaut); and his only granddaughter, Bauer Kathleen Chesarek (whom he lovingly nicknamed his "beautiful Indian princess.") Chuck also reveled in the fact that with the birth of Silas, William’s son, he was the patriarch of a four-generation Smallwood family.
His steadfast walk with his Savior Jesus was the central focus of his life. His wife Kathy and children, Immaculata High School, lifelong friends, the KU Jayhawks, and John Wayne were the other great loves of Chuck’s life. Kathy and Chuck were childhood sweethearts, Chuck often telling people they "got married at recess." They began going steady on Sept. 3, 1963. Chuck and the Duke, however, had been going steady since 1957. So, when it came to asking Kathy for her hand in marriage and starting a family, Chuck channeled his hero, the Duke, who famously said, "Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway."
Serving in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970 not only gave Chuck a chance to serve his country, but also helped to convince Kathy to agree to become his wife. He quickly learned that his suave dancing skills, stellar sense of humor, outstanding charisma, and dashing appearance in uniform were hard to resist. After two years of service and a bevy of love letters adorned with Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo cut from Cracker Jack boxes, Chuck and Kathy made it official.
After his stint in the Navy and graduating from his alma mater KU in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, Chuck began working for the Bureau of Prisons, retiring as an Education Administrator in 1997. During his and Kathy’s Bureau of Prisons careers that spanned more than 23 and 40 years respectively, the family lived in Lompoc, California, and Washington, D.C., and everywhere in between – often picking up stray cats along the way. In fact, rumor has it there was a small herd of approximately 47 cats, 3 dogs, and one bewildered parakeet ("Mr. Bird") who also welcomed Chuck as he made his transition to eternity.
Chuck treasured many friendships that spanned 60+ years with schoolmates, including Mike Robinson, Mike Connelly, Laird Simons, H.J. Willcott, Jack O’Connor, and Tom Brown. Some of his fondest memories were centered on his relationships with these reformed delinquents (many "thanks" to their wives!) and former altar boys. All incriminating evidence was a closely guarded secret and taken to Heaven by Chuck, who between those shenanigans and the ruckus created by the cat herd, will most likely have a lot of explaining to do!
All who loved Chuck couldn’t help but know of his great affinity for the University of Kansas Jayhawks and their top-notch basketball team. There is little doubt that the banners greeting Chuck at the Pearly Gates were crimson and blue or shortly were, after his arrival. If there’s an available surface, Chuck will certainly have affixed a Jayhawk decal or pennant.
Chuck was a stubborn fighter and the combination of this willfulness (NO ONE tells a Jayhawk what to do) and his love for his family allowed him to exceed the expectation of life projected by his medical team. Chuck was blessed with many miracles, and he was a testament to the awesome power of prayer, especially considering his significant health challenges.
Chuck’s firm belief was that if Jesus had played basketball, He would have played for KU.
This year’s Super Bowl win, by the Kansas City Chiefs, and the default win by the Jayhawks in the NCAA Championship (who obviously would have gone on to triumph) along with increased quality of life challenges, created the perfect timing for Chuck’s exodus from his earthly home. What more could possibly follow in his earthly life after such a trifecta? The only goal left to attain was Chuck’s heavenly crown and eternal life with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is holding him now in His loving arms.
A celebration of life for Chuck will be live streamed by Immanuel Lutheran Church on Aug. 1, 2020 at 10 a.m. at www.ilcmemphis.org. He will be laid to rest in Leavenworth, Kansas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in his memory be made to the Immanuel Lutheran School Tuition Fund in Memphis, in keeping with his support for Christian education.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.FamilyFuneralMemphis.com for the Smallwood family.