NOTE...Dad did not have any sort of viewing, wake, etc. He did not want one. I wrote the following as he would have had me write it. In other words, this is NOT the usual "politically correct" eulogy. I figured Dad was not politically correct, so why should his eulogy be. Here goes...
Charles Jerome McLellan
27 January 1924 - 30 November 2005
Charles was born to Robert and Lillian McLellan in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended Wylam Grammar School and also Hueytown and Fairfield High Schools.
As a teenager, Charles learned to work on cars. A car and a new set of furniture was pivotal in his joining the Navy in 1940. Long story short, he drove a car over his mother's new furniture that was in a darkened garage. His dad couldn't wait to sign the papers allowing Charles to join the Navy (Dad was "underage"), as he had finally gotten on his dad's last nerve.
Charles liked to "raise hell" and surely the Navy would allow him to raise hell anywhere that his parents weren't.
After boot camp at NAS Norfolk, he was assigned to the USS Wasp, CV-7, and would sail on her until its' sinking in 1942. He wasn't seriously hurt during the sinking, although he had to swim to survive because all the lifeboats he could find were full. He swam under burning fuel on the water and away from Wasp until the USS Duncan, a destroyer, hailed him and pulled him aboard.
After thirty days survivor's leave, he was assigned to COMAIRPAC (Commander, Pacific, Air) on Guadalcanal. This only led to more debauchery as he ran into friends from Heuytown and Fairfield that were serving with the Marines. He would bring them back to his camp and feed them Navy food. Additionally, in his spare time, he managed to make "raisin jack", a type of alcoholic drink.
Charles finished his Naval career at NAS Jacksonville, in charge of a "squadron" of "63 foot crash boats". Among other things, they responded to military aircraft crashes in the St Johns river area. Charles' dad and mom, having recovered from the car vs furniture incident, visited him there. Charles took his dad out on one of the crash boats and proceeded to get him drunk on the boat. Charles' mom wasn't impressed. Food from the base galley helped Charles get back in her good graces.
Now to illustrate Charles' not being politically correct, he always spoke of the following when talking about his days in Jacksonville...a new lieutenant ("90 day wonder") showed up at the boat house. That wasn't bad enough, but he wanted to make changes to the way Charles did things. So convinced, Charles was, that he wasn't going to change how he was running things, that he hit the lieutenant and knocked him into the St Johns river. After spending time in the brig and being busted a rate, Charles turned down the offer to be reinstated to his previous rate and he made the rate back, through the normal testing channels.
Soon came time to ship-over or jump-ship. Charles convinced several friends to ship-over with him and then he promptly shipped out, leaving the Navy for good.
He next worked different jobs and in different places such as in Chicago, Brownsville, Texas, and Kansas.
Mechanic work was his job of choice, working for Ford dealerships, running his own towing and garage service, and working as a mechanic for the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Charles' mechanical skills allowed him to listen to an engine and tell you what was wrong with it, or as I have heard so many times, "...it's the nut behind the wheel", meaning there was nothing wrong with the car except for me.
In his later years, Charles worked on washers and dryers in laundromats until eventually fully retiring in 1998. At that time, he also underwent a sextuple heart bypass and an aneurism repair and moved into a retirement home in Hueytown, Alabama. Still being young at heart, Charles was asked to move from the home after the staff discovered he was bringing beer and whisky into his room "against home policy".
He settled into another retirement home in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, where he liked to "steal" the television remote from the lobby television and change the channels while the other folks were watching TV. He would then hide the remote in his room and the staff would replace the "lost" remote. Soon, Charles would have the replacement remote in his room as well, and he would continue to change the television channels, causing all sorts of havoc in the lobby. Needless to say when we were moving his furniture from the retirement home after his passing, we discovered four or five different TV remotes...to include the original remote that the staff had searched for in his room, but could never find.
Charles' past times, among "fixing things", was listening to country music, dancing at VFW clubs and any other club for that matter, traveling, and annoying anyone that he knew he could annoy.
Charles was preceded in death by his wife of many years, Lilly Mae, in 1994. He missed her and always said "that woman straightened me out" and that he couldn't wait to be with her again.