A Fond Farewell to Boyertown's One-man Committee--the CCC: Charles, Community Champion


by Jane Stahl

Saturday, December 30, 2023, was Charles Haddad’s funeral service, held at his beloved church St. John’s Lutheran Church in Boyertown. A beautiful collection of photographs was offered by friends and family, organized for viewing before the service and available on YouTube. (YOUTUBE.COM: Remembering Charles A. Haddad)

Remembrances were touching and captured the life and spirit of an extraordinary man who graced the community with his many talents, leadership, vision, and hands-on help. I, too, have memories similar to those shared during the service.

His involvement with the Bear Fever project was unique. He was one of a handful of attorneys to offer funds toward an attorney share bear named The Barrister. Beyond funding, he also worked with the students who painted the bear in developing the The Barrister’s theme: visual representations of the country’s Bill of Rights. One day at school, I heard the students call down the hall to me, “The lawyers are coming” when he and attorneys Charles Fryer and the late Ken Nyce visited to inspect the progress of The Barrister.

Students were wide-eyed and disbelieving one evening at WPAZ radio station when we recorded his explanation of each of the symbols the students had painted on the bear in one takewithout notes. His flawless rhetoric in his regal and authoritative tone made a lasting impression on them.

Further, Charles and Mary-Lou hold the singular distinction of arranging a luncheon for the students, teachers, and attorneys who were involved in the project, celebrating the finished Barrister Bear.

A few other special memories are related to Studio B Art Gallery. Charles assisted in securing a location for the studio and a source of funding to cover the rent for its first year. In preparing the studio for opening, I found him one day on hands and knees, scraping glue from the studio’s floor that had held down the carpet, wearing gloves that were melting on his hands from the chemical solvent. On another day he was on a ladder painting the outside of the studio.

In December 2008, a ribbon cutting was held for Boyertown's newly-opened fine art gallery Studio B. Pictured left to right, back row Marianne Deery, Paula Toomey, Angie Namowicz; front row Edie Biebuyck, Susan Biebuyck, Jane Stahl, Matt Robb, Heather Moyer-Dailey, Charles Haddad, Unknown, Jimalee Gottshall, Unknown

He organized dinners at the studio for assorted groups—the Rotary Club and borough council, for example—to help get the word out about the studio’s existence. He purchased the tablecloths, dinnerware, and utensils we used for those dinners. He regularly purchased artwork or offered donations. He was the patriarch of Studio B.

Charles’ generosity impressed me on the night we first met. I had dropped in as a guest at a fledgling Building a Better Boyertown (BaBB) meeting 20 years ago. As I remember, he, very quietly and humbly, asked the group if they would like him to prepare the application requesting Boyertown be accepted as part of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center’s Main Street program.

Charles chats with the late Melba Rigoni, visiting from Michigan and her daughter, the late Vickie Brown with mural backdrop image created by Dave Larson, installed by artist Robert L. Williams.

Having written these kinds of applications on a tiny scale myself, I knew the effort involved in his offer, imagined the impact his effort would have if he were successful…as it has been…and realized the tremendous on-going work it would involve to keep the project and the designation going and growing.

His effort, as we know, has enabled the organization named BaBB by the late Mayor Marianne Deery to grow exponentially and to exist in its present form—as an award-winning organization—and serves as a defining moment of the qualities we will always remember about him.

Left to right: Jake Lea, Roger Lehmann, and Charles show off the watering device utilized to keep the planters watered on Reading and Philadelphia Avenues. The planter project was initiated by Charles to honor his wife Mary Lou. 

Volunteering with the General Carl Spaatz National USAFF Museum became one of Charles' most recent activities to serve the community.

Charles' connection with Steve Maguire inspired the revitalization of Boyertown's State Theatre. Photo left to right: unknown, theatre manager Shannon Shaw, Charles Haddad, JoAnne Maguire, Steve Maguire. 

But, you know, Charles’s many achievements are not the most important reason many of us honor and will remember him. Many of us recall his role as a tireless cheerleader when we needed encouraging words, a listening ear, and the support of a good friend, loyal husband, loving father, and doting grandfather whose compassion and eagerness to help others are defining qualities.

Many of us can offer testimony to the effect, the influence, the inspiration Charles has offered through his life of service and willingness to take risks others would never consider. But my guess is that many are compelled by personal gratitude for his compassion and friendship during tough, sorrowful personal crises hoping someday to repay the comfort he’s provided through his legal advice and counsel.

Charles wore a cloak of regal authority, bearing in quietness and in strength a sympathetic heart eager to assist those in need or to offer a second chance. His faith in the goodness of men and women—the commitment to justice tempered with grace--has lifted, I’m certain, many hearts.

And it is, as poet William Wordsworth writes, those countless, private, “acts of kindness and of love” that headline our memories. It’s quite simple, really. Charles has been there for so many of us when we needed him. And on Saturday, we were here for him, to pay tribute, as Horatio does for Hamlet, calling on “flights of angels [to] sing thee to thy rest.”

One last memory: in introducing him at his Citizen of the Year banquet in 2007, some may remember that the year before I had announced a desire to initiate an Arts and Activities Alliance that I’d call the AAA and hinted during that same speech that Charles, who had just recently coordinated the assorted civic and service clubs toward the creation of the Civic Walkway, may one day invent a coalition of those groups and call it the CCC.

At his event, a year later, I spoke as the coordinator of the recently established AAA, a fifth committee of the BBB—a committee that Charles had initiated—saying that it was my pleasure to introduce the CCC, a one-man organization, for the first time: Charles, Community Champion.

Community Champion he surely has been. Today, 17 years later,  it is my equal pleasure to thank him one last time for everything he’s done for so many of us. Shalom, my friend. Enjoy your peace and rest. You have certainly earned it.

In his own words...

Boyertown High School telecommunications teacher Bill Cherkasky posted Charles' acceptance remarks from the TriCounty Chamber dinner that awarded him the James K. Boyer Quality of Life Award on Facebook at this link: https://fb.watch/pblFBZc3Uc/.

Find an interview with Charles on the DVD included in Boyertown's second pictorial history book  published in 2009: The Boyertown Area in Pictures: a History of Special People Creating a Special Place.

More News from Boyertown
1 1
I'm interested (1)
I disagree with this
This is unverified