The Leaflet at Charlie's Memorial Service


A Memorial Service
to Celebrate the Life of
Charles Ward Disney
December 3, 1941 - April 16, 2014

Minneapolis Friends meeting
“Out beyond ideas of
wrong-doing and right-doing
There is a field
I’ll meet you there
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about”

“My pilgrimage of repeated return to the sea will not end so long as I live ... Along the way, like everyone else, I must bear my burdens. But I do not intend to bear them graciously, nor in silence. I will take my sadness and as I can I will make it sing. In this way when others hear my song, they may resonate and respond out of the depths of their own feelings.

We will call out to each other in the darkness of the Great Forest, so that we may not be lost to one another. Then, like the innocent Forest People, for a moment we will live in a world created by a God so benevolent that, when there is trouble, we will know that [he/she] must be asleep ... just when life is heaviest with pain and anguish, that is the time when we will dance and sing together to waken the sleeping God of our own lost hope.”

from If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him! (1972) by Sheldon Kopp


Piano Prelude: Nancy Lichtenstein

An instrumental jazz arrangement of There is a Balm in Gilead

Welcome: Pat Jones, Director of Ministry

The Quaker memorial service will begin with some music, followed by two speeches.

The longer portion of the service will be for a time of silent reflection and to celebrate Charlie’s life by anyone present.

A period of silent reflection, remembering Charlie and sharing.

The service closes with handshakes.

After the service, guests are invited to enjoy refreshments and conversation with friends and family, and to see photographs and other material related to Charlie’s life is exhibited in the hall.

If you would like to make a donation in Charlie’s name, donations can be made to Life Source (an organ donation organization) or to AVP, the Alternative to Violence Project, which gives workshops in the community and prisons to help people learn alternative ways of dealing with anger and conflict.

There is information about these worthwhile organizations in the front hall.

Charles Ward Disney
1941 - 2014

He was known as Charlie, Twinkletoes, and Dis. Charlie was born on December 3rd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Four days after Charlie’s birth, America entered World War II. He was the second child of his parents, Grace, age 33, and Don Disney, age 49. Their first baby died during delivery. Don taught mechanical drawing at Boy’s Vocational High School in Minneapolis. During the way, he also worked part time at an ammunitions plant in the Twin Cities. Earlier Grace had been a secretary at the Minnesota Department of Health in Saint Paul. Having lost their first baby, I think Charlie was especially cherished by his parents. There are quite a lot of photographs of Charlie during his first year.

Thirteen months after Charlie’s birth, his sister, Susie, was born. Charlie grew up in an attractive neighborhood with many beautiful, tall, elm trees shading the streets. it is about a fifteen minutes walk from Minneapolis Friends Meeting. His father, Don, planted a victory garden in the backyard of the house. There was - a pear tree, two apple trees, a beautiful, tall, catalpa tree, a trellis of grapes and vegetables. Don also collected honey from his beehives located elsewhere. In the house, there were jars labeled Disney’s honey. Charlie and Susie had fun climbing up into the catalpa tree and sitting on a small platform among white and purple orchid-like flowers, large, green, heart shaped leaves, and long, brown seedpods.

Charlie played baseball with friends in the street in front of the house and touch football in a big vacant lot across the street from his house. After dinner, Charlie and Susie and other neighborhood kids often played kick the can and other games down the street near a lamp post until it got dark and their mother called them to come home.

At 58, Charlie’s father suddenly died of a heart attack in the driveway after shoveling snow. Charlie, who was nine, and Susie, who was eight, were playing in the snow nearby. I think Charlie first saw that something was wrong with daddy. He tried to wake him up but couldn’t, so he went into the house to get mommy’s help. Charlie and Susie weren’t taken to their father’s funeral. Family friends took them to see a funny movie, Francis the Talking Mule. About one year before their father’s death, their mother had breast cancer and an operation. The death of their father dramatically changed their lives. Grace, their mother, went back to work full time as the secretary to the principal of the high school, which they later attended.

From the beginning of elementary school, Charlie had difficulty learning how to read. Although he had private tutoring for reading, he repeated third grade. Charlie loved sports and he was very good at various sports. He played ice hockey in the park with his friends and he practiced basketball in his driveway. Perhaps from about the age of twelve Charlie worked part time after school and during summers at various jobs. After high school, Charlie went to Dunwoody Institute and studied highway surveying. He did this kind of work for a while and then became a stock broker at Dain, Kalman and Quail in Minneapolis.

In 1968, Charlie married Connie Drashil. Charlie’s mother died in 1969, She was 61. Charlie was 27 and Susie was 26. It was hard for them to loose their mother so early. There were no other relatives in the Twin Cities, with whom they were close.

Charlie developed a passion for table tennis and founded Magoo’s Table Tennis Club, which would later become Disney’s. Charlie and his very close friend, Don Larson, were partners in these table tennis clubs for over two decades. Charlie was 10 time Minnesota’s state champion in table tennis and was named to the Minnesota Table Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994 for achievements as a player, coach, and promoter of Minnesota table tennis. Charlie formed long lasting friendships with many of these table tennis players and their families.

Later, Charlie bought rental property in Minneapolis. He became the Executive Director of the Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee, which at one time consisted of about 500 landlords. The meetings of this committee were broadcast on a local cable TV station. Charlie also led Minneapolis Crack Tours in the inner city neighborhood of Phillips. In 1997 and 1998, these tours exposed drug dealers openly selling drugs in the streets of this area. Minneapolis City Council members, Minnesota House of Representatives members, judges, commissioners, a state senator, and Jim Ramstad, a member of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress went on these Minneapolis Crack Tours. After going on a tour, Jim Ramstad wrote Charlie thanking him for the tour. He also wrote to Governor Arne Carlson and suggested to him to take the tour so that he could see first hand how much crime there was in the area. Jim recommended that there be improvements in government policy and how criminals are dealt with in Minneapolis.

Charlie received a Citizens Choice Award from Arnie Carlson for “special recognition for contributing to the improved safety of the Twin Cities Metro Area through commendable citizen leadership.”

Charlie and Connie got a divorce. Charlie had a long term relationship with Jean English. They separated, but they were still good friends when Charlie passed away. Later, Charlie married Sharon Johnson, but they also divorced. Charlie had no children. He deeply loved his dog, Alex, a brown Labrador. Later in life he became an ardent and competitive bridge player.

After years of heart disease, Charlie had a heart transplant in 2009. At age 72, Charlie was found dead in his winter home in Rio Verde, Arizona. He died of natural causes. He is survived by his sister, Susie, her husband, Hideo, and their son, Dan. I want to thank the many people, who sent emails expressing their sadness about Charlie dying so suddenly and their affection for him.

Written by Susie Kanemitsu

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