Charles James Werner
March 6, 1944 – Feb. 6, 2020
Though nearly 76 years separate the two dates, it’s the hyphenated space that tells the story of Charles, Chuck, Chuckie, Charlie and Humphrey. All the names refer to the same guy who traveled through life on his own terms. Raised in Medford by his late parents, James and Fern Amo Werner, Chuck was second of seven that included, Sally (James Hauser), Suzanne (Jeffrey Zircher), Barbara (Terry Beachler), Deborah (Rolin Hofmann), Mary (Dale Mokry) and James Jr.
As a kid, instilled with the family work ethic, he attached a cage-like rig to his bike and pedaled forth every morning no matter the weather to deliver newspapers just like the bike-riding comic book character Humphrey Pennyworth, Joe Palooka’s best friend. Within days a neighbor Conrad Bormann started calling him “Humphrey” and the moniker stuck. In grammar school, besides the 3 Rs, he took piano lessons and learned enough Latin to make the altar boy squad. When he fainted from the incense during a service his mother came running up the aisle uttering, “That’s my Chuckie.” Monsignor Reuter was speechless, Chuckie recovered to serve another day.
At Medford High School, history and geography rated as favorite classes thanks to Ray Ammentorp, a teacher who also coached the sport that laid claim to Humphrey as a right tackle all four years. In 1962, diploma in hand he headed to the U.S. Air Force (AF) recruiting office joined by hometown buddies Gordie Allar, Chuck Doriot, Bob Suits, Tom Cullen and Jeff Heglund. Next stop Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas. With basic training under his belt, Charlie opted for specialized training in aircraft hydraulics and spent the remainder of his Air Force career in Lincoln, Neb., making lifelong friends. Post U.S. Air Force, Northwest Airlines (NWA) recruiter, Tony Ettel, signed him on to the Red Tail payroll and for the next 37 years Charlie made NWA his job of choice as a mechanic and DC-10 maintenance control specialist traveling the world adding names to his list of Facebook friends before retiring in 2003 at his home in Burnsville, Minn. Throughout his AF and NWA years, he credited his mechanical skills to a Christmas gift erector set from his dad who also gave two year old Chuckie his first taste of air travel in a Piper Cub. In retirement, when not hitting the long ball during serious annual Packer/Viking competitions, his other hobbies of woodworking, cooking, shopping and socializing occupied his time, not necessarily in that order.
In December 1974 Charles Werner and Lana Groess made their union official and kept that commitment until Lana’s death in 2011. Throughout their years together they provided lodging for an array of pets who could always count on a nurturing environment and gourmet treats. In the end it was only Bozo the FatCat who rated best-buddy status until he too slipped away in 2017.
Besides his siblings and five brothers-in-law, Chuck is also survived by fourteen nieces and nephews and his godson, Brandon Prouty.
The Werner family thanks the staff of Edenbrook Edina and of Moments Hospice for the care they provided. Also thanks to Charlie’s friends for their many visits with him at Fairview Ridges and Edenbrook.
Interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery will be held in June along with a celebration of life. In the meantime, when you have an occasion to think of Charlie, honor his memory with a random act of kindness.
Paid Obituary 85795