Charles Alan Fitch
(Charlie, Chuck, Dad, Pop, Papa and, occasionally, Chuckles, Taz, The Curmudgeon)
A life well lived, A man well loved.
Charlie was born in Natick, MA July 18, 1940 to Anna Marie (Dixon) and Elmer Charles Fitch and passed away quietly, surrounded by the love of his family, February 16, 2017 in Bellevue, WA.
He always said growing up in Natick was a great childhood complete with skating on frozen ponds, the safety of a small New England town of that era, Boy Scouts, Ted Williams and the Red Sox. He graduated from Natick High School in 1958 having competed in football and track & field and participated in the glee club and many other school groups and clubs. He was voted Biggest Appetite and Class Clown by classmates who still love him, today, having shared many reunions in the last 57 years.
In 1959, Charlie and two of his best friends decided to take a road trip across the USA to see what they could see. They landed in Seattle and, except for a brief return to Natick, Charlie stayed - he found home. Ironically, three of his close childhood friends, Fred Walser, Jim Omerso and Tom McGrath and much of his family migrated West and they remained close until his death. It was also in Seattle that Charlie met Suzanne (Susie) Koch on a blind date. It must have gone well because they were married in September, 1962. They proceeded to have four good kids who they raised to be four good adults; Margaret (Sam) Gibson, Anna Arney, Elizabeth (Mihail) Yanev and Mike (Karla) Fitch, three of whom gave him the seven beautiful grandchildren he so dearly loved: Thomas, Taylor and Mason, Sophia and Abigail and Joel and Bridger. He was also a proud Great-Grandfather to Nathan.
As a father, he was always present, engaged and spent so much time with his wife and kids. He always said the best part of his day was coming home to his family and we all felt and appreciate that so much.
In addition to his wife, children and grandchildren, Charlie is survived by his sisters, Deborah (Lanny) Vanderhoek, Dorothy (Bill) LaCouture, sister-in-law Dorothy (brother, Donald, deceased) Fitch and his brother Gary (Krys) Fitch as well as his cousins Natalie Sable and Mary Ward. Charlie also leaves behind a plethora of in-laws, nieces, nephews and countless friends - he never met a stranger.
In the early 1960's he played semi-pro football for the Seattle Ramblers. Then, having worked for others since a young age and deciding that working for "The Man" wasn't for him, Charlie opened his first gas station, American Oil Co., in Kirkland, WA in the mid-1960's. In the early 1970's He moved across the street where he owned and operated Olympic View Service until he retired in 2001. He had a good reputation with his customers, suppliers and competitors and enjoyed long, involved associations with ASA, Kirkland Kiwanis and Kirkland Chamber of Commerce until his death. He was also an Eagle and Moose (we suspect for the bar privileges).
In the mid-1960's, Charlie took up mountain climbing and summited most of the major peaks in the PNW Cascade Range until a knee injury ended his climbing days in the late 1970's. He was an avid duck hunter, hiker and skier, taking his family camping, hiking, and skiing for many years. He was an avid reader and a life-long traveler (our family has the 284,000 slides to prove it), taking his family on many hikes, campouts and trips throughout the US and Canada. Charlie liked the scenic route and took it whenever possible. He always wanted to see it all.
Charlie & Susie enjoyed traveling to either visit family and friends or participate in many trap shoots throughout the Western U.S. He loved all kinds of music from opera to gypsy jazz to country western and everything in between. He could build/make/fix anything and was a phenomenal cook (with the exception of the famous chicken, posole and pepper steak incidents) and generous host. Charlie was famous for his bbq salmon and people clamored for his clam chowder made from fresh dug clams from the Long Beach Peninsula (OK, Susie and Courtnay dug them while he supervised). People also loved his Christmas Eve deep-fried turkey & jo-jo's and his family (especially his grandchildren) loved his Sunday morning pancakes. Charlie loved to laugh and make people laugh. His storytelling was legendary (literally and figuratively). And, as he would have you know, he knew everything and was an excellent driver and supervisor.
The family would like to thank the staff at Swedish Cherry Hill for the care Charlie, himself, so appreciated and the staff at Mission Health Care and Evergreen Hospice for the excellent care and compassion given him in his final weeks.
A celebration of Charlie's life (code for serious party) will take place on July 16, 2017, at Beaver Lake Park Lodge; 2600 244th Ave SE, Sammamish, WA 98075 from 1:30 pm until 4:30 pm. Please bring your best memories, photos, jokes, and good Charlie stories. By then, as he requested, his ashes will have been scattered in the three places he loved most: Othello, Mt. Rainier and the Long Beach Peninsula.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Kirkland Kiwanis Foundation at 917 1st St.; Kirkland, WA 98033 or the charity or your choice.
"...I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain but I'd have had to miss the dance" - Tony Arata
"Please don't bury me down in that cold, cold ground" - John Prine
Our little East Lake Hills neighborhood will not be the same without Charlie. For 45 years he was the best neighbor one could ever ask for, and a dear friend. When I became the sole homeowner of my home, Charlie saved me so many times: plumbing, car, lawnmower, electrical, broken heart - he could fix just about anything. I learned the finer points of clam digging from Charlie, and will miss those beach adventures. I am at peace knowing that he has been reunited with his favorite hat (a story for July 16!). I am just across the fence if you need me, Sue. Hugs to you all.
I was so sorry to read of Charlie's passing. Nick and I treasured all the camping and hiking trips our families had together when the children were growing up. The swimming at Samena, Charlie and his girls, Nick and his boys were memories long ago but not forgotten. The house parties and bridge dinners. All "the boys" from those days in Bellevue have left us. God bless you and your family. Godspeed Charlie!!
Charlie's mountain climbing interest may have pre-dated his arrival in Washington. When we were in Boy Scouts, our troop went on a mountain trip every August. Charlie's father, Al, was one of the organizers of these trips and also one of the cooks. We climbed mountains in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. (They might be considered hills compared to the Cascades). In the summer of 1958, after graduation, Charlie, Bernie Kilroy, John Bouzan and myself undertook to climb Mt. Kathadin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. We parked in the nearest lot to the campground. Loaded our packs and started the 3 mile hike to the campground. When we loaded the packs, we put all of the canned goods in the same pack. Needless to say, that pack got passed around frequently and made the hike seem much longer. I have many memories of Charley. Bill Clark
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