Cover photo for Charlie Wise's Obituary
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Charlie Wise

February 13, 1928 — August 19, 2022

Charlie Wise

Charles Daniel Wise was born February 13, 1928 in Coryell City, Texas, and lived on earth until August 19, 2022, when he died in Gatesville, Texas, from the impacts of pancreatic cancer. 

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, August 26, 2022 at Trinity Baptist Church, 1506 W. Main St., Gatesville, with Rev. Tim Crosby and Rev. James Pool officiating. Interment will follow at Restland Cemetery in Gatesville.  The family will receive visitors from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, August 25th at Scott’s Funeral Home, 2425 E. Main St., Gatesville.

Charles attended a four-room school house in Arnett.  His earliest job was caddying at Gatesville Golf Course where his grandfather, Daniel Webster Davis, was caretaker along with his wife Lula Mae Davis. He completed 8th grade at West Avenue Junior High in Waco, and delivered prescriptions for the drug store then located at N. 15th & Colcord.  He dropped out of school and moved to Fort Worth to help support his father by working at Carshon’s Meat Market and Deli. 

Two days after turning 17 years old, Charles enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving seven years on supply/personnel ships in the Pacific Ocean and during the invasion of Korea.  He noticed that a few differences between himself and the Naval officers were education and social graces, and requested that his mother send him a dictionary and book on etiquette.  As an eye witness to atomic bomb tests in the Bikini Islands, he noted, “Everybody was scared and apprehensive.  We were issued special sunglasses to wear during the test.  The test area was filled with abandoned boats captured from the war enemies.  Later we boarded those ships with Geiger counters to assess various items placed there as experiments for testing the effects of radiation.”  Observing the traumatic impact of the Korean invasion as the front-line soldiers rotated back through his ship stationed in the port, Charles took account of his life and began to consider what changes needed to take place. 

Charles finished his GED, enrolled in 1951 at Baylor University through the G.I. Bill and on academic probation, and received a B.A. in Business with minors in English, Psychology and Speech.  Baylor was a meaningful part of his life.   He accepted Jesus Christ as his savior during his college years.  “Becoming a Christian was like coming out of a long dark tunnel into the sunlight.  I woke up the next morning with hope for the first time in my life, filled with gratitude.”  He and Mary Alice met three months later in Geology class.  “I thought she was one of the prettiest girls I had ever met. But even more so I saw in her the love and happiness from knowing Jesus.”  He served in student government and as student body president.  As an alumnus he enjoyed years of service on the Development Council, Board of Regents, and Diana R. Garland School of Social Work’s Board of Advocates.  He learned a lot from Baylor about raising donations back in the early days: “When the need is money let that need be known to donors, and proceed cautiously with offers of portraits, oil leases, antiques, etc. that may have other hidden contingencies.”  Baylor sports events led to many fun outings with family and friends no matter the outcome of the score.  Charles and Mary Alice were honored with the Founders Medal from Baylor in 2011. 

Charles contemplated vocations in ministry, politics or business, and he and Mary Alice decided the most effective way for them to serve was as Christian citizens wherever they lived.  After a brief stop in Houston, his first major job after Baylor was on the sales management team of Upjohn Pharmaceutical where he and the family were based out of San Antonio, Temple, and Fort Worth.  His rookie sales year included introducing an innovative-at-the-time insulin tablet and building relationships with the Hispanic doctors of the San Antonio area.  He also taught the Dale Carnegie course.  For the duration of his life, he put into practice one of Carnegie’s quotes: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” because it embodied respect for and acceptance of others. 

1968 brought several changes including moving to his hometown area of Gatesville and joining the leadership of Medical Plastics Laboratory (later bought out by Laerdal), a company that produces health education models.  This move was a bit of a full circle for Charlie as MPL was started by Drs. Wendall and Elworth Lowrey (along with Dr. Tom Williams and Price Neeley) and it was their father, the elder Dr. Lowrey, who had given the original land for the golf course where Charlie had first worked.  Though business trips allowed Charlie and Mary to visit many places around the globe, the more satisfying part of the work at MPL was engaging with the employee team to provide excellent products and create jobs to highlight the gifts and skills of those choosing to live in Gatesville.  He enjoyed serving in the community through the Lions Club, Coryell Memorial Hospital and Foundation boards, Gatesville Chamber of Commerce, and Gatesville ISD school board.  He was honored as “Gatesville Citizen of the Year”, “Lion of the Year”, and “Humanitarian of the Year – Gatesville Black History Awards”.  

Being a part of the body of Christ as expressed through the local church was an essential part of Charlie’s faith development and practice:  learning about hospitality and Rotel cheese dip from the Leuschner sisters’ Sunday night fellowships at Seventh and James Baptist (Waco) during the Baylor years; finding life-long community with the “Unfamily” and becoming a deacon at Manor Baptist (San Antonio); teaching and serving at Memorial Baptist (Temple), University Baptist (Ft Worth), and First Baptist (Gatesville).  An especially meaningful part of Charlie’s life was being involved in Trinity Baptist Church (Gatesville) from the beginning (1976) to present.  Trinity’s motto is “a church that cares” and Charlie experienced the mutual love of caring relationships through bus ministry, prison ministry, Sunday School, and service in the Gatesville area.

Favorite memories include: “closing the office” (especially during retirement) each week to go with Mary Alice on little day trips to eat a meal, see a movie, run errands or visit with family/friends; train/road trips and supportive discussions with Charles Ross; vacations at Trapp Family Lodge; hiking in Vermont with Kathy and friends; hymn singing at gatherings of family/friends; early morning jogging/walking from age 43 to 93; early Sunday mornings with the bus team; and personal bible study and his love for preparing to teach weekly Sunday School.

Generosity was a theme observed in Charlie’s life.  He never forgot what it was like to grow up with very little in terms of material possessions.  He recognized that “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17) and believed that stewardship and generosity are vital parts of the Christian faith.  Charlie looked for opportunities to live out James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  He took to heart this challenge and calling to engage personally over and above monetary giving: “You say you love the poor, but do you know their names?”

“Since I became an adult, I thought that execution was a correct outcome for a murderer.  But my wife had started volunteering at death row for women in Gatesville in the 1980’s, and I joined her after my retirement from MPL in 1997.  We sat around the table with these inmates, studying the bible, singing praise songs, holding hands for prayer.  These were people who had done horrible crimes.  Many of them were executed, and we had the sobering privilege of sitting with Frances Newton in Huntsville in the hours before her execution.  My attitude about the death penalty completely changed.  As I looked around the table, God impressed on me that death row was not necessary.  These were not mean, evil people and often were there because of the impact of poverty, early life trauma and little access to adequate legal counsel.  The Innocence Project has many helpful statistics regarding people who are unfairly sentenced.  In getting to know these ladies and other inmates we also learned how important family visits are to inmate rehabilitation and reduced recidivism.  Along with numerous churches and individuals in our area, we helped with and got to witness the miracles of the formation of Central Texas Hospitality House based on Matthew 25:31-40.  It has been one of the greatest joys of our lives to help offer a space for low-income families to stay for free when they travel long distances to visit their loved ones in prison.  Before CTHH existed, it was common for some of the folks to sleep in their vehicles in a park on the side of the road due to lack of funds for a hotel room.  Often these visitors have tears of joy and gratitude because of the peace of Christ they feel when they walk in the doors, and they are treated with compassion as individuals.”

“Marriage is a ‘60-60’ partnership – giving deference to each other’s interests or extending grace to each other.  I’ve been given far too much credit for any recognitions in my life. None would have been possible without the counsel and love from my beloved wife Mary.  We regarded everything as a team.  She discipled me in my early faith in Christ as I did not grow up in that environment.  Some of my recommendations for a healthy marriage are: Pray daily with your spouse.  Spend quality time each day with your family around the dinner table or elsewhere, where you listen to them and they listen to you.”  

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Charles is preceded in death by his mother Ruth Davis Williams, father William Charley Wise, beloved step-father Esteen Williams, sisters Bess Ernst and Wanda Johnson Forbis, aunt Earlene Pennington, and uncle Ralph Wise. 

He is survived by his wife Mary Alice Smith Wise, son Charles Ross Wise, daughter Mary Kathryn “Kathy” Wise, nephews Berry Johnson and wife Shirley, Billy Charles Johnson and wife Bambi, Bob Smith, Fred Smith and wife Holly, niece Maria McDonald and husband Brian, numerous great- and great-great- nephews and nieces, and many dear friends who are “adopted” and loved as family.  Our family has extended far beyond the boundaries of biology.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are appreciated to Central Texas Hospitality House, P.O. Box 124, Gatesville, TX 76528 or Trinity Baptist Church, 1506 W. Main Street, Gatesville, TX 76528.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Charlie Wise, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, August 26, 2022

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