Charles (Casimir) Edwin Karpinski was born July 5, 1931, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the tenth child of Walter Peter and Bernice (Waluszka) Karpinski. With family by his side, he entered Eternal Life on January 24, 2015. He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers (Walter, Stanley and Roman) and six sisters (Helen, Agnes, Ann, Dorothy, Frances and Eleanor).
Known to his family as Casimir or Caszu, Charlie spent his formative years growing up on their farm near Middleville, Michigan. They grew cucumbers (pickles) and harvested blueberries from a bog on the property, taking them to market to sell. They also had other farm animals and a dog named Bing. His mother passed away when he was ten years old; his father, when he was a senior in high school. After his mother’s death, Charlie and his father moved into Grand Rapids where they lived at 450 Second Street with Charlie’s sisters Frances, Ann and their families. He attended St. Mary’s Elementary School, West Catholic Central (top floor of St. Adelbert’s) and transferred to Grand Rapids Catholic Central for his last two years of high school. He graduated from Catholic Central in 1949. After attending Grand Rapids Junior College for two years, Charlie enlisted in the Air Force, where he served 4 years. One of his jobs while in the Air Force was working at the base movie theater as a projectionist. Upon discharge, he resumed his education, graduating from Western Michigan University in 1959. He received his Master’s Degree from Michigan State University. Charlie played football and participated in track and field both in the Air Force and at WMU.
Charlie began his 34-year teaching career at Lansing Eastern High School in 1959, simultaneously beginning a coaching career which spanned 45 years. He taught U.S. History, American Government and Problems of Democracy. While coaching 9th grade football at Dwight Rich Junior High School, one of his players was Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Charlie was head football coach at Bath High School for one year. In 1982, he accepted a teaching/coaching position at Sexton High School as head junior varsity coach. He retired from the classroom in 1993, but continued his assistant athletic director and coaching responsibilities until 2004. His passion was coaching defense. One of his many T-shirts read: “Offense wins games – Defense wins championships.” Over the years, he also coached track, wrestling and baseball.
Throughout the course of his teaching career, Charlie mentored many student teachers – one of them being our now son-in-law, Bill Crane. Charlie was also invited two times to serve as a member of an On-Site North Central Visitation Team, evaluating programs and teachers in the field of history education. Every May would find him volunteering at the Honor Roll Track Meet held at East Lansing High School. He was active in his children’s schools, serving one year as the Post Oak Elementary School carnival chairman. In recognition of his outstanding coaching career, he was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1987. At that time, his record was 127 wins and 36 losses.
At his 60th high school reunion, members of a traveling basketball team from his teenage years decided to meet periodically. Charlie enjoyed this reconnection with the Northwest Gophers, their spouses and attended many of their functions with Wendie.
In the autumn of 2012, the 50-year-old Vagabond 10’x50’ mobile home on their property at Lake Margrethe was removed and a two-story lake house was built on the site. It was one of Charlie’s favorite places to be when he wasn’t on the golf course, in his garden or coaching football. The couple also enjoyed their place at Continental Country Club – a resident-owned community – in Wildwood, Florida and spent parts of winters there for 20 years. Their side yard is the home of Charlie’s two historic Duncan grapefruit trees, planted from seed with the assistance of Wendie’s mother, Marjorie Hardy.
In addition to the love he had for his family, friends and football, Charlie also enjoyed fishing, food, bonfire-building – especially with “chimney logs,” gardening, golfing, hunting, reading, crossword puzzles and watching old movies on TV. He was an astute Bridge player and rarely a loser at poker. Birds benefitted from the many feeders he kept filled. He and a neighbor organized a Chipmunk / Raccoon / Squirrel Relocation Program, gently trapping and releasing these critters far away from their respective gardens. He and Wendie also participated in Western Style Square Dancing. For the past 30 years, he and Chuck, along with an ever-changing group of fellows, spent a week in Canada on a fishing trip – most recently at Happy Day Lodge, near Chapleau.
Charlie was a wonderful father and grandfather, maintaining active involvement in the lives of his children and grandchildren as they grew and pursued their own interests.
He was involved in Asbury United Methodist’s Church’s family camping expeditions as well as coaching some of their basketball teams. He was a Boy Scout Cub Master and also coached their softball teams.
Charlie was a proud member of the American Legion Post 205, a lifetime member of the LSEA, MEA and NEA; Downtown Coaches Club, the Downtown Optimists Club, Lake Margrethe Property Owners Association, MHSAA, Highland Hills Golf Course, and a shareholder and golf association member of Continental Country Club.
Charlie leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Wendie Karene (Hardy) Karpinski; son, Charles Hardy (Katherine Marie Cahn) Karpinski; daughter, Karene Alyse (Karpinski) (William Michael) Crane; and six grandchildren: Cory Michael Daggett; Kyle Alexander, Mitchell William and Aubree Grace Crane; Ethan Charles and Kolby Alexander Karpinski along with many, many nieces and nephews.
A memorial celebration of Charlie’s life will be held Sunday, February 15, 2015, 3:00 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church, 2200 Lake Lansing Road, Lansing, Michigan. Family will receive friends from 1:00-3:00 p.m. prior to the service. Those desiring are asked to consider the American Liver Foundation, 39 Broadway, Suite 2700, New York, New York 10006 as a remembrance of Charlie. The family is also planning a scholar / athlete scholarship fund in Charlie’s memory. Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.EstesLeadley.com
And, he loved blueberries!