Life Story / Obituary
A man of honor, integrity, and compassion, Charles Elstone was a blessing to those around him. Although he worked tirelessly for everything he had, he also gave whatever he could to others without giving it a second thought. Charles was a devoted family man whose wife and children were the driving force behind his hard work as he took his role as provider to heart. He loved things like camping, listening to the accordion, and watching his favorite hockey team, but these things were only made better when shared with the ones he loved. Life will never be the same without Charles here, but his timeless legacy will be proudly carried on by those who follow him.
The 1920s had been a prosperous decade in America until the crash of the stock market sent our nation and much of the world spiraling down into the depths of the Great Depression in 1929. The days that followed were anything but easy as jobs became scarce and the unemployment rate soared to over 25 percent throughout much of the 1930s. Despite the difficult circumstances around them, a young couple from Detroit, Michigan, was able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they welcomed a baby boy into their hearts and home on August 28, 1930. Charles Rowland was one of four children born to his parents, John and Enid Elstone, and he was raised in the family home alongside his brother, John, and his sisters, Mary and Patricia.
In many ways Charles experienced a typical upbringing. His formative years were difficult ones, but he was able to rise above the circumstances around him to achieve greatness. Always sensitive to others, as a teen Charles carried his sister, Pat, from the lake so that she didn’t have to walk across the gravel. He completed his education through the tenth grade and attended a Catholic high school that was taught by Jesuit priests.
America’s landscape was forever changed after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which launched us into the trenches of WWII for the remainder of the fighting. Although he wanted to serve his country during this time of great need, Charles was too young at the time. He did enlist as soon as he was able, which ended up being just a month after the war ended in 1945. He honorably served as a private in the infantry until being discharged one month prior to the Korean Conflict.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was Charles‘ introduction to the woman with whom he would write a love story that would span more than 65 years. Her name was Patricia Celestine Otlewski, and they met as teens. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Charles and Pat were married when he was 17 and she was 18, although he had to get his father’s permission to marry as he was underage. They exchanged their vows at the Catholic Church of St. Cecilia’s in Detroit, which is where they also met.
Together Charles and Pat were blessed with five children: Charles “Chuck,” Darlene “Dar,” Kenneth “Ken,” Cheryl, and Kevin. He was a dedicated family man whose parenting philosophy was from the “school of hard knocks,” however, his children never doubted that they were deeply loved. To support his family Charles worked as a mason, and during the winter months throughout the 1950s he often had to travel out of state to find sufficient work where the weather was more favorable. Charles missed his family deeply but did what needed to be done while sending checks back home to support his wife and children. Holidays were spent making memories with his close-knit family, and even when times were really tight Charles made sure that each of his children had a Christmas filled with at least a few gifts as Christmas was his favorite holiday. They discovered and fell in love with camping, and as his children were older Charles loved spending time at his son Chuck’s cottage on Tee Lake in Lewiston.
Although he always wanted to work for a utility company, Charles spent his career in the skilled trades industry and earned his journeyman’s license. He was a proud union man who fully supported the rights and safety of the skilled trades. Charles was honored to receive his gold card upon his retirement in recognition of his dedication to his masonry union and successful career.
All who knew Charles would agree that his character was truly inspiring. He was generous beyond words, and it was in this spirit that he provided a woman with three children that he happened upon while riding the Greyhound to and from work with the money needed to afford the simple things that they could not - food, bus fare, and lodging. Charles could always find the best in anyone and offered love in abundance and without condition. His family and friends were well aware of his open door policy and knew that there was always room at his table for an extra person or two. Charles was an outgoing people person who truly found pleasure in the happiness of others.
Over the years Charles enriched his journey in countless ways. When grandchildren came along, spending time with them became a favorite pastime right away, and one of his favorite things was to watch them perform in their marching bands as he had a keen appreciation for music. Charles played the trumpet while he was in school, but the accordion was his favorite instrument, and he loved it that his son Ken took up the instrument. Charles and Pat enjoyed dancing when his sons, Ken and Kevin, played gigs with their bands. He loved listening to music from Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and marches from John Phillip Sousa. Charles loved the Red Wings and has even been called a fanatic as he grew older, and when it came to his favorite television show it was the classic comedy, All in the Family.
Charles Elstone accomplished so much of which to be proud, yet he was a humble man whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in his family that grew to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren he treasured. Because of his unending love and support coupled with his unwavering strength, he has been described as the cornerstone of his family. Charles was a man of few words, but he was very wise as he was “a graduate of the school of hard knocks and large disappointments.” He was known to let off some steam at times, but his love and concern for those around him was easy to see. Charles will be deeply missed and forever remembered.
Charles Elstone, of Livonia, died on April 17, 2014. Charles’ family includes his five children, Charles (Connie) Elstone, Darlene (Raymond) Gronevelt, Kenneth (Cathleen) Elstone, Cheryl (Richard) Peters, and Kevin (Cristi) Elstone; 16 grandchildren, Bradley, Todd, Jason, Brett, Scott, Zack, Kelli, Traci, Alyssa, Kyle, Chuck “CJ”, Kate, Ricky, Cory, Stacy, Brian; great-grandchildren, Ella, Colton; sister, Patricia “Pat” Nolta. Family will receive friends Monday 2-9 p.m. at Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile Road (btn Merriman and Middlebelt) where a funeral service will be held Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Interment at Parkview Memorial Cemetery. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a memory.