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Charlene suddenly and unexpectantly passed away while on her dream trip to the south pacific.
Born August 17, 1946, in Chicago, IL, she transitioned to meet her Lord and Savior April 2, 2023, in Tahiti.
She is survived by her husband John; children William Wolfrum and Julie Fisher; grandchildren Mason, Ethan, Adam, Austin, Nigel, Tanner, and Vanessa. One husband and her parents preceded her in death.
Three celebration of life gatherings were held to honor and remember Char (she disliked funerals). The first was on May 19th, in Denver/Centennial, CO. The second in Ft Worth/Arlington, Texas, on May 28th. The final gathering was held at her home church in Sun City on the 16th of June.
Char grew up in Chicago and attended Thomas Edison Elementary school. By the time of her 8th grade “graduation” in 1960, the school newsletter documented her future plans and career choice to become a nurse. After graduating from St Patrick’s Academy (High School - Des Plains, IL) in 1964, it took 22 years before she received her Nursing degree in Chicago. She did not lose sight of her desire to be in the people helping professions and as a non-traditional student, Char helped put herself through college by driving a school bus. Her professional nursing experience was entirely in the state of Texas serving at a variety of locations and positions, though primarily in surgery and OB. She was particularly proud of having delivered 51 babies when the doctors were “unavailable” or absent at that moment and could not be present at the time of the birth.
Char loved to travel. It began when she was a child. Her parents made multiple trips to California to visit with extended family who lived there. As an adult, she spent one year each in both Taichung, Taiwan and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her love of cruising started with her previous husband and continued with her daughter, friends, and John. Altogether she took at least 17 cruises. Other trips included family times in Florida and Mexico, travels throughout many states in the US, as well as a mission excursion to Cambodia. She enjoyed visiting many countries around the world in addition to SE Asia. Some of these included: New Zealand, Canada, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Turkey, multiple Caribbean countries, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
In retirement Char picked up quilting with a passion. It was simultaneously both an enjoyable and frustrating endeavor for her. Sometimes she lacked patience while engaged in the quilting process. However, her house was decorated with her completed quilt works. She produced numerous quilts of various sizes, and when finished, they were given away to family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and Hospice. Char enjoyed traveling to nearly all of the quilt/fabric stores in CO, as well as many other fabric stores/quilt outlets as she traversed throughout the US states, primarily in the mid-west and far west, ranging from Pennsylvania, to Texas, to Alaska and Hawaii. Due to the sheer volume, she would often mail her new finds/purchases to her home. For Char, finding a quilt store in another country was especially exciting and enjoyable. She also journeyed to engage in several quilt retreats with friends and making new friends. Additionally, she also applied her artistic skills toward crocheting, knitting, and sewing.
Char was a dancer from an early age. Her first performance, at nearly five (5) years of age, was on June 3, 1951, with the Lenore Dance Studio. She was one of 14 “Cuties in Pink” showing their skills. She also trained with the Boris Dancing Studio and demonstrated her abilities again in June of 1953, in a “Doll Dance” and “Baby Ballerinas.” Char showed her versatility by picking up tap dance along the way. She often danced with her dad on social occasions. Another highlight of her youth was while in high school, she and a boy she knew placed 2nd in Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Chicago dance off. Her final stage performance was in Cambodia in 2013. As an adult she continued to dance while on the many ships as she cruised, as well as in multiple other venues (ballrooms, streets, living rooms, concerts, parking lots, amphitheaters, stores, etc.) wherever she lived/traveled, whenever the appropriate music was playing. While not perceived as particularly “athletic,” after her move to CO (in retirement) Char did participate in hiking, biking, snow shoeing, working out at the rec centers (especially the walking pool), riding her adult trike with neighbors, walking/running in 5/10 K races (in CO, AZ, and IL). She completed one 10K in an hour and 47 minutes at 66 years of age.
At times Char was very child-like, especially when she observed the newly born or the very young. She would scream out, “baaaaaaybeeees!” It mattered not the species that her God had created, she was thrilled when she observed them and would articulate about it: lopies (pronghorn antelope), olives (quail), bunbuns (rabbits), puppies, cows, etc. She was always excited about that early dimension of life, “Baaaaaaybeeees!”
Char enjoyed life and tried to make the most of every opportunity. That was a trait that was observed by many of those who knew her, especially in the last few years of her life. Sadly, there were too many health issues she faced that seemed to come and go throughout her stay on earth. After every period of “recovery” she would resume traveling and the on-the-go lifestyle. She was described by others as a “light, a ray of sunshine. Her smile was constant.” “Char was one special lady.” “She was a loving and caring person.” “Char was so fun and full of life and cared so much for others.” “Charlene brought much joy to this world and now she’s experiencing ultimate joy in His presence.” Char departed this world “doing what she loved, and heaven will be sweeter with her there. It only took a minute in her presence to discover what an incredible woman she was. She touched us with her spirit, her love and sweetness, and her joy.” “She was full of life and was always looking for the fun in life. She told people about the importance of Jesus in her life.” “Can’t believe that our oh-so-lively Charlene is gone. I have so many fun and crazy memories with her.” “A beautiful soul.” “A great friend to me after we moved here.” “I have no doubt she is dancing in heaven.” “Our silver lining is thinking of Char with Jesus, laughing, smiling, and singing His praises.”
Char was generous to her friends and those in need. She was on the “go” so much that she picked up the nickname of “Hummingbird.” She was supportive of and engaged with a variety of charitable groups such as: hospice, heart walk participation in both AZ & CA, and Samaritans Purse. The Bunco groups in CO & AZ were yet another social opportunity she delighted in. Char was a behind the scenes part of the community playhouse in CO. She enjoyed the 60’s dance club gatherings, the free concerts, and the programs offered in the communities in which she lived. Char enjoyed hosting friends and neighbors for a meal or happy hour. She also had a Sicilian temper that would occasionally evidence itself, yet she was quick to be forgiving.
Char was a member of First Christian Church of Sun City. She enjoyed singing and did so in the church choirs where she was a member. Her active participation in the churches she attended also included working at greeting stations, prayer teams, hosting Bible study groups in her homes, teaching Sunday school, working in a food bank, attending small group Bible studies, as well as multiple service projects including post flood relief and a three-week mission trip to Cambodia where she lead Bible lessons and taught sewing on a treadle machine in the jungle. She also liked gardening but often did not have the patience to see some of her endeavors through to satisfactory completion. For her, it was the process, the active procedure, not necessarily the end results.
In her later years Char truly believed and lived that “Every good and perfect gift comes from God above.” “She is missed. Now, may she rest in peace in the presence of her God. Gone from our sight, but never from our hearts.” It’s been said, “Heaven is better than you imagine and sooner than you think.” She discovered how true that is. Death does not have the final word for those who are in Christ Jesus.