Charles “Chuck/Charlie” Jackson, age 55, of Pataskala passed away unexpectedly in June. He was born in West Virginia to the late Barbara and Charles Jackson, Sr. His father was in the military, so the family moved around a bit before settling in Grafton, where he and his one year older brother, Sam, were raised by his late grandparents, Gertrude and Kenneth Jackson, Sr.
Little Charlie (as his family knew him) was a daredevil with a shocking lack of foresight—even for a kid. In his capacity as big brother Sam was happy to capitalize on that. He made suggestions that he knew Charlie would immediately act on such as: “Go spit on that wasp nest,” or “Go spit on that lightbulb,” or “Stick this peanut up your nose,” (a move his son would echo years later). Usually, the resulting fallout ended in a fight, and usually his big brother won—until Charlie’s growth spurt at age seven. The suggestions dropped off considerably at that point.
Even without suggestions, Charlie found plenty of stupid interesting things to do. At any given moment, you might see him riding down a steep mountainside on a flattened cardboard box, or playing tag as he jumped from rock to rock on the side of a cliff. He didn't know how to swim, but that didn't stop him from gleefully diving into random bodies of water. He and his brother liked to use their bb guns to shoot little plastic action figures out of each other’s hands; whoever wussed out first was the loser. They also like to watch Bruce Lee movies and re-enact them all over the house—much to their grandmother’s dismay. Thus was born his life-long love of martial arts.
Somehow, Chuck (as he was known to the rest of the world) survived his childhood, graduated from high school, and went on to college where he earned a degree in Computer Information Systems (which is a fancy way of saying that he’s the guy you call when kicking your computer doesn’t fix it).
He joined the Army because his family needed the enlistment bonus, but once there he decided to make the military his profession, figuring “Might as well, I’m already here.” He determined that one college degree was not sufficient, so the Army and Fannie Mae helped him earn degree number two: a BS in Military History (which would obviously prove useful when the aforementioned computers rose up and took over).
In the Army, Chuck served in the Airborne Combat Engineer Battalion where he got to build things, blow them up, and build them again; and jump out of planes and sustain lots of life-long injuries (although that probably wasn’t the intended objective). For the rest of his civilian life it was pretty near impossible to get him on a plane—despite assurances that he would not have to jump out of it.
During Chuck’s military service, which included the Reserve and National Guard (and a bewildering array of discharges and re-enlistments), he traveled all over the U.S., and even overseas to Honduras and Panama. He really enjoyed his time in Panama because he got to go snorkeling around the reefs; he said the water was crystal clear and the sunsets were beautiful. He wanted to go back someday with his wife, but Life intervened for a couple of decades, then Death intervened, and that was that.
When he was stationed at Fort Knox, he met his future wife/soulmate/co-conspirator, Tammy, while he was visiting friends in Ohio. This story might sound familiar because Chuck loved to tell it, and he would share it with anyone who had a functioning set of ears and stood still long enough. For everyone else, here is the pared down CliffsNotes version:
Boy in the Army meets Girl at the Pet Store.
Boy drives from Kentucky to Ohio every chance he gets to see Girl—but not actually speak to her.
Boy buys pet supplies for non-existent pets as an excuse to be around her—but not actually speak to her.
Boy moves to Ohio, buys pets to buy pet supplies for, but still can’t get up the nerve to speak to her.
Boy’s friends get fed up, call her, shove the phone in his face, and make him finally speak to her
(with his mouth full of pizza).
Three months later they got engaged because each could see in the other the person who would become the center of their universe. Their 25th wedding anniversary would have been next week.
His wife was attending college when they started dating, which made Chuck realize that his last degree was already two years old—time to get a new one. Degree number three was in Electrical Engineering Technology. (Someone has to maintain our computer overlords.)
Chase piles and Cheesie Poofs
Shortly before the turn of the century, their son Chase was born, and he was perfect in every way. Two years later, their son Kaelin was born, and—lo and behold—he too was perfect in every way. Deciding not to push their luck they stopped there.
Even as toddlers there were telltale signs that the boys were going to take after their dad—thus outnumbering their mom 3:1. (She never stood a chance.) One of Chuck’s wonderful genetic gifts to his children was 'Piling.’ Chuck made piles of things around the house, such as paperwork he didn’t want to deal with, tools he didn’t want to put away, or wonderful broken things he found that he liked to bring home. When Chase was two years old, he started making piles too, but much grander in scale than Daddy’s were. Chase would grab everything in the vicinity and put it in one huge pile: toys, shoes, clothes, tools, pillows—even the cat when she would let him. He soon discovered that it was even more fun to build piles on top of Daddy when Daddy watched TV or fell asleep on the floor. Before long, Chuck's daredevil genes kicked in, and Chase started standing on furniture and diving headlong into his piles; the piles containing Daddy made funny noises when he did that.
Chuck’s protective instincts surfaced in Kaelin when he was only one year old. Kaelin, Chase and Mommy were at the doctor’s office for Chase’s annual checkup, and everything was fine until it was time for Chase’s shot. Chase was terrified of needles, so much crying ensued. The doctor and Mommy tried to soothe him while one-year-old Kaelin hid behind Mommy’s chair. Eventually, Chase got his shot and the doctor left the room. As soon as the door closed, Kaelin stepped out from behind the chair, raised his tiny fist, shook it at the door, and said, “Beat!” (That doctor sure is lucky she didn’t come back.)
He also stuck a bead up his nose in the second grade; possibly in tribute to his father.
Over the years, Chuck had a variety of different jobs: salesperson, security guard, Assistant Manager of an egg farm (not as glamorous as it sounds), Repair Specialist of Silhouette Restoration (repairing mannequins), and so on. Eventually, he started putting those degrees of his to work, and for the past 20 years he was an engineer at ABB.
Just to be on the safe side, though, he went back to school for one more degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering. (School loans? pfft. Defer! Defer!)
Chuck continued practicing martial arts throughout his life. As with his other interests, he wanted to know everything about everything, so he studied several disciplines before finding his calling in Ninjutsu.
An expert was consulted for this next bit, and he graciously provided the following information (to prevent the clueless mangling that would have otherwise ensued):
Chuck trained for many years with An-shu Stephen Kinryu-Jien Hayes and Shane Raitoshi Stevens. So many times he made the drive to the Dayton Quest Center for private lessons with his mentors. He specialized and earned the very rare accomplishment diplomas in Gyokko Ryu ninja unarmed combat. He also studied in private lessons the ninja kuji no ho “nine powers of the ninja” techniques of self actualization, as well as An-shu Rumiko Hayes’ Ryu Tai ninja yoga. He earned the Third Degree Black Belt in modern To-Shin Do self-protection, and was awarded the bu-go warrior name of Yotoshi, “Warrior of the blade of sunshine”. An-shu Hayes comments, “Our dojo has lost a truly beautiful warrior spirit. Chuck Yotoshi always warmed my heart with his unstoppable dedication to personal growth through the warrior arts. An-shu Rumiko and I miss his brightness oh so much.’
Chuck was the lead instructor at a friend’s dojo for several years before he opened one of his own: Pataskala Martial Arts Academy. The dojo was his baby; he loved teaching and he loved his students. However, babies are expensive and don’t pay the bills, so he was an engineer by day and a ninja in the evenings and on weekends. No matter how tired he was or how much pain he was in (thank you, Army), he was always excited about going to the dojo.
Chuck treasured the time he spent there with his sons. Chase and Kaelin started training when they were three years old. (Tiny ninjas running around in their tiny gis are the most adorable thing ever.) For years, the three of them trained together and the boys rose through the ranks to earn Black Belts of their own. As they progressed, they became coaches and helped their dad teach classes. Chuck said the dojo would not have been possible without them. He was very, very proud of his boys (and rightly so).
Chuck loved B-movies, particularly the old horror classics, so he learned how to create his own monsters and props. (Coming home to find entrails in the sink and dismembered heads in the living room was just a typical Tuesday at chez Jackson.) He started doing freelance makeup and effects for a few indie films (like Biker Warrior Babe Vs the Zombie Babies From Hell ...he may not have wanted anyone to know that.)
After a few years of freelancing, Chuck opened his own special effects studio. He created all sorts of wide-awake nightmares and oddities for his clients: werewolves, zombies, killer chipmunks, sasquatches, dismembered body parts, and even a giant brontosaurus ridden by tiny raptors wielding tiny weapons of mass destruction (which currently resides in the basement).
His inherent (and often weird) sense of humor permeated everything he did. He genuinely cared about people (but if he considered someone a ‘knucklehead’ he was not shy about letting them know). He often served as sounding board, sympathetic ear, and shoulder to cry on for whoever needed it. He offered free women’s self-defense classes at the dojo, as well as outreach classes at The Well, a drop-in center for abused women run by the Central Ohio Reach and Restore Coalition. He was committed to the fight against human trafficking, and had recently been taking online classes so he could help raise public awareness and possibly start a local chapter or support group.
As a husband and father, Chuck was amazing, dedicated, patient, funny, honorable, loving, loyal, protective, and every other positive adjective that you can think of. He had seemingly endless reserves of strength. He attended every Parent’s Night, band concert, school play, soccer, softball, basketball and football game that he possibly could. Any poor soul who made the mistake of visiting Chuck at home would be snatched off the street and dragged through the house on a tour of his wife’s artwork (despite her complete mortification...or possibly because of it). He didn’t have a lot of free time (the man had four jobs!), but the time he did have was spent with his family. He even voluntarily went shopping with his wife—something a sensible person would avoid at all costs because she always took FOR-EV-ER.
Everything Chuck did was for his family, who always came first—no matter what.
Survivors: Chuck is survived by everyone reading this, and you already know who you are—you don’t need me to tell you. However, in keeping with the Obituary Rules of Etiquette (yes, that is a thing):
Chuck is survived by his beloved wife Tammy; their two long-suffering sons who had to put up with them Chase and Kaelin; parents-in-law Bryan and Mary; siblings Craig “Sam,” Holly, Bill and wife Cindy; brother-in-law Bob; uncles Kenneth “Jack” and wife Sue, Richard “Joe” and wife Myrna Jean, Fred and wife Faye; aunts Ramona “Tishie,” Sandra, Lila, Bonny, Linda and husband Don; cousins Missy, Debbie, Kathy, Trace; special friends Pam Gordon, Dr. Robert "Doc" Polite; oodles of family and friends, and his cherished cat Caliope (who is a rotten little monster).
Cheese in a Can
In the interest of keeping our friends and loved ones safe, a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Flowers and donations are not necessary (though there are a couple of school loans...).
You can honor Chuck by just buying some cheese-in-a-can and eating it while watching a Guillermo del Toro movie as you take a bubble bath with your pet possum in New Zealand.
But, if nitrogen powered strings of gelatinous goo and wet marsupials just aren’t your thing, then donations to organizations like Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (Cast), Central Ohio Reach and Restore Coalition (CORRC), Polaris, or an organization of your choosing, would also be a great way to honor Chuck.
Chuck's final wish was to be stuffed and put on the couch, but the funeral home was oddly resistant to that idea, so we went with his second choice: being cremated. And put on the couch. In keeping with his wishes that is where his urn currently resides; at least for the time being. For those of you who may find this upsetting, please don’t worry—there’s still plenty of room on the couch.