When reflecting on the life of Charlotte Willson, it is easy to see that there was no greater joy in her life than being surrounded by her family. She was a longtime resident of the community she loved, and she was a gift in the lives of everyone she met. Charlotte was blessed to share the majority of her life with her true love, and together they experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. With her unwavering faith at her core, she faced whatever came her way with both grace and courage. Life will never be the same without Charlotte here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we fondly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Radios and refrigerators became part of our homes, and cars were widely mass produced on assembly lines. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1928 when Wilbur W. and Genevieve (Gloy) Hamman were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Charlotte Joyce on July 17, 1928, in Auburn, Indiana. She was one of three children as she was joined in her family by her brothers, Jack and Bill, but tragedy struck when her father died when she was only two years old. As a result, Charlotte’s mother raised her along with the help of a family caregiver she affectionately called Bunny. Charlotte did what she could to help and loved hanging clean laundry out on the line. She attended local schools and graduated from Ossian High School in 1946.
New and exciting changes were in store for Charlotte when she met the man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Glenn Willson, and they met because he was a friend of her brother, Jack. At the time they met Glenn and Jack were both pursuing a young gal named Mary Lou, but in the end it was Charlotte who stole his heart. As soon as Glenn returned from the military, he and Charlotte were married on August 2, 1947, at the Presbyterian Church in Ossian. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the life she cherished as she treasured nothing more than being a housewife and mother. Together she and Glenn welcomed four children including Gary, Bruce, Dean, and Rita into their hearts and home. In 1962, Charlotte and her husband moved to a farm in Union Township where they remained until moving to Columbia City after retiring in 2006.
Charlotte loved being on the farm, and countless memories were made there as a family. One of their favorites was the “Rooster Story.” They raised chickens but also had one mean rooster that never bothered the boys but was notorious for chasing Rita and Charlotte. In fact, Rita would often have to carry a ball bat so she could get on the school bus without getting spurred! On one particular day, Charlotte went out to the barn to call Glenn in for lunch when the rooster started after her. Exasperated, Charlotte grabbed an old metal fence post that was leaning up against a tree and ended up hitting the rooster. Although she thought she killed him, she only knocked him out for about an hour. Another family favorite was the story of how Charlotte got after the boys for shooting at Rita’s beloved sheep with their pea shooter BB gun. She confiscated their gun and wrapped it around the old mulberry tree, never to shoot again! Cooking and baking for her family was Charlotte’s favorite activity, and as her children got older she loved cooking for everyone at her home on Sundays. Pie was her specialty, and among the family favorites were her Top of the World pie and pumpkin pie. Charlotte also made a very high and fluffy angel food cake. Her secret ingredient was Wonder Flour, and she would go to great lengths to get it at times. Charlotte was always so proud of her four children and loved introducing them by saying, “These are my three sons and one daughter.”
Throughout her life Charlotte was a bustle of activity. She was so creative and loved quilting, sewing, crocheting, and making beaded religious ornaments and jewelry. Charlotte also handprinted on China plates. She collected tea cups and started a collection of “Cups of the Month.” Charlotte was so excited to even find a couple monthly cups in Canada while on vacation. She and Glenn loved just taking off on vacation without any plans, although their kids were generally not too thrilled about how their parents always found an overabundance of things to enjoy along the way. Charlotte and her husband loved big band music and faithfully watched the Lawrence Welk Show every Saturday night when their children knew they were to be quiet. She and Glenn loved square dancing and were also members of First Church of God.
Later in life Charlotte continued to live fully in the moments she was given. She did so many unexpected things like riding on a motorcycle and going on trips, buying a 5th wheel and truck and pulling it to Florida during the winters, and more. They loved going to Florida and spending time with the friends they made, riding bikes, and doing crafts. When they arrived back in Indiana in the Spring, it was always easy to see how refreshed, relaxed, and renewed Charlotte seemed. She loved going out to breakfast with her children and keeping up on everything going on in their lives. Even the simple things they did for her like taking her to the grocery store and helping her shop were things she deeply appreciated. Easter was a very special time for Charlotte, and she loved creating Easter bunny cakes that were a piece of art as well as coloring Easter eggs. As she got older, Charlotte’s grandchildren also helped keep an eye on her whether they were nearby or not. Cari and her family made a standing appointment to have dinner with grandma at her home every Tuesday evening. Each of the grandchildren did special things for Charlotte in their own way.
All who knew Charlotte Willson would agree that she was a blessing in every way. She wasn’t one to join in a ton of activities, rather, she filled her time with being with the ones she loved most. Charlotte leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her family will forever treasure.
Charlotte Joyce Willson, of Columbia City, passed away suddenly at 12:24 p.m. Thursday, March 23, 2017. Charlotte’s family includes her 4 children, Gary W. (Sally) Willson, Bruce A. (Annette) Willson both of Columbia City, Dean E. (Patricia) WIllson of Leo, IN and Rita C. (Gale) Pittman of South Whitley; 1 brother, Bill (Karen) Crane, Ossian; 8 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, Glenn W. and 1 brother, Jack Hamman. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at DeMoney-Grimes, A Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at the funeral home with one hour of visitation prior to the service at 10:00 a.m. Randy Grimes, Certified Funeral Celebrant will officiate. Burial will follow at Covington Memorial Gardens, Covington Road, Fort Wayne. Memorial bequest may be given in Mrs. Willson’s memory to First Church of God.