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September 5, 2012

Good Time Charlie

McCreary County Health and Rehab bids farewell to beloved volunteer

PINE KNOT —  Since opening 21 years ago, McCreary County Health and Rehabilitation Center has depended on community support to brighten the days of their residents. Through one of those residents, the nursing home gained one its most beloved volunteers.

    M.C. Chitwood, better known as Charlie to his friends, began coming the facility 17 years ago to visit his wife Barbara. As his relationship with the staff and other residents grew, Charlie found himself helping out wherever he could.

    “I’d help serve…just about everything I’ve done,” Charlie said.

    When Barbara passed away in 2001, Charlie kept coming to the center. He found his niche calling out Bingo games every Tuesday and Thursday. He would also take the residents on train rides and other excursions, but his generosity wasn’t limited to them.

    McCreary Health and Rehab’s Robin Stephens recalled how, when management gave out Christmas hams, Charlie gave his to a family who needed it more. He also would buy toys for the children of employees.

    “If someone was in need, Charlie always made things happen,” she said.

Charlie himself deflected any effort to make him sound too valiant, joking that he could afford to since he wasn’t married. Though the picture of health, a recent fall made Charlie rethink living alone. His first choice would have been McCreary County Health and Rehab, Charlie’s benefits as a retired Chief Warrant Officer in the Coast Guard made the veterans home in Wilmore more affordable. So he sold his house in Stearns and made arrangements to bid his Pine Knot family farewell.

    Charlie’s 80th birthday was August 21, a Tuesday. The staff prepared a birthday/going away celebration — complete with a cake decorated as a Bingo card. Staff and residents shared their well wishes as Charlie sat at the table he had shared for years with Lena Thompson, Betty Bryant and Reba Bell.

    When asked if they help Charlie preside over Bingo, Betty replied, “No…he helps us out.”

    “He’s almost like a fixture here,” Robin Stephens said. “We hate to see him go.”

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