WOODBURY — Charles E. White, 90, the best husband and father anyone could ask for, passed away peacefully on January 3, 2022, at his home in Woodbury.
Everyone loved Charlie. He will always be remembered for his zest for life, his infectious smile and hearty laugh.
Charlie was born on April 1, 1931, in New York City to the late Charles and Johanna White. He graduated from Naugatuck High School and Ohio State University. After college he spent a few years in the Army before working for General Electric.
He taught English at the Center School in Litchfield, then took over his father’s ice cream business in Woodbury, which he ran for more than 45 years. He was a beloved figure in Woodbury and people knew his store as “Charlie’s.”
He perfected his ice cream recipe over many years with lots of old timers coming in to taste test and giving him tips. Even though he enjoyed creating new flavors and naming them, his favorite still remained vanilla. In 1969, Charlie and his new wife, Wendy, opened a second store in Newtown, The Ice Cream Shop, where they also raised their two daughters, Leighan and Susan.
Charlie loved working in his stores. He loved interacting with all of his customers and took an interest in the lives of his employees. He was great with kids and would try and get out and support his employees by watching some of their athletic events or music concerts.
Charlie had a love for travel, in his single years, when The Ice Cream Shop had “Gone Fishin’,” he traveled to many places including Hong Kong, India, Greece, Japan, The Congo, Namibia, Nairobi, St. Thomas, the Alps, cross country to Mexico and South Africa where he met his wife, Wendy Morgan.
The two of them also enjoyed traveling and visited such places as Buenos Aires, St. Moritz, Rio, London, Puerto Rico and most recently driving across country many times in their camper van to visit their daughter in San Diego. Charlie even had a 16mm movie camera that he used to document all of this trips.
Charlie made friends wherever he went and was even named “Mr. Noordam” on a cruise ship trip through the Panama Canal.
Charlie was an avid swimmer his entire life. He and his buddies started the swim team at Naugatuck High School and the YMCA. He spent his teenage years as a lifeguard at Mt. Tom, and Hammonasset State Beach. Charlie went on to swim for Mike Peppe at Ohio State University, where he made many lifelong friends from all over the country.
They didn’t have any money at that time, but they stuck together swimming, traveling, making music and working together and their friendships lasted over 75 years. Charlie competed in Masters Swimming competitions and especially loved to swim and wind surf at Lake Quassapaug and body surf at the beach. Just a few years ago, at the age of 85, Charlie competed in a half mile open water swim at Lake Quassapaug.
In addition to swimming Charlie loved to ski. He took, many trips to the Alps and was a member of the ski patrol at Mohawk Mountain for many years. He loved to teach people to ski and took joy in the beauty of the sport.
Music was a lifetime passion of Charlie’s and he started playing the violin at a young age. He also picked up the ukulele and harmonica while jamming with his teammates at Ohio State. Charlie played many years with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra. He loved to just pick up his instruments, improvise and play by ear.
Charlie loved to sing barbershop and old time songs with his brother Ed, cousins and family. In his later years he taught himself to play the piano. His love for music was passed down to his daughter and granddaughters who all play string instruments. He loved practicing with them and passing on his knowledge of music theory.
In the off season, Charlie could be found tinkering in his workshop. He loved to take things apart and put them back together. He loved to jerry-rig and would never throw things away. He knew that they would come in handy one day for a project such as shelves in The Ice Cream Shop, setting up his car to transport ice cream and mix and make stairs.
Charlie was an innovator and even sourced all the materials and built the pasteurizing and homogenizing system he used in his ice cream hop. He even in his later years enjoyed caning chairs and wood whittling. He especially enjoyed tending to his wood stove.
Charlie was a very well read person, studied religion and philosophy. He was an independent thinker; no one could influence him. He never rushed into things. He always thought it out and made his own choice. He was never afraid to do anything and never worried about anything. He could sleep so well because he didn’t worry. He loved the simple life and found joy in just being alive.
In addition to his parents, Charlie was preceded in death by his brother, Ed White; his cousins, Ed and Robert White and Connie Froelick.
Charlie is survived by loving wife Wendy; daughter, Leighan and husband, Dean Miller, granddogs, Clover and Daisy; daughter, Susan and husband, Luis Vaz; grandchildren, Solange, Johanna and Cristiano; sister-in-law, Dale White and her sons, Geoff and Joel; his brother, John White and his wife, Ellen, and daughters, Sue and Kristin; his cousin Ed White’s former wife, Mary Anne, her husband, Howie, and her children, Ed and Suzanne, his cousin Robert White’s wife, Sally, and her son, Tyler, and his wife, Allison; his cousin, Jimmy White and his wife, Diane; his cousin, Pat Vrindten and her children, Mary Pat and Jimmy, and his cousin Connie’s children, Mark and Traci.
Charlie’s family would like to extend a special thanks to his caregivers, Margarita and Marta, and for Regional Hospice who were a big support in his final days. They would also like to say a big thank you to all the love and support that they have received from friends and family; this has meant more to them then can ever be expressed in words.
A celebration of Charlie’s life will be held at a later date in the spring. To leave an online condolence and for service updates, visit www.munsonloveterefuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Charlie’s memory to Regional Hospice, 30 Milestone Rd., Danbury 06810.