Obituary of Charles George Whitley
It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Charles George Whitley Jr. on Thursday, October 12th, 2023. Chuck fell down the stairs and broke his neck on August 29th and after putting up a heck of a fight, died of pneumonia while in rehab at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado.
Chuck (who also went by Chuckie, Carlos, Carlito, Chuckles, Chas, Georgie and Little George) was 77 years old when he passed peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.
Chuck is survived by his wife Michele, son Chris, and daughter Shannon, as well as two brothers, three brothers-in-law, six sisters-in-law, twelve nieces and nephews and nine great nieces and nephews.
Chuck said he had a hell of a ride. He lived a life filled with love, laughter, witty jokes, generosity, kindness and curiosity of anyone he came into contact with. He never met a stranger and was a friend to everyone. He was known for his unwavering dedication to family and friends. His humor, warmth and love touched the lives of all who were fortunate enough to know him. A man of many passions: he enjoyed talking, games, film, travel, baseball, art, bowling, pickleball, skiing, watching sports, politics and backflips–when presented with an available body of water.
He loved walking the greenbelt behind his house with his family and dogs Yogi and Olive, often throwing the frisbee as he walked. Chuck's love for adventure took him to far-flung corners of the world, from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the serene beaches of Bali. He believed in experiencing different cultures and cherished the beauty of diversity.
Born on April 8th, 1946 to George and Ellen Whitley in Waterloo, Iowa, Chuck had an adventurous childhood filled with travel, summer days on the family’s farm in Fayette, IA and Sunday drives with his mother, father and younger brother Bill (William Whitley). He was a rambunctious child known for getting stuck in trees, sliding across coffee tables and breaking out into skits for his family and friends to watch. His father was in the Air Force, therefore the family moved every two years or so, finally landing in Colorado Springs where he went to Wasson High School.
Chuck held a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Iowa State University where he was a beloved brother in the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island. Following in the footsteps of his father, Chuck joined ROTC at ISU and went on to join the Air Force. His final tour of duty was as a Public Affairs Officer for the Colorado Air National Guard's 140th Tactical Fighter Wing at Buckley Air Force Base. During this time, Chuck was also the author of Colorado Pride, an award-winning commemorative history book covering 65 years of the Colorado Air National Guard.
Chuck was a small business owner, retired military, arts advocate and Colorado resident for 44 years. At one point, he was a candidate for the office of Colorado lieutenant governor, running unaffiliated.
Chuck retired from the United States Air Force (lieutenant colonel), and was president and chief executive officer of Spotlight Publications, a privately held marketing and publishing business. His wife Michele Whitley, an early literacy specialist with the Arapahoe Libraries, was the company's associate publisher. Their company's range of informative guides include many editions of the arts-oriented annual publication, ArtScape, covering the Denver/Boulder area and Colorado's Front Range art communities.
Chuck often did trade with artists he featured in ArtScape. His home is a gallery of paintings, photographs, sculptures and textiles. He loved to give art as gifts to family and friends.
A strong supporter of the arts and education within the state of Colorado, Chuck has been actively involved with both communities for several decades. In addition to his work as ArtScape's Chief Executive Officer, he also served on the board of the South Suburban Public Arts Program, was a member of the Golden Triangle Museum District, served as a fine arts juror and was an active volunteer with Cherry Creek School District. He was also a baseball and softball coach for his children’s Little League teams, as well as a Scoutmaster for Chris’s boy scout troop.
Chuck and Michele’s two children reside in Colorado. Chris is a 2009 graduate of Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. He earned his Eagle Scout rank during Chuck’s tenure as a Boy Scouts of America Scoutmaster and currently works in graphic design. Daughter Shannon is a 2011 graduate of the University of Colorado, also Michele’s alma mater, and currently works in healthcare IT. Chuck was wildly proud of his children. He would say they are his biggest accomplishments.
A longtime sports enthusiast, Chuck played intramural soccer at Iowa State University, and enjoyed getting to know his teammates who came from all over the world. This was certainly one more source of inspiration for his lifelong interest in and empathy for the journey others have taken to bring them to the United States of America. Later in life, Chuck was an avid Colorado Rockies fan. One of his favorite events to host was an annual excursion with family and friends to a Rockies game, always one with a fireworks show at the end.
Chuck lived and worked in ten states and two foreign countries (Germany and the Philippine Islands) before settling in Colorado in 1979. Growing up in a military family, Chuck was adept at making friends in new places and traveling, which he continued to do extensively with his own family. He, Michele, Chris and Shannon have been to nearly every state in the union and many foreign countries. Chuck considered travel to be an important part of his children's understanding of diverse cultures and tolerance for different viewpoints. Indeed, family table talk at the Whitley’s often included all levels of current events, be it issues affecting Colorado, the U.S., or the world. Chuck’s motto was always “if you bought the ticket, take the ride.” In the last year alone, Chuck traveled to eight different countries with his family.
Chuck's spirit will forever live on in the hearts of those he touched. His legacy of love, kindness and curiosity will continue to inspire generations to come. Memory is a way to hold onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. Hold onto Chuck in your memory.
As Chuck would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
“Tis a privilege.”
We invite you to join us in celebrating his life:
- There will be a short service at Fort Logan National Cemetery on Friday, November 3rd, at 10:00 a.m.
- Meet at the "C" staging area (look for signs) at 9:45 a.m.
- 4400 W. Kenyon Ave., Denver, CO 80236
- All are welcome
- We will also hold an open house at the family home on Saturday, November 4th from 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
- Please contact Shannon if you do not have the family's home address. (303) 880-0435
- Parking might be tight. There is overflow parking at the Willow One and Willow Way Pool as well as at Willow Creek Elementary.
- All are welcome.