Charles A. Munion, 93, of Crestwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 568 Child Street, Warren, RI, died on Sunday morning, May 24, 2020 at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA after a fall earlier in the week.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, he grew up attending the Grace Presbyterian Church in the city and graduated from Central High School in 1945. Although it was the end of World War II, he knew he would be drafted to serve so he enlisted in the Navy Reserve for the “duration plus six months.” He was assigned to an Essex Class Aircraft Carrier, the USS Boxer, in the Pacific, which was demonstrating air strength over China in support of Chaing Kai Shek and stationed principally at Tsingtao, Northern China. Other assignments followed including cruises to Shanghai, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Marianas, lasting seventeen months.
He then found employment with the Photostat Corporation as a Sales and Service Representative for four years until the Korean War broke out. He was recalled as a reservist in the Navy to the Naval Air Station at Miramar, San Diego, CA as an Aerial Photographer. He was active in ministry in several Presbyterian churches during this time including El Cajon, San Diego and La Jolla. Upon release sixteen months later, he stayed in San Diego to attend San Diego State College and graduated in June, 1955, with a General Studies major in preparation for Christian Ministry. He experienced a call to the ministry, always felt comfortable in the church and wanted to help people journey through life.
When he was accepted to Princeton Theological Seminary, in Princeton, NJ, in 1955, he described it as “the happiest day of my life.” His love of music had been growing and in the summer of 1956 he joined the Princeton Seminary Touring Choir and traveled to Mexico and Guatemala. At Princeton Seminary, he met his wife, Thalia Pagler, who was pursuing a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. She was the daughter of Dr. Nicholas and Evodia Pagler. He proposed and they were married in March of 1957 and honeymooned in the nearby Pocono Mountains. He completed his Master of Divinity degree in 1958 and accepted a call to the Parkland United Presbyterian Church in Parkland, PA. Before assuming this role, he and his new wife took a three-month tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and other places in Europe, immersing themselves in the culture and culinary delights of many countries. He began his ministry in Parkland in September of 1958. He assumed the role of Choir Director, organized a Couples Club, counseled at summer camp, started Family Nights and Vacation Church School, and joined several choral groups in the community. In 1959, he and Thalia vacationed in Maine and fell in love with the lake location. They soon purchased some waterfront land there where he built a “camp,” as the locals call it, with the help of his brother-in-law and some friends. This would become a family haven of joyful memories for decades to come. He soon welcomed three daughters: Bonnie Leigh, Dale Ellyn and Wendy Lynne.
He received and accepted a call in 1963 from the First Presbyterian Church in Worcester, MA. During his ministry there, he deepened his involvement with youth work particularly in the camping program, culminating in Co-Directing a Counselor Development Program at Camp Wilmot in New Hampshire and serving as a Camp Counselor. A new phase of ministry developed in Radio and Television through the local Council of Churches resulting in his production of Vespers programs, Morning Prayers, Religion in the News, four consecutive special Christmas Programs and Sunday Morning Church Services aired on a rotating basis with other churches. He was also a member of the Community Action Council and on the Mayor’s Community Development Advisory Board. It became evident that for the ministry of this church to continue, it needed to move out of the inner city. After much prayer and study, the congregation voted to purchase land and build a new church in 1979, celebrating the Advent Season in this new location.
Charles felt it was time to accept a new challenge in ministry in 1986 and accepted a call to serve as minister of the Litchfield Community Church Presbyterian in Litchfield, NH. The church had been struggling for many years. He was instrumental in purchasing a restored tracker organ for the sanctuary, led building infrastructure improvements by acquiring grants, engaged a volunteer youth mission group to help paint the building and made needed landscaping and drainage improvements. Other renovations he coordinated through gifts included carpeting and a remodeled kitchen. He started a monthly newsletter to build better communication, developed creative worship bulletins and posters and installed a mimeograph machine. With his love of music, he encouraged the creation of church cantatas, musical programs and the Litchfield Cathedral Quartet, which sang on special occasions. The church grew with new members, new ideas, a new vision and new mission. He was also a member of the Nashua Choral Society, the Interfaith Choir and the Manchester Symphony Chorale. In 1991, he and his wife joined Mid-America Productions in NY where a chorus was formed and they performed in Carnegie Hall and then toured Russia, singing at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow and Shostakovich Hall in St. Petersburg. He retired from the Litchfield Church in 1992 and was unanimously voted to be given the title of Pastor Emeritus.
He and his wife moved to an assisted living center in 2010 and settled at Crestwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in 2018 where they received excellent, loving care. He leaves three daughters, Bonnie M. Wojcik and Dale M. Winters of Barrington, RI and Wendy M. King of Canton MA; son-in-law, Ed Wojcik and grandson, Benjamin Nicholas Wojcik of Barrington, RI; and sons-in-law, Mark Winters and Dominic King; a sister, Elizabeth Burkhardt of Douglassville, PA. There will be a private family burial service. A memorial service will be held at a later time.
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