Write Again … A life well lived

Published 4:01 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

Charlie died Sept. 17.

Well, damn. I mean, shoot. Our fairly regular correspondence over the years had stopped for a bit. So, I just didn’t know the full extent of his health challenges.

How, and when, did I first come to meet Charlie? It was a mid-June day in 1951, as we were assembling at the now long vanished bus station in Raleigh.

In years past the charter bus would originate right here in Little Washington — that’s how we’re known, and affectionately so — and wend its way across the state, picking up camp-bound boys. The out-of-staters were responsible for their own transportation to camp.

Camp Mishemokwa. The highest elevation boys camp east of the Mississippi. It was owned and operated by E. S. Johnson, who lived in Washington, and was a longtime school educator, coach, principal, superintendent, for many, many years.

Charlie Adams and I became friends over the course of three Mishemokwa summers. He was from Cary, three years older than I, and a very good athlete. An exceptional basketball player, with an uncanny shooting ability, he had few peers in that regard. Very few.

After a highly successful prep athletic career — Cary High School won the state basketball championship his senior year — Charlie went on to Carolina. He later transferred to East Carolina College, where he was a several-years starter on the basketball team with his former Cary teammate, Guy Mendenhall.

Following college, Charlie taught and coached in high school, became an administrator, then accepted a position as assistant to the executive director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. The executive director “just happened” to be Charlie’s high school coach, Simon Terrell, and Mishemokwa’s camp director for several summers. Several wonderful summers.

When Charlie retired after 26 years as director of the Association, which also included an elective stint as head of the U.S. High School Athletic Association, he had garnered, received, amassed, just about every commendation, honor, award, Hall-of-Fame selection one might imagine.

Charlie was honored by having the gym at Cary High named after him, as well as being inducted into the CHS and ECU Athletic Halls of Fame … and the following Halls of Fame as well: NC Sports, National High Schools, NC Athletic Directors, NC High Schools Athletic Association, to name but a few of the accolades paid him.

In the early years of our relationship he became my friend, and in truth, my hero.

We renewed and strengthened our friendship over time, though the bonds of respect and caring for each other never really diminished.

So many of us mourn the passing of a special person, a special friend.

When next I see him, he’ll probably challenge me to a game of HORSE.

He’ll win. Of course.

APROPOS — “Count where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was, I had such friends.”

— Yeats