Celebration of Life – Charlie Cathrell

*Celebration of Life service held at First Christian Church of Hampton, VA, on 18 May 2019.  “None of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself,” and in no one was that more true than in Charlie.  This is my remarks and does not include the family remembrances which were profoundly touching. Please keep Charlie’s family in your prayers.  – Vinson


Scriptures Read During the Service

Romans 8:35, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 3:20-21, II Corinthians 1:3-5

John 14:1-3 & Proverbs 4:1-13



In the Gospel of Luke [chapter 24], on the day of Easter, two disciples walked from Jerusalem toward Emmaus, talking as they went.  Jesus joined them.  Lost in thought and conversation, they didn’t recognize him.  Not even when Jesus asked them “What things?” when they wondered why he didn’t know anything of what transpired the previous days.  The ending wasn’t was they anticipated, and Good Friday had come.  The reports from the women that Sunday morning had seemed… implausible.

Then they added “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”

“We had hoped,” is a phrase that’s really resonated in the journey that’s brought us to this afternoon.

“We had hoped” that Charlie would push through the medical crisis.

“We had hoped” for a different diagnosis through one thing and the next, that the stubborn streak of Charlie’s and his enthusiasm for life would translate into healing, surprising the docs and pleasing us.

“We had hoped” that Charlie would recover, that if not more years, we’d at least have more months.

“We had hoped,” but on a Thursday we experienced our Good Friday, and there are few things more painful than dashed hope in our broken world


Amid this, I would suggest that right now we can learn a lot from how Jesus interacted with the disciples that journey us through healing.  As we move through and beyond “we had hoped” – discovering they won’t be the final words we will speak – to the new kind of hope the disciples experienced… and spoke.


If we have found ourselves walking this road away from Jerusalem, still hurt and confused, what’s interesting is that Jesus doesn’t just start telling Bible stories so as paper over their hurt or force them to feel better.  You see, my friends, Jesus is OK hearing us speak of our hurt, holding forth a clear example for those of us who would walk this journey with the family.  Jesus comes alongside us on the road.  He asks what’s wrong.  He listens to what is said of all that’s transpired and of the life absent.

He lets them tell their story.  The whole story.  He lets us tell ours.

After all, as those who proclaim Christ, isn’t that what today is about as we tell the story of Charlie?  We may tell the story of grief, but as Psalm 23 assures us, we aren’t alone on that walk… and as Jesus shows us – the shepherd is present.  That’s what gets us to the story of LIFE – one whose legacy will become only clearer as we tell stories about Charlie – for whom Easter has come.

Anyone who knew Charlie knows at least one good story… probably several.  We’ve already heard a few and I hope the story telling keeps going!

Among the stories?  Let’s face it, Charlie was never allergic to hard work.  It started when he was a boy and would often help his Dad at the grand brick cotton spinning mill in town, built little more than a century ago.  A sprawling brick palace, surrounded by a mill village, in that age it wasn’t uncommon for children to be found in the mills.  Smaller hands were very adept in dealing with some of the finer details, to ensure a good product.

His work ethic certainly continued when he moved to the Peninsula to work at Newport News Shipbuilding, and when a strike came along, Charlie didn’t sit around.  He went to work for UPS.  Now this was when the brown UPS trucks were still very much a new thing.  The business had just expanded to all the lower 48 states and marketed itself on timely deliveries.  To start off right, Charlie decided to spend Sunday afternoon before his first day, practicing driving his route, right along with Betty, as usual, his trusted sidekick!

Charlie left nothing to chance, and it showed.  It was no different with the kids.

Just ask Rob was it was like to have a paper route with his Pop driving.  Sometimes even letting him drive, while Charlie would then sprint for the doorsteps, even if… uh… Rob was underage!  It was going to be done:   right AND on time!

But what really defined Charlie was “family.”  He completely owned being a father, not just a husband.  Charlie saw no difference whether the children were of blood – with Cindy, or of the heart – with Rob, Mark and Jamie.  They were ALL his kids, protected with a fierce heart and clear love.  He embraced the boys, then young survivors of great sadness – and over the years he gave them a sure footing in life – on the ballfield, at home, in the shop, in the house.  No soft touch, except maybe for the grandkids!  Charlie could hand out discipline and wherever there are three boys, as was also the case in my own family, someone’s going to merit it!  But the objective was clearly the hope of the father who spoke in Proverbs 4, to not “…let what I say go in one ear and out the other.  Stick with wisdom and she will stick to you, protecting you throughout your days.”  He knew how to offer that very pragmatic word of counsel that is best heard in a true and trusting relationship.

Bottom line: One cannot underestimate the lifelong impact of Charlie’s fathering.

Of course, Charlie, being his gregarious self, just as readily pulled into his heart his children’s spouses and then the grandchildren, whom Charlie so clearly and deeply adored – and anyone else he could add to his merry band.  All knew his encouragement, tenacious love, sense of fun, and ever infectious laugh.  Always laughter!

Charlie and Betty shared a deep love and an even deeper friendship with one another.  It was a partnership from the outset, one that brought them from Edenton to the Peninsula.  I don’t know many women who don’t deeply love a man who loves her children and Betty is eternally grateful for that lifelong gift.  Yet, not only were they teammates through the daily demands of guiding and raising the children, they were devoted partners: in love, in fun, in laughter with one another – and yes, watching Charlie’s beloved Redskins!  As Julie likes to say, the best partners of all are our partners in crime, the ones who cry with us, giggle with us, roll eyes at us, plot shenanigans with us, and never, ever let go of us, no matter the circumstance.

Betty and Charlie were blessed by second chances to create their love story; they neither wasted them, nor took them for granted.

Together, they cherished their beautiful family, the grands, even the family of friendships they created amongst us here, welcoming so many into their home.  To the end, they were devoted, caring, attentive, loving.  It was a difficult walk those last few weeks, in particular, but they did it the way they did everything: side by side, smiling and encouraging one another, letting grace lead the way.  The example they set shows in the next generations’ relationships as well.


I’ve been thinking about how on the last Sunday in March, when our congregation had a hymn sing.  The one Charlie sang with a full heart, a favorite of his, was “I Love to Tell the Story.”  It’s clear Charlie’s story is one intertwined with love for family and clear in a faith lived out in action.  It was everything we could hope for.  His story was and IS one to tell, as we walk with the Lord



Charles “Charlie” E. Cuthrell

Charles (Charlie) E. Cuthrell, 75, passed away on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at Riverside Regional Medical Center surrounded in love by his family.  He was the son of the late William “Ed” and Carrie Cuthrell (Batton) of Edenton, NC.  He graduated from John A. Holmes High School in Edenton, NC.  After graduation he enlisted in the Army for 4 years.  After leaving the service he moved to the Peninsula to work at Newport News Shipbuilding. He left the shipyard to put on his browns for UPS and retired after 25 years.  After retirement he went to work ABC store in Yorktown for 4 years.  He was an avid wood worker and landscaper, enjoying working in his shed on many projects.  He was all about family, faith and friends, making many wonderful memories for everyone.  His favorite was the annual family vacations to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Charlie was a member of First Christian Church, Todds Lane, Hampton.
Charlie was preceded in death by his parents William and Carrie Cuthrell, brothers Robert Twiddy and Payne Twiddy, and Payne’s wife, Erna. He is survived by his wife of 43 years Betty Cuthrell and his children, Rob Cuthrell (Tina) of Yorktown, Cindy Seymour of Edenton, NC., Mark Goodrich (Melissa) of Newport News, and Jamie Cuthrell (Carmelita) of Lawrenceville, NJ. He is also survived by six grandchildren, Amber, Andrew, Emily, Daniel, Freddy and Lilly; a sister Faye Mullins of Newport, NC and Ruby Daniels of Suffolk and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to give our heartfelt thanks for the loving care dad received from Riverside Regional Medical Center, Peninsula Cancer Institute, HR Neurosurgical and Spine Specialists and the RRMC Medical ICU team. Thank you!
The family requests in lieu of flowers, gifts of love sent to
First Christian Church
1458 Todds Lane
Hampton, VA 23666


I Love to tell the Story

I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know ’tis true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else could do.

I love to tell the story;
’twill be my theme in glory
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.

I love to tell the story;
more wonderful it seems
than all the golden fancies
of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story,
it did so much for me;
and that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee.  [Refrain]

I love to tell the story;
’tis pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it,
more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story,
for some have never heard
the message of salvation
from God’s own holy Word.  [Refrain]

I love to tell the story;
for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest.
And when in scenes of glory
I sing the new, new song,
’twill be the old, old story
that I have loved so long.  [Refrain]

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