Charles Raymond Messner January 9, 1922 ~ February 22, 2013
He was born January 9, 1922, in Northfield, Minnesota to Charles Henry Messner and Hazel Leota Messner. The youngest of 5 children, Charles grew up during the Great Depression after his father’s death at an early age. As a member of what is known by many as the “Greatest Generation,” Charles served in the Merchant Marines during World War II from 1943 to 1946 as the Lead Pumpman aboard his ship. He participated in dangerous missions delivering critically needed aviation fuel from the west coast to Pearl Harbor and Midway Island. One of his fondest memories was of his ship sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge as they received the news that the war had come to an end. He always said, “You just can’t imagine the joyful celebration!”
Following service in the Merchant Marines, Charles was employed by Standard Oil Company before returning to Northfield, Minnesota. Less than a quarter of a mile down the road lived his future wife, Florence. In 1951, Florence and Charles and infant daughter, Elaine, moved to Riverside, California. While in California he worked for Johnson Tractor Company selling heavy construction equipment. In 1961 the family moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas. He worked as an earthmoving contractor until 1963 when Charles joined the Campbell Soup Company. His knowledge and skills allowed him to rise to the position of Manager of Maintenance until his retirement in 1983. His engineering accomplishments include the patented invention for chicken processing equipment known as the “Messner Tailcutter”.
Charles was a kind and caring individual, a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His encouragement, patience and support created a wonderful family environment. He was especially devoted to Florence, providing her with loving care and support during her long battle with lymphoma. He was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Charles took great pride in being part of a large extended family. Survivors include his sister, Leota Zimmerman of Dennison, Minnesota; six children and their spouses: Elaine Smiley and her husband Bill of Elkins, Ark.; Arlene Hayes and her husband Ron of Prairie Village, Kansas; Tom Messner and his wife Dorothy of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida; Helen Messner of Prairie Village, Kansas; Eileen Jenkins and Gary Prince of Jacksonville, Ark.; and Joan Allen and her husband Patrick of Leawood, Kansas.
His nine grandchildren and their spouses include: Laura Smiley and husband James of Little Rock, Ark.; Alan Smiley of Elkins, Ark.; Jennifer Hayes of Prairie Village, Kansas; Rebecca Hayes of Wicker Park, Illinois; Emily and Charles Messner of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida; Kyle Jenkins and his wife Brittany of Elkins, Ark.; and Sarah and Thomas Allen of Leawood, Kansas.
He is also survived by two great-grandchildren: Avery Quick of Little Rock, Ark. and Kylie Jenkins of Elkins, Ark. Additionally, he is survived by many nieces, nephews, their spouses and children and grandchildren.
The family wishes to especially thank the “Honor Flight Network” locally funded by Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart, and countless volunteers for their support of our American veterans. Charles’ Honor Flight to Washington, DC in 2010 was an extremely memorable occasion for him and his family. The family will also be forever grateful for the kind and loving care he received at the Veterans Hospital in Fayetteville. The nurses, doctors, and support staff provided especially tender attention during his final days.
Graveside services will be held at Fayetteville National Cemetery on February 27, 2013 under the direction of Beard’s Funeral Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, www.stjude.org, the Honor Flight organization at www.honorflight.org or Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
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