Depressed because my best friend was not returning to college with me. Broken-hearted after finally realizing that my boyfriend was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Being alone on a train was the best place for me to be after being devastated by these changes in my life that were beyond my control.
The only thing left for me to do was to feel sorry for myself and pray. I prayed for a true friend and companion who would be someone I would love and someone who would love me.
As the train slowed, I saw a guy in faded jeans and gym shoes. When the train stopped, I was looking straight at Charles William Dungy, Jr. When he took the seat next to me, we had our first real conversation.
Arriving a few days before classes started, there was only one place to get something to eat near campus. We were both famished. Looking at the menu, we saw that the prices for just about everything exceeded what money we had. We both worked on campus and wouldn’t have any money until that first check of the quarter arrived. We decided to pool our money and get what we really wanted. We shared a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and swore it was the best sandwich we’d ever had.
That was the beginning. Fifty-five years later I can say without reservation that Charles William Dungy, Jr. is the best thing that ever happened to me. Fate looked upon me with favor when he came into my life.
He has been gone three years this past February and this is the first time I’ve been able to allow myself to recall and write about the person he was. Until now, I only allowed sneak peeks of who he was, and I fed on comments others made about him. A couple of weeks ago, a colleague from many years ago and I reconnected. In expressing her condolences to me she said that she remembered Charles as distinguished, charming, and a wonderful host. She said that she would always remember a comment that a mutual acquaintance made about him—that he was easy on the eyes.
I used the condolence comments of my dear friend, Caryn, for his Obituary. In remembering him, she referenced the emptiness formerly filled by his warmth, gentleness, keen intellect, wide-ranging interests and deep devotion to his family.
There is no doubt that he was blessed with good looks, charm, impeccable taste, enormous intelligence, and boundless curiosity and interests. I used to call him Mr. Smithson because his interests were as many and as varied as those housed in the Smithsonian.
His varied interests may make some think that he was a dilettante. He was not. He just didn’t have the time to go as deeply as he would like to go in his many areas of interests. He needed many more lifetimes to satisfy his need to know and desire for experiences.
When he would get frustrated about time pressures, we’d often say, “There is no time!” We picked this expression up after watching the film Killer Angels regarding the Civil War. This was supposedly said by General Robert E. Lee when talking strategy for attacks at Gettysburg just before the war ended.
Charles was the most intelligent person I had ever met. When the rest of us were just learning what a computer was, his job at the university was running data for professors’ research projects. He was indispensable to them at that time as he later was indispensable to our family. He majored in math, physics, and engineering. He also attained an MBA. These degrees were just stops along the way for his prodigious mind.
We will always love him and feel indebted to him for putting his interests in a small pouch that he would only dip into every now and then because he wanted to support me in my career, and he wanted to hoist our son up so he could strive to reach his unlimited potential. This beautiful and talented man drew his ambition small and bent his will to support us.
It grieves me when I think that he didn’t have as much time as he needed to explore the wonder of everything that interested him. I will always love him, miss him, and respect him for the man he was.