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thoughts after

.. those who influence our lives

One of the few communities I belong to here are LJ, does a "friday four" thing where four questions or statements are posed for the membership to respond to. Last Friday, one of the challenges was:
Name the 4 people that influenced you in your life the most:

Without going into the names I included on my list, several hours later it came to me that I had left someone off ..

Charles Patranella began his teaching career in the RISD in 1968. He arrived at RHS to teach Junior and Senior English classes. Only a decade older than most of his students, he was the exception rather than the rule of matronly guidance and his students identified with him almost immediately. I was fortunate enough to have his classes for my last two years of high school.

Mister Patranella was a moderately large man of Italian descent. He was gregarious, bombastic and humorous .. having all the traits missing in most of our other teachers (or at least less recognizable in all our other teachers) I can't say that I recall a single "English" lesson presented by him, but I do know that he engendered and fanned my desire to write (and photograph (and listen to loud rock and roll)) .. encouragement that led to my poet habit, my degree in Journalism from Texas A&M, and my presence on the internet as a journalist (yes, he is the fellow to whom all blame should be assigned)

Charles was generous with his time beyond the hallowed halls of Rockdale High. His lived his life with an open door policy. His immaculately clean home was a favorite weeknight gathering spot for many of his students .. including me .. where we provided the entertainment with our gossip, our music and our questions about what happens next ..

Eventually he left teaching and, for a some time, ran a liquor store in College Station.

Even in this seemingly out of character endeavor, his cheerful and truly caring personality became the bright spot in many lives of those he referred to as "my regulars"

He treated everyone as a human being, deserving of respect and compassion.

In the realization that I had neglected him by leaving him off the list, I utilized http://www.pipl.com to do a name search. Where I had found nothing before, I was now faced with several listings of his name with a date of birth that fell within the correct time frame, and a date of death of August 2006. Fearing that this was in fact my Charles Patranella, I plugged his name and the single word "obit" into a Google search .. and received a hit I did not want ..

Charles Marco Patranella
13 November 1942 - 24 August 2006
A giving and loving man

Paid Obituary

Charles Marco Patranella was the first born child of Joe C. and Josephine P. Patranella. Weighing only four pounds and twelve ounces, he was the first premature infant born at the old St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, Texas. Upon his arrival, Sister M.Gregory, the hospital administrator ordered an incubator to sustain his life.

From an early age, Charles was motivated to read and learn on his own, in addition to what he was taught at school and from his parents; he was also very creative and imaginative. He told stories of how he spent his days before computers, video games and iPods. In the mornings, he and his sister, Janice, would play outside; he was Roy Rogers and she was Dale Evans. Dressed for the occasion, they wore the outfits right down to the boots, chaps, skirt and vests. In the afternoons, he would read the World Book Encyclopedias from cover to cover, one volume to the next. Often he would read to Janice.

Charles was doted on by loving parents and grandparents who instilled in him a sense of responsibility, confidence, and nurturing. At an early age he helped his parents operate a grocery store on Main Street in downtown Bryan, as well as other family-owned stores throughout his high school years. His father gave him the choice of the meat market or the sale of general goods. He chose the meat market and loved waiting on the customers. He was an obedient and dependable son who was entrusted with the care of his brother, Michael, and sisters, Janice and Anna Jo; a role that he took seriously. He watched them so his mother could relieve his father at the grocery store. Although Charles was young, he was confident and in-charge, yet caring and protective of his siblings. They were in capable and loving hands. Charles was not only their brother; but also a surrogate parent.

Charles was dedicated to his faith and family. As an Italian American, raised in the Catholic Church, religion was central to his upbringing. Church was a given each Sunday, followed by visits to both sets of grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa Perrone's home in Steele's Store was the first stop after mass, where all thirty-something grandchildren literally had a field day. Evenings at Grandpa's and Aunt Lena's were highlighted by Aunt Lena's smothered potatoes and onions and playing with the five Patranella cousins. To date, all of Charles' cousins remain close and supportive of each other. Charles became interested in genealogy and later became one of the foremost local Italian historians. He was a superb storyteller and responsible for handing down stories of the old days from one generation to another.

In May of 1960, Charles graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School and attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. In those days it was not as common for a college student to have his own vehicle. Some of the most memorable family times were the drives to Huntsville; the entire family would pray the rosary immediately, followed by singing "Leader of the Pack," "Tell Laura I Love Her," and various Elvis songs. The trip back to Bryan was more sedate, especially in the back seat, where there was a silence and sadness after Charles was dropped off at his dorm; but the family knew that he would be home on Friday.

After college graduation, Charles lived in Rockdale, Texas where he taught high school English for several years. His students learned grammar and literature from the book; but Charles went beyond the book and counseled them in the lessons of life. Many of his students continued to correspond with him throughout the years. Charles was the owner of the Night Owl Liquor Store in Bryan for several years and later worked income taxes with his parents. Prior to his illness he was involved in the family farming, ranching and rental businesses.

A connoisseur of music, movies, books and various art collections, Charles enjoyed giving and sharing his knowledge with his family. He was proud and supportive of his niece and nephews and enjoyed special relationships with each of them. They adored him and valued the times spent with him, as well as the thoughtful deeds and presents given to them. They took special care of his needs and supported him throughout his illness; he expressed much gratitude to them.

Religion was an important part of Charles' life. He was generous in giving to St. Anthony's Church in Bryan and especially liked to furnish fresh flowers for the main and side altars on Sundays. Although he gave to various charities, it pleased Charles most to contribute to individuals going through hard times.

Charles enjoyed interacting with people and had many friends that span the generations. He will be missed by his friends and loved ones; but the memories of his wit, wisdom, and caring nature will continue to warm the hearts of those who knew him.

Charles was preceded in death by his parents, Joe C. and Josephine P. Patranella, of Bryan. As happens in life, he and his brother and sisters reversed roles with their parents. Charles moved in to help with the family business and care for his parents. He was a wonderful cook and prepared many delicious meals for them; his dressing was unapproachable. Upon the death of his father, Charles became even closer to his mother as she struggled with the death of her husband. Upon her passing, Charles was filled with a heavy heart and a yearning for life as it was before the aging and death of his parents. His sisters and brother remained devoted to him and cared for him as if they were his parents, recalling how he had cared for them.

Survivors include his sisters and their families, Walter G. and Janice Jo Ann Patranella Albert of San Antonio and their children Michael Charles of Plano and Luke Perrone Albert of Phoenix, Arizona; Fred F. and Anna Jo Patranella Mitchell of Bryan and their children, Joseph Frank and Mark Christopher Mitchell of Bryan; his sister-in-law and brother, Joanne Riordan and Michael Gerard Patranella and their children Lucille Josephine of South Bend, Indiana and Joseph Riordan Patranella of Bryan.

Charles' family would like to thank Msgr. John C. Malinowski, the Chaplain of St. Joseph Regional Health Center, for his friendship and support, as well as Paul G. and Yvonne Davis and Ozella Moore for their continued love and support. To be commended is Dora, Charles' nurse in the Critical Care Unit of St. Joseph Regional Health Center, for her efforts in caring for him during the critical hours.

Special thanks go to his team of caregivers, Joyce Martin, Rana Turner, Pearl Williams, Kimberly Sparks, Jo Ann Turner and Jean Davis for their sincere dedication to and care of Charles. His family would also like to thank Father Sang Lee, Pastor of St. Anthony's Church in Bryan, for caring for Charles' spiritual needs.


I know these type of obituaries often sound contrived .. overdone. Someone trying to convince the world that regardless of the circumstances of death (unknown in this case) the person was better than you might have imagined.

In this particular case, I cannot argue with a single word .. he was all of that and more.

The knowledge that he is no longer out there somewhere, makes his legacy richer in each of us, who knew him.

.. it was my privilege to have known him


( 3 thoughts — whataya think )
Sep. 5th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss. :( I too have had the unfortunate experience of finding out someone influential in my life had passed away through a Google search. Just kinda makes the world seem a little darker when someone so great is gone.
Apr. 2nd, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
Charles Patranella
It was refreshing to read about my brother and the impact he had on the lives of others. I too graduated from high school in 1973 and while he wasn't my "English teacher", he was my Life teacher. He very well could have been the first "Life Coach" known to man.

He made me feel safe & secure as if no matter what I did I would have this Big Bear of a brother to protect me and let me know that........"everything is going to be all right". I miss him.

Michael G. Patranella '77
Mar. 1st, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
Charles Marco Patranella
My sincere condolences to the Patranella family.
I too was extremely saddened to learn of Charles' passing, by way of the internet. Especially 2.5 yrs after his passing.
It would take a large volume of books to say all of the wonderful things about Charles. I will try in a few sentences, but it most surely will not do him justice. I will only be able to touch the surface, however my intentions are sincere.
Charles was the most intelligent man I've ever known. He could converse on a myriad of subjects, and on any level, well, maybe physics would be the only exception. He loved literature, the arts, history, and many, many other subjects most of us only dream of, or imagine. His voracious reading/comprehension ability would baffle most educated adults considered "well read". He also collected numerous items that reflected his rich taste for well done art, skill and fashion.
Charles was a true historian on many levels. He could name Oscar winners from the present to many years past. All this information stored in his magnificent mind. He could also do this sort of thing on many levels and many subjects. Unbelieveable! Most who knew him were always amazed and impressed with his level of intelligence and keen knowledge.
Charles was a strong family man. He loved and cherished his family more than anything, and more than anyone I've ever known. He was an unbelieveable family historian, and as well, a historian regarding the Italian heritage of Brazos Valley.
He always amazed me, and I'm sure many others with his superior knowledge. He gave me a little plaque once that read "Most of you who think you know everything, are annoying to those of us who do" He knew what he was talking about! He could be very comical and hilarious with his intelligence! He really was amazing!
Speaking of family, he was a tireless caretaker of his mother and father, and looked after any and all family, and true friends that entered his house. He was such a family guardian on so many levels, it's really difficult to describe, and would be even more difficult for others to comprehend.
I will credit Charles for numerous things that I've been able to accomplished in my adult life. He was a wonderful human being. I will miss him dearly, but I will cherish the good memories of him that I hold in my mind and heart.

( 3 thoughts — whataya think )


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