A year ago today, Charles Ocepek of Claridge, PA passed away. Charles was a wonderful man who cared deeply about his community and wanted to protect it from fracking. While Charles is not with us anymore, his legacy remains. In memory of this dear man, we’d like to share from Charles' neighbor, Jim Tummolo.
Charles knew this community like no one else. He was with the American Legion for 70 years and a postmaster in Claridge for 35 years. Charles never bragged about anything.
We talked almost every day. He would ask me what was happening in the community, especially with the fracking wells. Charles never complained about anything, but he was highly concerned about the fracking coming into the community. One day, he looked at me and said, “Mark my words - I won’t be here in 20 years, but they’re going to regret all this.”
Charles liked to sit by his front window and look out. My grandkids used to sit with him sometimes. He often told me, “From our view, not a lot has changed over the years.” Charles loved his community and wanted to preserve it.
My family moved in next door in 1996, and Charles welcomed us from day one. He even let me put my grandkids’ swing set in his backyard. There were no boundaries between us.
Charles never missed one of my grandkid’s birthdays. He even gave them gifts, and he included our family in everything.
Charles was a great gardener. His signature was his lettuce. It always got a lot of sun and came up early. Years ago, Charles had a big garden up on the back of his property. When he wasn’t able to get around as well, Charles asked me to move his garden to the back of his house so he could still grow his plants.
After Charles passed, his son Karl asked me to continue the tradition and keep growing the lettuce. I still have the lettuce seed, and I’m growing it by his house.
I cannot say enough good things about Charles. He was a great man who deeply cared about his community.