Obituaries » Charles W Buell
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Charles W Buell
July 10, 1943 - February 13, 2023
Charlie Buell, comedian, athlete, Renaissance man, and self-proclaimed heartthrob, left his many fans on February 13, 2023. He departed this world the same way he came into it: loud, bald, and larger than life. Charlie—also known as Billy, Baby Cakes, Chawly, and Big Papa—was born on July 10, 1943, to Charles Alfred Buell and Elizabeth “Betty” Agnes Buell (née Butt), and nothing has been the same since.
At 14, Charlie began working at his grandmother’s service station, Speed’s, at the corner of 6th and Park. The station passed on to his mother, Betty, in the early ’70s and stayed in the family for years. At Speed’s, Charlie learned key life skills that he passed on to his kids and grandkids: how to change your oil, replace a flat tire, burp the radiator, and get engine grease out of your shirt. The only thing dirtier than Charlie’s hands were his jokes.
In his mid-30s, he accepted a position at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a Machine Mechanic in Shop 38, where he proudly worked for remainder of his career, making lifelong friends, until retiring in 2006 after 28 years of service.
In the mid-’70s, he met his future Love Muffin, Edna “Eddie” Westhoff, and somehow she liked him too. She found him funny and cute, obviously overlooking the permed hair, and was eventually tricked into thinking he was a great catch. Charlie opened up his heart and built a life with Edna and her three children, Jeff, Bill, and Chrissy. He took his role as their father very seriously, taking the boys camping and fishing, sometimes dragging Eddie and Chrissy along. He quickly became Chrissy’s ride-or-die and she, his. Charlie showed his deep love for Edna when he applied for his very first credit card to buy a washer and dryer so she wouldn’t have to tow three kids to the laundromat anymore. The relationship wasn’t always easy but it was always worth it.
Charlie was all “toe thumbs” but perhaps that was the secret to his success in bowling, golf, and slow-pitch, as evidenced by his trophy haul. Or maybe that explained his deft shuffle and the magic behind his legendary card tricks that usually came with a bawdy story. He always kept a few decks stashed in his various pockets because he never knew when a great opportunity would present itself. Every time he ran through his repertoire, you were mesmerized by his incredible showmanship. Little Joe was a crowd-pleaser, no matter how many times you’d seen it.
Never a technology wizard or one to pay for services, Charlie often asked his sister, Peggy, and her daughters to act as tech support when they visited: unlocking his Facebook profile, breaking into his email account, and fixing Edna’s iPad when it was mysteriously set to a Thai keyboard. He once called his then-son-in law, Tim, at 3:00 a.m. to fix the cable. When left to his own devices, his solution to setting the clock on his VHS player was to unplug it and then stay up until midnight to plug it back in—in case you wondered why the clock was always flashing.
Charlie loved his junk food, often sneaking it behind Edna and Chrissy’s backs when they laid down the law about his diet. He never saw a hot dog he didn’t crave. He preferred chunky peanut butter to creamy, grape soda to orange, and believed the cashew to be “the Cadillac of nuts.” He wasn’t done with any meal until he blew his nose, and he never did learn to chew with his mouth closed.
Charlie adored his three children and his two grandsons, Jason and Sam, teaching them things every kid should know: how to deal poker, catch and clean a fish, and tell fart jokes with gusto. He could always be counted on to share his wisdom; sometimes even if you asked for it. Some truths just needed to be passed along: Comic books are indeed worth the space, Elvis is superior to the Beatles, and bowling shirts are the height of fashion. If the price of such wisdom was a little lost sleep—his snoring was so loud it kept everyone awake on every floor of the house—well, that seems like a pretty good deal.
Charlie was a total softie whose heart was as big as his mouth. You knew you were loved if he bothered to tease you and through his gestures—sitting with you when you needed to not be alone, trusting you with something important, or pretending he was near death so you’d visit.
He defied the doctors for years, proving that some humans have nine lives. He finally lost the battle but not without a fight, regularly calling people to say he “wasn’t in the box yet” and haranguing them about coming to see him. His commitment to doing things his way, on his schedule, never wavered. Life was for living and it was important to keep people on their toes. His favorite color was pink, he hated spending money but loved to gamble, and he avoided exercise but was an award-winning athlete in three sports. He seemed to be perpetually mocking people, along with their dire predictions. Maybe that’s why he slept with his tongue sticking out!
Charlie leaves behind a basement full of God-only-knows-what-but-now-we-have-to-find-out, and a slew of family and friends to mourn him. He is survived by his endlessly tolerant and always devoted wife, Eddie Buell (née Westhoff); his exhausted but loving daughter, caretaker, and Love Crumb, Chrissy Buell; two chosen sons, Jeff and Billy Buell, WA; two grandsons who were his pride and joy, Chrissy’s sons Jason Buell and Sam Howe (MacKenzie), Bremerton, WA; his older and wiser sister, Peggy Buell Thomas, Manhattan Beach, CA; his baby brother, Ed Buell (Joyce), Bremerton, WA; two adored and accomplished nieces, Melanie Thomas Armstrong, Vienna, VA, and Jennifer Thomas-Hayes (Bill Hayes), Redondo Beach, CA; two brothers-in-law, Hal Mollison and Gregory Thomas; two sisters-in-law, Pam Campbell and Teri Romero; and a baker’s dozen Westhoff nieces, nephews, and their families.
The ones who might miss him most are his cat, Oliver, and his devoted Husky mix, Sherman, who guarded Charlie fiercely, insisted on sitting closer to him than anyone else, and rarely disobeyed his commands.
Charlie’s absence leaves a gaping hole in the lives of all who knew him. We can only hope he’s in heaven reunited with many friends and family, teasing his parents, enjoying junk food again, performing card tricks, and telling angels to pull his finger.
Please join us at a Celebration of Life for Charlie Buell where we will share our favorite stories—the classics and anything new. We want to hear them all! He’d be delighted we’re sending him off in style, but he ain’t buying the drinks!
March 5, 2023
Kitsap Golf and Country Club
3885 NW Golf Club Hill Road
Bremerton, Washington 98312
In lieu of flowers, Charlie chose two charitable options. Please consider donations to the MS Walk in honor of his daughter, Chrissy, and sisters-in-law Joyce and Pam, or to the American Cancer Society for “too many friends and family lost to this disease.”
To donate to the MS Walk: Go to www.walkms.org, click “Donate,” type “In Memory of Charlie Buell” (the team walking in his memory is called “C’estas”), then click “Donate” and following the remaining steps.
To donate to the American Cancer Society: Go to https://donate3.cancer.org/