After establishing the East Rockaway/Lynbrook Observer with his wife, Jean, Charles Warner was frequently visible through the window of their large Victorian home on Centre Avenue, taking puffs from a cigar and typing articles at 150 words per minute.
Warner, a journalist and veteran of World War II, died on Oct. 22 of natural causes. He was 92.
Charles spent most of his life in East Rockaway before eventually moving to Atlantic City. He graduated from Lynbrook High School in 1943 and joined the U.S. Army, where he received a Bronze Star. He was shot while on duty and lived with a catheter for most of his life. After the war, he went to Fordham University and then worked as a brewery inspector for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives before deciding to start a newspaper.
“As my dad put it, he got bored of a government job, so then, I believe they were raising their seven children and he started a paper,” said Charles’s grandson, Josh Warner. “He would do the layout and the editing, and my Nana would write a lot of the articles.”
He noted that his grandmother often wrote about raising seven children in her articles and that his grandfather also did the layout and editing for the Gull at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School, the Hempstead Examiner, the Irish Echo and the Spectrum at Sacred Heart University.
Josh said his grandparents were very active in East Rockaway, attending Board of Education and Parent Teacher Association meetings. They began the Observer so that they could keep residents informed about what was going on in the community, he added.
“It was the definition of a hometown paper,” Josh said. “It’s incredible to see and just hear about what the legacy was that they left, but after really reading through it and understanding the scope of what they did, it’s just so empowering, too, especially living in East Rockaway and being able to continue the traditions.”
In addition to his interest in community events, Warner was a big baseball fan. Josh recounted that his grandfather was one of the first Mets fans, latching onto the team when it was established in 1962 in the wake of the Giants and Dodgers moving to California. He even got to cover the 1986 World Series for the newspaper as the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games. In addition, Josh recalled, he was a Yankees hater.
“He waited for the Yankees to lose and for the Mets to get in good hands again,” Josh said with a laugh, referring to his grandfather dying after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs and the Mets signed a new manager.
According to Josh, Charles will also be remembered for his infectious laugh and for being young at heart. He said he drove until he was 91, and that in his 70s, he would ride his bike on the boardwalk and joke that he was “delivering meals-on-wheels to the old people.”
Charles was preceded in death by Jean, who had Parkinson’s disease, in 2007. Josh recalled that his grandfather took care of his grandmother around the clock before she died so that she could live in their home up until her death instead of having to stay in a hospital.
Charles is survived by his children Paula Vecchiarelli (Chris), Claudia Anderson (Karen Reitz), David (Joyce Parsons), Donna Carver (James), Melanie (Charles Vogel), Peter (Jean) and Thomas; 20 grandchildren; and six great grandchildren.
His memorial services were held at Donza Funeral Home in East Rockaway on Oct. 24, and his funeral Mass was Oct. 25 at St. Raymond Roman Catholic Church. It was followed by his Interment at Calverton National Cemetery in Wading River.
“He lived a very, very full life,” Josh said. “He did so much and influenced so many people that, it’s sad that he passed, but it also really is the epitome of a life we strive to live. … I think we all take a piece of what he left us.”