Charlie, affectionately known as “Charlie Willie”, was born on April 16, 1931. He was the oldest of five children of the late Odelia Pace and the late Charlie W. Ferris. He grew up in the loving community of Salem, AL. At the young age of fifteen, he started working at the sawmill with his uncles. One day while working long and tireless, the boss approached the workers at the sawmill and said “I need someone to drive this new sawmill tractor to haul the large pieces of lumber”. Everyone appeared intimidated by the large lumber equipment truck with it’s new automation and was afraid to volunteer. Daddy, being the youngest there said, “I will drive it”. He jumped on the equipment, not even knowing how to shift gears, while his uncles cheered him on. He learned to be the best lumber hauler in Lee County, AL. This experience started his interest in driving and working on disassembled cars to get them to run.
Charlie received his early education in the Salem Lee County School System. Charlie received Christ after sitting on “The Mourner’s Bench”, which was described and used in the Methodist Church, as “an uncomfortable wooden bench made out of plain lumber with available wood from the saw mill”, no cushions were on the bench and it was meant to be hard! It symbolized the Old rugged cross and the bench’s purpose was for confession and repentance. Daddy said he couldn’t go to the altar and receive communion until he confessed his sins and changed his ways. After sitting on the bench many of Sundays, one day the spirit convicted him and his school mate and they both got up and walked down and confessed their sins during a revival and joined Church with the METHODIST CME church in Salem, AL. where his grandfather Joe Burt also attended, and where his spiritual development began. Because of the Methodist church’s only meeting on certain Sundays, he later joined in with the Pleasant View Baptist Church to attend services that he continued attending on throughout his adult life.
Finding employment was exceedingly difficult with good pay as well as pursuing his education in his hometown. Because of a grant awarded to Veterans who lack funds, he was able to enroll with Tuskegee vocational school in brick masonry. After completion of his studies, he was able to find employment and he proudly states that he ordered the bricks for his mother’s home house. He laid the brick foundation and he was also instrumental in laying the bricks at Pleasant View Baptist Church new renovations.
He united in holy matrimony to Fannie Kate Dunn, the apple of his eye, and to this union 4 beautiful daughters, Patricia Ann, Linda Marie, and twins, Joyce and Janice were born. After getting married, He entered the United States Army. While serving in the army, Patricia and Linda were born prior to his discharge. He enlisted in the army on December 9, 1952 so that he could continue to provide a better financial means for his family. Charlie Willie was inducted into active service in The United States Army. He drove himself and a friend down to Montgomery, AL to enlist. While in the army, his major courses studies were Auto Maintenance & mechanic. His most significant duty assignment while in the army was APO 973 Vehicle Inspector. He served in Foreign service which was the Korea war, and he earned Grade Rate Rank to CPL(T) corporate rank on the 25th of April in 1954. He was honorably discharged on October 27, 1954, and the following year his twins were born, Joyce and Janice Pace.
After receiving honorable discharge from the army, he and his family moved to Detroit Michigan, where he was employed with General Motors. Although this job was financially sound for him, Charlie was not able to adapt due to the excessive snow. He then decided to move back south to his old town in Salem, AL. Not being able to keep consistent employment in Salem, AL, he moved to Gadsden, AL to be closer to his children and to gain favor back with his separated wife. Being an entrepreneur in spirit, he pursued working on Television Electronic and gained employment working on televisions. He was able to provide his children their first television set to be placed into the living room of their home while living in Gadsden, AL. While in Gadsden, he furthered his training into Auto Mechanic and later, through hard work, he was able to start his own business, “Charlie’s Garage Service”. He was known to be one of the best auto mechanics in Gadsden, AL and many people sought after him for his services.
As the years progressed, his health began to fail him in which he suffered from diabetes and eye problems, as well as Glaucoma. He was transferred to Phenix City Nursing home to stabilize himself. but he didn’t like staying there at the Nursing Home, so he was invited to live with his daughter, Joyce, and son-in law, John Wesley, and to be closer to his other children. He was always so happy visiting with Patricia, Linda, Joyce and Janice, and their spouses and children, Juke, and Rodger, his brother, Joe Ferris, and his sister, Freddie Ruth. We kept him on the move taking him to many family functions, sharing meals, back and forth from Georgia to Alabama and he didn’t miss a beat. He later moved to the Colonel Rebert L Howard VA home in Pell City, AL where his children continued to provide visitation and phone calls to him and for him to his family members in different states. He departed this life while he was a resident at the VA home on Friday morning, June 4th, 2020. Daddy was an easy going spirit; he was very humble and always ending a visit with “Thank you all for coming by”. He loved the Lord and knew how to call on His name.
Charlie was preceded in death by his parents, Odelia Pace and Charlie W. Ferris, his sister, Myrtice Wilson, and his brother, Ed Pace.
Charlie Willie and Fannie Kate Pace-Suttle leave to cherish their life and legacy, four daughters, Patricia Ann Harvey (Richard L Harvey), College Park, Ga, Linda Marie (Marcus Lafon Mason) Gadsden, Al, Joyce Stephens (John Wesley Stephens), Dallas, Ga, and Janice Pace Carlisle, Gadsden, Al,; Charlie Willie and Mary Helen leave to cherish, two daughters, Mary Jane, "Juke" (Roger Jones), Betty Joyce, Opelika Al; one brother, Joe Ferris, Opelika, Al, and one sister, Freddie Ruth Fierison (Fred) in Detroit, MI; grandchildren, Amina Harvey, Tomekia Johnson, Richard L. Harvey II (Adrian), Patrick Harvey, Wesley Stephens, Marcus L Mason (Dana), and Maurice Carlisle; a host of loving nieces, nephews, cousins and great grandchildren, and other relatives and friends.
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