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Chuck's Story

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INDIANAPOLIS - Charles Marion Buchenberger, 76, of Indianapolis, passed away Thursday, June 1, 2017, while at home at Crestwood Village North. Chuck, as he was commonly known, was born on Feb. 11, 1941, in Washington, the oldest of three children, to Ray and Marguerite (nee Coleman) Buchenberger.

His sister, Julia Wratten (Naples, Florida) survives, while his brother, Dan Buchenberger, just recently preceded him in death. Chuck leaves behind his loving son Erik Buchenberger, Erik's wife Christa and their two children, Jack Henry and Elle Madeleine, who were a source of great pride and joy to their "Gramps." He is also survived by Nancy Waite, his ex-wife and Erik's mother, with whom Chuck continued an enduring and cordial friendship. He also shared a lifelong friendship with his brother-in-law Tom Wratten (Naples, Florida) and was close to nephews Dan Wratten (Overland Park, Kansas) and Robert Wratten (Leesburg, Virginia).

Chuck, a gifted conversationalist, was a man with many friends who adored and respected him; keeping his company was a pleasure. His friendships spanned the decades, as he was very conscientious about holding on to the people he loved. Receiving a card in the mail from Chuck was always something to treasure. Possessed of a quick wit, Chuck enjoyed regaling his friends with his many stories, both funny and poetic, and was especially fond of his years growing up in Washington, where the Buchenbergers forged lasting friendships, especially with their neighbors, the Chickedantzes.

After graduating from Washington High School, Chuck attended Hanover College, initially to study the ministry, but other distractions, especially Churchill Downs across the river, compelled him to reassess his academic track. As only Chuck could describe, if he was going to preach about sin, he needed to study it. Soon thereafter he transferred to Indiana University to pursue studies in history and political science.

The son of Main Street merchants, Chuck grew up working in Buchenberger's Bookstore and ultimately made a career in retail as a men's clothier. Chuck was well known for his sense of style and sold suits for many years at Roderick St. John's and other haberdasheries. He had a passion for small, high-service retail, and he liked to joke that were he ever to have a gravestone, its inscription should simply say: Never been to Wal-Mart.

While Chuck was a reliable source of good humor and goodwill, what was most impressive about the man was what you never saw: self-pity. He faced considerable medical challenges throughout his life. As a child, he survived a diagnosis of polio, only to contract blood cancer, which rendered him a full-leg amputee as a teenager. As an adult, he battled ankylosing spondylitis, which eventually fused his entire spine. Chuck never complained. He possessed a fierce stoicism that his loved ones came to regard as nothing less than heroic.

Chuck was also a man who exhibited an abiding sense of social justice. Much inspired by the civil rights movement, and well versed in history and literature, Chuck kept a close eye on current affairs and was especially keen as to their effect on Indiana. A lifelong reader of The Indianapolis Star, he was a frequent contributor to its Letters to the Editor, leading him to quip: "Someday, the editors at The Star will no doubt be relieved when they finally receive my obit instead of another op-ed!"

Chuck was an avid sports fan, especially of IU and Butler basketball, but his ultimate devotion lay with his beloved Cubs. He joked over the years that he could never die until the Cubs won the World Series. Family and friends were concerned when the Cubs finally prevailed, but Chuck gladly responded with one word: "Repeat!" The Cubs didn't play the day Chuck died; the day after, they snapped their six-game losing streak in a series opener at home against the dreaded Cards. We choose to believe they did so in honor of Chuck's undying loyalty.

In retirement, Chuck could indulge the pleasures of family and friends with greater frequency. He was much involved in the activities of his grandchildren, and would visit his sister Julia during summers at Grand Lake in Oklahoma and winters in Naples, Florida, where Chuck, as he did everywhere, made even more friends who treasured his company. He enjoyed the community at Crestwood Village North, and always looked forward to his lunches with friend Nick Brown. He even realized his dream of traveling to Europe and taking in the sights and sounds of Paris. Chuck was wonderful in all the ways he touched people with a sense of communion.

As were Chuck's wishes, there will be no funeral services. Instead, family and friends are planning a celebration to be held later. It will be a remembrance of the man we dearly loved and will truly miss.
Published on June 7, 2017
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