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Chuck Kuwahara, 59, of Halfway, Oregon died Thursday, February 21, 2019 at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. A Celebration of life and potluck will be held on Saturday April 27, 2019~3 p.m. at the Halfway Lions Hall.
Charles “Chuck” Walter was born to his mother Elaine and her first husband January 2, 1960 in Salem, Oregon. His parents divorced when he was still quite young. Elaine then married Fred Kuwahara who raised Chuck as his own son and formally adopted when Chuck was 9. He was raised in Vale, Oregon. As a young man, he enjoyed his time with his Uncle Marvin who taught him how to make chili. Chuck was in a stage band and a Jazz band and played the bass guitar in both. He graduated from Vale High School in 1978. Chuck attended Treasure Valley Community College in 1980 where he attained his Associates Degree. He continued his education at Oregon State University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in both Language Arts and Social Studies. Chuck had initially worked to attain a degree in geology. However, that changed after a professor at OSU tried to get him to flunk out. This experience is what led Chuck to pursue teaching, so that he would become a better teacher then he ever had.
Chuck met his wife Brenda Ghrist on a blind date their mutual friend had set up. He was 45 minutes late because he had played a game of horseshoes and had gone home to shower. This was a habit that Chuck never grew out of, he was never on time anywhere- ever. Luckily for Chuck, by the second date Brenda was enamored by his sense of humor and decided Chuck was the man for her. They were married August 14, 1989 in Winnemucca, Nevada.
Chuck became a father in 1986 when his daughter Sylvia “Sylveeney” was born and again in 1990, when his son Jacob “Boy Child” entered the world. He was a proud dad who enjoyed taking his kids hunting and was with them when each filled their first buck tag. If the kids got injured he would quote “It’s merely a flesh wound” or “It’ll stop hurting when you’re married”. Jacob said, “My favorite thing about him was his sense of humor and his laugh, it was so infectious”.
Chuck had a love for the outdoors. Consequently, this love is what drew him to Halfway, Oregon. His friend, Gene Bates, had heard through the grapevine that Pine Eagle High School was hiring and encouraged Chuck to go after the teaching position. He was hired in 1985 and became both a beloved English and History Teacher. Chuck was known to his students as Mr. K, Kuwie, or Kuwahara. Mr.K was a fun, inspiring and passionate teacher. He said, “If I can make a difference in just one kid, then I have done my job.” Often he required his students to memorize various quotes, many of which his former students can still recall today. He was empathetic and sometimes books, quotes, or stories could bring him to tears. Mr. K. would play guitar in class on special days and could with his wit, challenge his students to dig a little deeper or to try a little harder. He loved teaching with his whole heart and achieved his goal of making a positive impact. Chuck retired in 2015, but he never passed up an opportunity to teach a life lesson or philosophize when he got the chance.
On November 13, 2017 Chuck suffered a stroke. He was frustrated because he knew so much language and articulation and yet, he could not get it out. This hindrance drove Chuck to fight and to work hard to recover. His speech therapist was so impressed by Chuck’s perseverance that she eventually told him she could do no more. Chuck said the stroke taught him to appreciate the little things and not to take one day for granted, “Carpe Diem”.
Chuck enjoyed getting fire wood with his faithful dog Frapkin. His hobbies included whittling wood, making wooden canes, walking sticks and wall art. He would find pieces of wood, sand them down and allow the natural colors and shapes to come out on their own. He would then add strips of leather of gems, rocks, or arrowheads.
Chuck relished huckleberry and mushrooming picking, collecting copious amount of hats, watching and laughing to “The Big Lebowski and Monty Python”. He appreciated good music and loved to play the guitar and sing along. A favorite song he’d play was “Seven Spanish Angels” by Willie Nelson. Chuck treasured Spring break trips with his family that included exploring the Oregon Coast, Yellowstone and Mesa Verde’. He adored and especially loved playing with his beautiful grandkids.
Chuck was preceded in death by his brother Nic Kuwahara.
He is survived by his wife Brenda of 29 years; daughter Sylvia and her husband Dustin Gratiot; son Jacob and wife Chelsea Kuwahara; parents Fred and Elaine Kuwahara of Vale, Oregon; sister Teresa and her husband Bryan Bitting of Boise, Idaho; grandchildren Harper, Olivia, and Hudson Gratiot.
For those would like to make a donation in memory of Chuck the family suggests either Creating Memories (organization that connects children and adults with nature to create memories) or the American Heart Association through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services PO Box 543 Halfway, Oregon 97834. The family requests stories of Chuck be shared to firstname.lastname@example.org Online condolences can be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com