On May 7th, Charlie Viney died.
Those who never knew him would say, “So what, people die.”
But to the people of my hometown of Lackawanna, New York (a suburb of Buffalo) it’s a big deal. Charlie Viney was a big deal. Charlie was a big man. Big in stature, but also big in respect. And that respect carried a lot of responsibility which he accepted unwaveringly. Charlie had a big heart.
When you were in High School in Lackawanna and you needed a job, Charlie was the guy who connected you. A friend from the moment you met him, you didn’t want to get on his bad side (if he really had one) and if you did, he didn’t stay mad for long. Reading many of the tributes online in the past few days, a majority of people spoke of Charlie being their “first boss” The crew at McDonald’s on Ridge Road would change over through the years, but the constant that had the longest influence and tenure was Charlie Viney.
He had a voice that resounded, and a set of pipes that made you grin from ear to ear. Charlie could sing. He would regale you with songs from his youth, Do-Wop favorites and Soul music that had as much heart as the man who belted the songs. I remember hearing “Hey little girl in the High School sweater…” or “I feel like bustin’ loose…” the most. The latter elicits a smile in that the first time I heard him sing those lines, I thought Charlie was singing, “I feel like mushroom soup…” When I informed him of my error, Charlie laughed out loud. A large hearty laugh. A Charlie Viney laugh. From then out, when Charlie sang those lines, he sang, “I feel like mushroom soup…”
A son, a brother, a husband and father, a boss, a mentor and a friend, Charlie filled many shoes quite admirably. And like the rest of us, he was human. Charlie had his flaws; he fought his demons. But he was never far out of our thoughts and prayers. He was a good man among men. And the ladies also found favor in this gentle giant of a human being.
In his passing, we all join in remembering Charlie Viney. We hope he knew that we loved him very much. And that he will be greatly missed; his memory will be lasting.
We buried a friend today…
“I feel like mushroom soup…”