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John James "Big Butch" Charles, Jr.

May 9, 1944 June 16, 2019
John James "Big Butch" Charles, Jr.
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Obituary for John James "Big Butch" Charles, Jr.

John J. Charles, Jr. was born on May 9, 1944 in Newark, New Jersey to John J. Charles Sr. and Marilyn Charles (now known as Marilyn Carolina). He was raised by his grandparents, Murray & Geneva Charles, in Linden, New Jersey. John was nicknamed “Big Butch” by his grandmother to distinguish between him and his first cousin William Charles, Jr., known as “Little Butch”.

John was educated in the Linden Public School System and was a stellar football player, starring as a running back and linebacker. He was known as a force to be reckoned with and during his three seasons on the varsity team, the Linden Tigers only lost three games. During his senior year in 1963 he was heavily recruited by universities nationwide. After visiting various universities, he accepted a football scholarship from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. During his high school years John was known as a kind and gregarious teenager. All who knew him had glowing things to say about him. Also, during his senior year in 1963, John and his high school sweetheart, Charlotte Judy Wise, welcomed into the world a son, Kirk Anthony Charles.

At Purdue University, John was a three-year football letter winner as a defensive back for the Purdue Boilermakers from 1964 to 1966. He was regarded for his tenacity and aggressiveness on the field and given the honors of All-American in 1966. Although John suffered a separated shoulder during the 1966 regular season, he returned for one last game in 1967. He and fellow future professional footballers, Bob Greise, Sam Longmire and Leroy Keyes, lead the Boilermakers to victory over the USC Trojans in the Rose Ball in Pasadena, California. John stood out with 11 tackles and won the Rose Bowl MVP award in 1967. That same year he was also selected to the 1967 Senior Bowl, Chicago College All-Star Games and Coaches All-American Game.

John was selected in the first round of the 1967 National Football League draft by the Boston Patriots (No. 21 overall). He played three seasons for the Boston Patriots, one season for the Minnesota Vikings and four seasons for the Houston Oilers. During his years in Boston, John met Sandra Marie Fox in 1968. They nurtured a relationship and were married on December 31, 1971 in New York City. The two resided in Houston, Texas and welcomed into the world a son, Morgan Fox Charles (1974) and daughter, Cassandra Fox Charles (1976).

After retiring from professional football, John resided in Houston for the remaining 45 years of his life. He had an entrepreneurial spirit and operated several businesses during that time. John was also an avid cyclist, enjoyed reading and loved watching movies. Additionally, he was passionate about the healthcare and compensation given to former footballers of his generation.

The City of Linden recognized John’s High School and Collegiate athletic accomplishments by honoring him with a Testimonial Dinner on March 4, 1967. He was inducted into the Linden High School Hall of Fame in June 2007, and into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame in April 2015.

John was preceded in death by his grandparents, Murray and Geneva Charles; father, John J. Charles, Sr.; brother, Warren David Carolina (“Cal”); sister, Debra Carolina; and sister, Geneva (“Pepsi”) Charles.

He leaves to cherish fond memories by his children: Kirk, Morgan and Cassandra; granddaughter, Sophia Campbell; mother, Marilyn Carolina; brother, Ronald Carolina; former wife, Sandra Fox; and a host of extended family and friends.

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Memorial Service




2:00 PM 7/13/2019 2:00:00 PM
First Baptist Church

929 Dill Avenue
Linden, NJ 07036

First Baptist Church
929 Dill Avenue Linden 07036 NJ
United States

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