I’M HAVING MY BEST DAY SINCE YESTERDAY – CHARLES V. (CHUCK) POETTKER
Charles V. (Chuck) Poettker Service: July 24, 2021
Good afternoon. Most of you know me, but if not, I am Keith Charles Poettker, Chuck’s second oldest son. On behalf of our family, we would like to extend our gratitude to everyone that is here today and for those who have sent their condolences, prayers and thoughts of support and encouragement. We have received thousands of phone calls, emails, texts, social media posts and personal visits and if we have not responded personally to you yet, please know that we have read each one and will respond back in due time. Our father connected with so many people on such a personal level and truly showed them how much he cared, respected and loved them with both his time and actions. He was such an extraordinary man, a great leader, an impeccable mentor, a caring father, grandfather, brother, son and loving husband. He will obviously be missed by many, but we can all find comfort knowing he lived a full and impactful life cherishing it each and every day and now he is in a better place looking over us as we move his legacy forward.
To his wife, Linda, he absolutely adored and loved her, spending passionate, quality time with her and always being attentive to her interests and needs. To his grandchildren, I can’t really describe how much joy and affection he had for each and every one of you. When you came around, everything dropped so he could say hi and ask how you were doing. For example, if we scheduled a meeting during his haircuts with his grandsons, he would decline the meeting and we would have to reschedule it, no matter how important or urgent the meeting was for the business. To his sons and daughter, he was an exemplar role model, a mentor, a guiding light and someone that cared deeply for us and thru his actions showed us how to build relationships and treat people with respect and dignity. To his siblings, he was a caring, stalwart brother that always provided guidance and impeccable leadership to the Poettker family. To his mother, he was a loving son that would sing songs with her while she prepared meals in the kitchen and in her later years a son that would bring her to church and take her out for dinner at her favorite restaurant afterwards. To his employees, he was revered and loved because of the connections and impactful relationships he built with them. To his friends, neighbors and fellow boaters, he was a gracious man with a positive attitude towards life, an inspiration to others and a man that would always spark a conversation to learn more about you and grow the relationship. Dad enjoyed entertaining and absolutely loved going out to restaurants for dinner and conversation. There were many occasions where us kids didn’t want to take the time for a several hour meal. The speed of life was pulling us in different directions. Dad would politely say that he had already made reservations and it was understood that you were in for the occasion.
I often wondered what led Dad to take such a positive attitude toward life even during adversity. Why was he always having his best day since yesterday and did he actually mean it? Why did he always take so much time to connect with people? It finally sunk in 18 years ago. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. In 2003 our business was going thru some serious challenges and hemorrhaging every month. We lost our bank line of credit, had no bonding capacity and had anywhere from 3 to 6 months of cash before we would be forced into bankruptcy. Dad and I were sitting on his deck one night discussing these challenges and I asked him how he was able to handle this without appearing to be stressed out over it. He said and I quote… “When you experience the hell on earth that war is it gives you a different perspective on life. You still will have challenges, but everything gets put into a little bit of different perspective and you view it with a different lens.” He went on to say that he considered himself very fortunately to be alive and be able to go thru this challenge with us. You see, on June 9th, 1971, dad escaped death. As many of you read, one of the individuals in his unit stepped on a land mine. Three men in dad’s unit were killed outright including dad’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Dalton. A West Point graduate, Lt. Dalton, was dad’s role model, a mentor to everyone in his unit, he was a husband and he had just found out that his wife had a baby boy, and he was going to be a father. Lt. Dalton was the greatest leader that my dad had ever met in his lifetime and that is saying something because he’s met some extraordinary individuals. Unbeknownst to dad at that time, Lt. Dalton had completed the official and full account of dad’s heroic actions in Laos in April of 1971 and was recommending dad receive the U.S. Armed Forces Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement in a combat zone. Dad would indeed receive this medal as a result of Lt. Dalton’s full account of his actions.
Back to June 9th, 1971, the trail they were following bent around a fairly large tree and dad was on the other side of this tree when the land mine blew. The concussive force of the blast blew dad about 5 yards out, but the tree protected him from getting hit with shrapnel. Disoriented and confused, dad was tasked with locating and retrieving a medical care kit to care for the wounded. Dad laid his M60 machine gun down and ran a ½ mile unarmed thru enemy territory to retrieve a medical kit. He retrieved the kit and ran that same ½ mile back thru enemy territory to care for the wounded. After recovering the bodies so that they could be properly honored back in the states by their loved ones he began praying The Lord’s Prayer. He asked God if there was a way to get him out of here alive, he would dedicate his life to building something of value.
I think we all can agree that 50 years later he did just that…In every aspect of his life he built something of value and has left a lasting legacy for us to carry forward. So, that is why he was always having his best day since yesterday and yes, he meant it every time he said it. I’m not quite there to be able to say that phrase but I hope with time, healing and prayer, I will get to that point. This past week, on Wednesday, July 21st, dad was honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives with a speech by Congressman Mike Bost as a testament to the legacy he leaves behind. Saturday, July 17th was the most difficult and challenging time of my family’s life, but we will move forward in his honor, and he will be remembered and celebrated on this day going forward.
I love you dad and thank you so much for everything you’ve done for our family.
Speaking on behalf of the entire Poettker family,
Keith C. Poettker