Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Charles M. Painter, 103
Charles Merle Painter was born in a sod house in Keya Paha County, Neb., on May 31, 1905. He was the first of two sons born to J.B. and Ida Page Painter. When Charles was school age, the family moved to South Dakota to homestead in Tripp County where he began a life long love of the land. His deep interest in agriculture led him to South Dakota State University where he majored in agriculture education. He graduated in 1928. In 1940, he earned his Masters Degree from the University of Minnesota. Beginning his teaching career in Lane, S.D., Charles taught several subjects and also coached varsity basketball. In his first year of coaching, his team won the county championship. It was in Lane that he met and courted Lillian Bentley. Charles and Lillian were married on June 16, 1931 in Twin Valley, Minn. and established their first home in Kenmare, N.D. A daughter, Lavonne, was born in 1932. In succeeding years, Charles taught in Lennox, S.D. and Belle Plaine, Minn. A second daughter, Colleen, was born in 1937. In 1941, Charles took a break from teaching and went to work for the federal government in the Farm and Home Administration, assisting farmers who needed loans. He worked in Wabasha, Rochester, Pine Island, and Mahnomen, Minn. In the fall of 1943, he entered military service. Being 38 years old, only the Seabees would accept him; he enlisted as a petty officer and served on Tinian, Saipan and Okinawa until he was discharged in the fall of 1945. After the war in 1946, Charles was hired by the Austin Public Schools to teach farming to veterans returning to school under the G.I. Bill. Over the years, the program became so successful that three more instructors were needed to meet the demand. When the G.I. Bill expired, Charles developed the Farm Analysis program in the Austin area in cooperation with the University of Minnesota. Several hundred Minnesota farmers have benefited and continue to benefit from this service. Charles retired in 1970 having taught for 37 years. In addition to being active in the First United Methodist Church for over 60 years, he has been a member of Toastmasters, the Golden Age Kiwanis, the FFA alumni, past president of the Austin Retired Teachers and one of the first men in Austin to join the League of Women Voters. For several years, he also mentored a young boy through the Kinship Program. A man of profound integrity, Charles was given 103 productive years and his family gives thanks for his active life.
He is survived by his daughters; Dr. Lavonne Painter, Atlanta, Calif. and Colleen (Dale) Bartley, Pacentia, Calif.; two grandchildren, Dr. Scott Bartley (Dr. Julie) Carrollton, Ga. and Dr. Susan Griffin, Corona, Calif.; great-grandson, Bruce Charles Bartley; he also leaves a large extended family.
His parents, his brother, and Lillian, his dear wife of 68 years preceded Charles in death.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 7, at 2:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church with the Reverend Patricia M. Toschak officiating. There will be no visitation or reviewal. There will be a private interment at Grandview Cemetery. Clasen-Jordan Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Memorials are preferred to First United Methodist Church of Austin, American Farmland Trust or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.