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  • Writer's picturePaige Onder

Charles - Former First Colonel

Updated: Jan 18

This post is part of "The Story Behind Hazleton," a senior project completed by Paige Onder, an Immanuel Christian School graduate from the class of 2023.

The same way that a cardboard box needs a firm foundation to serve a purpose - every family, every group, needs a dependable person to build itself upon. Charles works as a supervisor at a factory that produces corrugated boxes. But, beyond his job, Charles is a pillar within this community - and his family.

Growing up, Charles was raised in Weatherly, PA. He spent a majority of his childhood and adolescence there before joining the military at only seventeen years old. Charles describes his childhood as being short. By the time he was only sixteen years old, he was working full time in order to financially support his family.

Over the years, Charles has had a number of jobs and volunteer roles. From a young age, he became active in the community around him, his first serious position being a boy scout leader. He would go on to do a number of other things such as being an EMT, dishwasher, lifeguard, hotel maintenance man, sewage treatment operator, and a factory worker. While he currently works as a factory supervisor, he is also very active in his Church where he serves as an elder.

A big part of Charles’ life was his time in the army where he was in the reserves for 30 years. He did two tours in Iraq and was a first sergeant. Although he found the military to be strict, he described it as an eye-opening experience and said it gave him the chance to develop control over his own life. Throughout his life, one person he says changed him was a sergeant named Ronald Gerhart who helped him not only during his time in the military but also inspired him to be a good man, husband, and father to his children. Charles said something he learned through him is that, “Everyone makes mistakes, but a good man is distinguished by how he mitigates his bad decisions.”

Charles began working at his current company 29 years ago. The company that he works for specializes in making corrugated boxes for other companies. He started as a primary worker on the floor but has worked his way up through the company and is now a supervisor. When he began working, he worked 12 hour days, seven days a week.

Currently, some responsibilities he has as a supervisor include ensuring the safety of his crew, supervising production, training his crew, and managing shipping. Charles says that he enjoys the productivity of his job as well as the people he works with, but is always concerned about safety matters. Recently at his company someone from another part of the factory lost their lives to an accident while working, elevating this concern for him. Charles said, “We lost a fellow worker, but his family lost a husband, a father, a son.”

Despite his busy work schedule, Charles has become passionate about a number of things including fishing, hunting, trapping, and camping. The outdoors have become an outlet to relax while also learning more about the world around him. Above all, he holds a love for his dog, whom he describes as being one of his biggest supporters.

Although Chuck was not born or raised in Hazleton, he has spent the past three decades living here. One of his favorite parts of Hazleton is the convenience of having everything he needs located nearby. He says that in addition to the variety of activities in the area, he enjoys the progression he has seen within Hazleton.

The challenges we face throughout our lives do not need to be setbacks. Chuck experienced a number of adversaries within his professional and sadly, even family life. Despite these rough patches, Chuck was a successful 1st sergeant and is currently working at a local planet as a supervisor. Additionally, through his rough relationship with someone in his family, he has gone to be a kind and loving step father to his children. Charles shines as an example of moving forward no matter what challenges we come across in our lives.

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