We all start our life with a blank page that is waiting to be written, and on Oct. 9, 1925, Charles Mitchell Phinney started what would eventually turn out to be an award-winning novel.
A novel that would be filled with family, fun, military service, work, community involvement, many life lessons, service, hardships, strength, courage, intrigue, antics, hijinks and shenanigans, but most of all love, laughter, leadership and true legacy.
Although his novel came to a conclusion after 95 years on Oct. 27, 2020, the epilogue to his story will be carried on due to the impact he had on his family, friends and neighbors. There are many people who are known in their community. He was not only known, he was known and respected. He never missed a chance to help a friend or a stranger when they needed anything.
Growing up he took every opportunity to create what would later affectionately be called “memories,” but his parents probably referred to them as “situations.” He was always finding ways to make people laugh and shake their head. He continued this way of life long after becoming a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. This gave his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren great delight in listening to his escapades. His stories were always interesting and usually the grandkids and great-grandkids would burst out laughing while our parents would say “now do NOT do that at home”!
Later in life, he began to share some other stories of his time in the service, something that he rarely did as a younger man. Many of these stories came out during morning coffee as he and his grandson-in-law remembered their time in the Army.
The time he spent in service to his country was something he was very humble about and a true testament to the kind of man he was. His strength of character, fortitude and tenacity was something he carried with him all his life, not just his time in the service. To be able to participate in Honor Flight of Maine made such an impression on him and brought full circle much of what he carried with him his whole life.
No matter what chapter of life he was in he lived it to the fullest and never let ANYTHING slow him down or stop him, even losing his leg when he was still a young man.
He also never did anything part way. After he retired from working for Bridge Construction for 18 years, and being the owner of Phinney’s Exxon for 21 years, he and Madelyn were still just as busy as ever. They didn’t even slow down when they were able to start spending winters in Florida.
From his military service, where he served in World War II and then Korea, to his community involvement and most of all his family, he always went above and beyond.
This is evident by his many accomplishments of which his family is so proud: The Silver Star, Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge (two awards) Good Conduct Medal, European Service Medal, Korean Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Korean Services Medal, National Defense Medal; a 75-year membership in Pleiades Lodge No. 173 in Milbridge; a longstanding membership in the Scottish Rites; a longtime member of the Order of the Eastern Star; and a longtime member of the Milbridge Merchants Association, just to name a few.
But if you asked him what his greatest accomplishment was, he would say it was his family. He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Madelyn, who was not only the love of his life and partner but also his soul mate, daughter Linda Willey and husband, Wayne, of Milbridge, son Woodrow “Woody” Phinney of Norridgewock; grandchildren Charemon Davis and husband, Rick, of Cherryfield, Scott Phinney of Bowie, Md., Wanese Lynch and husband, Chuck, of Ellsworth, Bob Phinney of Clinton, Md., and Travis Willey and wife, Nicole, of Milbridge.
He had eight great-grandchildren, Austin Ronco, Abby Lynch, Logan Staples, Cole Willey, Madelyn Willey, Aaron Lynch, Sophia Lynch and Charles Willey, plus many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents, Gertrude “Nana Gert” and Winfield Phinney, sisters Mabel Thibeau and Norma Monsulick and his brother Irving Phinney and twin Winfield Phinney.
A celebration of life will be held at the Wreaths Across America Gym in Columbia Falls on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to: Wyman Methodist Church, Attn: Dale Woodward, 1622 U.S. Highway 1, Gouldsboro, ME 04607 or Pleiades Lodge No. 173, 13 Bridge St., Milbridge, ME 04658.