Following a six-year battle with emphysema and congestive heart failure, Charles N. Denman, Delavan’s former mayor, passed away at 11:40am on Monday, October 26, 2020, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist in Peoria.
He was born on October 24, 1938, in Pekin the son of Charles Wesley and Anna Christine Nelson Denman. He celebrated his eighty-second birthday in the hospital Saturday with a birthday cake furnished by the nurses.
He attended Delavan schools, graduating from Delavan Community High School with the class of 1956. Following graduation, he enlisted in the United States Navy, leaving with the infamous All Peoria Unit for basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station in Waukegan. Delavan friends and classmates, Richard Peter, Bill Gibbs and Kenneth Himes enlisted with him. His long-time friend, Jack Allgood, was to have gone also, however, he was involved in an automobile accident a few days before they were to report and did not get to go. Charles served aboard the Bonhomme Richard during the Suez Canal crisis and was discharged in 1959.
Charles married Sandra Kay Larimore on November 3, 1962, at the Delavan Baptist Church, and they were to celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary on November 3, 2020.
Two daughters, Tammara Marie (Kevin T.) Hill of West Peoria and Trudy Marlene (Christopher Verne) Schaffner of Delavan survive, along with five granddaughters, Charley Grace Schaffner (named for grandpa), Alysandra Kay Pearl Hill, Claire Annabella Schaffner, Chloe Annastacia Schaffner, and Aeryn Alycia Marie Hill; three grandsons, Kyle Hill, Kameron Hill, Christopher Blake Schaffner; one great-granddaughter, Willow Jean Schaffner, one foster grandson, Fabian Ryans, Jr., three sisters-in-law, Sharon Jolene Larimore, Nelda Weber, Kristin (James) Parisi; one brother-in-law, Kerry Larimore; three nieces, Stacey Weber (Lauro), Christine Christensen, and Linda Christensen; five nephews, Martin Christensen, Tory Weber, Daraka Larimore-Hall, (Hillary Blackerby), Jared Parisi, and Dominic Parisi; and great nieces Payton Bayless and Shaye Lauro, and great nephews, Zak Bayless, Nick Lauro, Keaton Lauro, Matt Perry (Lindsey) and Andrew Christensen; cousins and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his only sibling, Marlene Christensen; his brother-in-law, Clare Christensen and a great niece, Abbey Christensen.
His children and grandchildren were very special to him and he enjoyed being with them and attending their school events and dance recitals. He enjoyed taking his daughters and grandchildren to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and an annual trip to the Illinois State Fair. He especially enjoyed it when they would come for an overnight visit or just come for breakfast so he could make them bacon and waffles. The other favorite thing he made for the family was his famous popcorn popped in bacon grease.
He loved gardening and just being outside. He always fed the birds and enjoyed watching them. He was very patriotic and proud to be a veteran.
He collected NASCAR racing cars and Delavan Memorabilia and had shown his Delavan collection several times at the Community Historical Society.
Charles began his working career helping his father with the gravel pit business. While in high school, he worked at the Bil-Lu Soda Bar, for his future father-in-law, where he learned to “make the best chocolate sodas in the world.” At least that is what his neighbor and friend, Helen McKinstry, a world traveler used to say. He went to work at Keystone Steel and Wire Company in Bartonville after returning home from the service and worked 44 years, retiring in 2004.
He was a member of the Delavan United Methodist Church. He had been a charter member of the Delavan Jaycees and a member of the Delavan Booster Club. He was a member of the Delavan Historical Society and had served as its president for several terms. He served on the Ayer Public Library District board and was a member of the Delavan Alumni Association.
For many years, Charles and his brother-in-law, Clare Christensen, raised Satin breed rabbits in their rabbitry named, “CC Satins.”
He served as an alderman for Ward 2 of the Delavan City Council for 26 years and two terms as mayor, but in 2005 decided not to seek a third term because he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren. He loved the Delavan community and always had the interest of the Delavan people at heart. While serving as mayor, and with the cooperation of the Delavan Restoration Society, the Third Street Bridge, after being closed for several years due to an accident, was reopened and people could once again, “drive the loop.” Then Governor George Ryan came to Delavan for the bridge reopening ceremony. As mayor, he wrote a popular column for The Delavan Times, entitled “Around The Town With Charlie” to keep the people of the community apprised of what was going on in their little city.
He served as a reporter and photographer for The Delavan Times and took the newspaper to Havana for printing every Tuesday for many years.
He and Sandra were members of a “potluck” group which met for over 40 years one Saturday night a month to enjoy a meal and Pinochle.
As a member of the Delavan Historical Society, he worked with the Civil War Re-enactments held for several years and he assisted Glenn Holmes with the firing of the G.A.R. Triangle Cannon several times a year. He also worked on the committee to publish the 2012 Delavan History Book.
Charles began coaching his daughters in softball when they were old enough to play T-Ball. He sponsored a travel team at one time and continued to coach until his daughters were no longer playing Women’s Major Fast Pitch. He and George Day coached several Delavan teams together over the years.
He was a great fan of auto racing, both Indy Car and NASCAR. He and Sandra traveled across the United States for NASCAR races, the last time in 2012, when they took a once in a lifetime train trip to California in Celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.
He loved Delavan and its people and often said he grew up in the, “best years ever- and never wanted to live anywhere else.”
Due to CoVid-19 restrictions, a private family graveside service will be held at Prairie Rest Cemetery on Friday October 30th. For those who wish to honor Charles you may line Locust Street during the procession. The funeral procession will leave from the Davis-Oswald funeral home in Delavan at 1:45pm traveling south on Locust Street to the G.A.R. Triangle, to 8th street and then to the cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Delavan Township Park District at PO Box 590 Delavan Illinois 61734 or the Delavan Community Historical Society at PO Box 643, Delavan, IL 61734.
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