Charles J. Feeney, of Vineyard Haven and Sharon died peacefully at home on March 2, ending a long battle with cancer. He was 87.
Chuck was a man with a wonderful smile, a tremendous laugh, and a love for life that he shared with his friends and family. He was always the life of the party and left a lasting impression on all who knew him. A true visionary and entrepreneur, Chuck was a self-made man who would try his hand at anything. With his contagious enthusiasm, he was able to persuade his family and friends to join him on his many adventures. He loved to sail, play golf, go camping, and travel with his family.
Born in Boston on January 24, 1924, Chuck grew up in West Roxbury. He studied physics at Boston College before joining the Marine Corps in 1943. He was transferred to Villanova for officer’s training while continuing his studies in engineering. At the end of WWII, he completed his degree at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Chuck spent the next 18 years as an engineer/marketing manager in the military/aerospace field. Among his many projects, he worked closely with government agencies on cryogenic systems for the Atomic Energy Commission, as well as communication systems for the space program.
While working in Milwaukee, Chuck met the love of his life, Jeanne Schnieders. They returned to West Roxbury and married in 1949. Sailing in Chuck’s handmade boat, Whispering Winds, they honeymooned in Menemsha Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard.
Chuck and Jeanne bought land on the Vineyard for a retirement dream. The idea of a campground evolved gradually. But when the aerospace business was drastically curtailed, they decided to advance the timetable. Most of the dreaming, planning, and research was already on the drawing board.
In the spring of 1971, Chuck, along with Jeanne and their five teenage children, returned to the Island and, with the help of many friends, the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground was carved out of the woods. The first campers arrived in June of 1972. Now, nearly 40 years later, his dream continues and the campground is still owned and operated by the Feeney family. He made countless friends and memories along the way.
He leaves behind his beloved wife of 61 years, Jeanne; his sons Dan Feeney of Vineyard Haven, Jim Feeney of Harwich Port, Tom Feeney of Falmouth, Maine; his daughters Sue O’Rourke of Vineyard Haven, and Judy Shapiro and her husband, Carl, of Foxboro; his nine grandchildren, Brendan, Megan, Bryan, and Colin Feeney, Christian Feeney, Michael and Meaghan O’Rourke, Cory and Lindsay Shapiro. His sister, Barbara Feeney Powers, lives in Prescott, Ariz.
A private gathering was held at the family home in Sharon on Sunday, March 6. Memorial contributions may be made to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or a charity of your choice.