Charles Leighton Jr. passed into rest peacefully on Feb. 27 at Windemere Nursing Home with his family at his side.
Charlie was born in Oak Bluffs on Nov. 21, 1922, the son of Capt. Charles Leighton and Florence Mae (Jackson) Leighton of Edgartown. Charlie attended the Edgartown Schools and graduated from the Edgartown High School in June 1940. He attended the Huntington School for Boys in Boston for two years graduating in June 1942.
He attended the University of Maine in Orono where he studied chemical engineering and botany. His college career was cut short by World War II.
Charlie enlisted into the Marines in February of 1943. He served as a radioman with the Signal Corps of the 2ND Division and worked closely with the Navajo "Code Talkers" in the Pacific Theater. He helped set up communication systems on the islands in the Pacific from Guadalcanal in the Solomons to Nagasaki, Japan, including Palau, Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Peleliu and Leyte in the Philippines. While on the island of Saipan, after being away from home for almost two years, he ran into several friends from home, including Bob Rudolph, Don "Snooky" Ward, Jack Enos, and his own brother, Sam. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, he was sent to the devastated city where he spent several months securing the area. He was honorably discharged from military service in February 1946.
After his return to civilian life, he worked several jobs before marrying Shirley Ruth Selby of Warwick, R.I. The couple moved to Rhode Island where Charlie worked at a foundry with his brother-in-law and dear friend Frank Hewins. After their third son was born, he moved his family back to Edgartown and worked as a mason before taking a position as deputy chief of police for the Edgartown Police Department. He became chief and retired after 18 years of service.
After retirement, Charlie enjoyed spending time with family, helping his neighbors, scalloping, gardening, following the Boston sports leagues and walking his beloved dog, "Willie." He had many friends and acquaintances who knew him simply as Charlie or Beaver.
Survivors include his wife, Shirley Leighton; son Raymond and wife Patti of Oak Bluffs, son Charlie and his wife Susan of Guilford, Conn., son Gary and his wife Betsy of Lewisburg, Pa., and daughter Joanne and son David of Edgartown. He is also survived by his brother Sam and his wife Nancy, sister Sarah (Sally) Frasier of Edgartown, sister Stella (Peach) and her husband Arthur Dawley of Preston, Conn; grandchildren Erin, Abby, Emily, Brett, Jenna, Aaron, and Ryan, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by a brother-in-law, Robert Frazier.
A burial service will be held on Sat., March 15, at 11 am at the Federated Church on S. Summer Street in Edgartown, and will be officiated by the Rev. Gerry Fritz. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Windemere Nursing Home, P.O. Box 1747, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or to the American Legion Post 186, P.O. Box 2131, Edgartown, MA 02539.
Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, located on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs. Visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.