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Community remembers trustee, teacher, mother Charlene Carlson

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December 23, 2009 - Brandon Twp.- Charlene Carlson was remembered Tuesday as a proud Irish woman who never gave up and was dedicated to her community.

The township trustee and retired Brandon School District teacher, died Dec. 22.

She was 70.

"She was a pretty great lady," said friend Ruth Rogan. "She never gave up on stuff, she was so active with her family and the township. She was a great neighbor and a good friend. She was so well-known in the community, it will be hard for everybody, not just me."

Rogan and her husband, Tom, were neighbors of Charlene and her husband, Art Carlson, in Detroit. Charlene was a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools for seven years. The Carlsons and Rogans moved out to the township in the early 70s, purchasing adjoining properties to build on.

Charlene took several years off from teaching to raise her children, Katie and Tom, but in January 1989, was hired by now retired Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School Principal Don Patrick. She resumed her career, teaching sixth grade in the district.

"She was a marvelous, marvelous educator," said Patrick. "Her creativity and energy, you could see it."

Patrick recalls the time he walked into Charlene's classroom and found her wearing a rabbit costume. When he asked her what she was doing, she told him she was trying to bring the character in her poetry lesson to life, that she had to motivate the kids. Her love for theater, drama and especially language arts helped her convince Patrick to create a 10-week mini-class exposing all sixth graders to drama and art.

She researched lighting and sound systems for the stage at the intermediate school to maximize budgeted improvements. Charlene, Patrick said, also worked tirelessly on the annual farewell party for the sixth-graders, and was very involved in the retirement party for former Superintendent Joy Holler. Charlene retired from teaching in 2000, but continued to help Patrick with the community's annual senior Thanksgiving dinner until he retired in 2006.

Charlene was appointed to the Board of Review in 1985 and served until 1990. She also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals from 1987-2000 and was elected as a township trustee in 2000. She was in the midst of her third term.

"She always had the best interests of the township in mind," said Clerk Jeannie McCreery, who served the past nine years with Charlene on the board. "She volunteered for committees and was a very hardworking member of the board. She was very loved in this community and it will be very difficult to replace her."

Supervisor Kathy Thurman called Charlene an extremely dedicated trustee, always willing to serve in any way possible for the betterment of the community.

"She will be greatly missed by all," Thurman said. "I enjoyed working with her tremendously."

Charlene was an active member of St. Anne Catholic Church, the Ortonville Community Historical Society, and was a Friend of the Library.

She was the devoted wife of Arthur Carlson; beloved mother of Katie Beauchamp of Ortonville and Thomas (Nickole) Carlson of Goodrich; loving grandmother of Brandon, Kaitlyn, Ryan, Thomas and Chance; sister of Margaret (Ray) Russell of Highland and Sharon (Tony) Skwiers of Warren. Also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.

A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 10 a.m., Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 at St. Anne Catholic Church, 825 S. Ortonville Rd., Ortonville. Interment will be at Great Lakes National Cemetery. Family will receive friends from 1-9 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 27, with a Rosary at 7 p.m. at Coats Village Funeral Home, Sherman-Wilk Chapel, Ortonville. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Anne Catholic Church, U of D Mercy or the Brandon Education Fund. Envelopes are available at the funeral home. To send a private condolence to the family, go to

www.coatsfuneralhome.com and select guestbook.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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