Charles B. Packard ’57 died on November 27, 2020 in Camden, Maine.
(The following was published by the Bangor Daily News on December 2, 2020)
Charles Bartlett Packard, 85, of Camden, was at home with his family when he passed away on November 27, 2020, after several years of declining health. Born in Arlington, MA, on March 26, 1935, to Kenneth and Helen (Moakley) Packard, Charles was raised in Lexington, MA, with three older siblings and a large extended family. Charles graduated from Lexington High School, received a BA in Classics from Bowdoin College (his father’s alma mater), and then obtained a Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard University (his brother’s alma mater). In both high school and college, Charles was an athlete as well as a member of various musical clubs, in which he sang and played the piano and the guitar. At Bowdoin, Charles joined the Chi Psi fraternity to which his father also belonged, and he remained forever loyal to that organization. When his schooling was complete, Charles went on to teach Latin and coach basketball, football, and tennis at Middlesex School and Phillips Academy, Andover.
Although Charles was passionate about teaching, he also greatly enjoyed writing, having established a popular satirical column for his college newspaper and having published analyses and translations in academic journals. Thus, he decided to become an editor as well as an author of language arts textbooks for Random House, McGraw Hill, and D.C. Heath. Charles made this career change upon marrying (Joan) Pamela Gilson, and the couple settled in Manhattan where their daughter, Amy, was born. Not long thereafter, the family relocated to Westport, CT, where they remained for about 15 years. During that time, Charles started his own company called Instruction Systems Incorporated, allowing him to stop commuting to Manhattan and be present for his daughter’s school and extracurricular activities.
After living in Connecticut, Charles wanted to return to what he considered “real New England” (and back to the territory of his beloved professional sports teams, especially the Red Sox), so when the opportunity arose in 1987, the family moved to Camden. He did not know at the time that he was near his forebears’ stomping grounds; his German ancestors arrived in Waldoboro in the mid-eighteenth century and some of his Irish ancestors emigrated to Thomaston about a century later. Charles set about restoring, with a lot of help, an 1830 house that stole his heart. He also began writing opinion pieces and columns for the Portland Press Herald, the Bangor Daily News, and the Camden Herald/Village Soup. The writing project that brought Charles the most joy was his completion of a rhymed translation of The Praise of Folly, written in Latin by the Renaissance author Desiderius Erasmus. To his great delight, Charles eventually returned to teaching, this time in a volunteer capacity, first at Ashwood Waldorf School and then at Watershed School. Charles was overjoyed when his grandson, Jeb, graduated from Watershed.
In addition to teaching and writing, Charles’ other great passion was for animals, and he and Pamela were supporters of P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center. He was a guardian to four cats and one dog, each beloved, throughout his life, but he cared about all creatures and frequently came to the rescue of various species over the years.
Charles will be remembered as a champion of the underdog among humans as well. He was known for standing up to bullies when a student himself, and as a teacher and tutor he was admired for his mentorship and his advocacy on behalf of his pupils.
Charles was pre-deceased by his wife, Pamela; his two sisters, Jane Packard Ackley and Ann Packard; his friend and student, Dennis Cambal, and friends, Robert Furman, Mark Kotkiewiz, Nanci Meisle, and Lucille Rogers Wooding. He is survived by his daughter, Amy Packard Smereck; his son-in-law, Daniel Smereck; his grandson, John (“Jeb”) Bartlett Smereck; his brother and sister-in-law, John and Debra (Carroll) Packard; brother-in-law, George Ackley; nephews, George G. Ackley, John Packard, Jr., and Matthew Packard; and nieces, Susan Ackley Paganetti and Jennifer Ackley Vogler. Charles will also be missed by his son-in-law’s family; Marc Smereck and Rachel and Daniel Lane. Additionally, Charles leaves behind a number of dear friends, including; Leslie Ballin and Paul Sasso, John and Mary Alice Bird, John Collier, Deborah Dempsey, Barbara Furman, Ted and Susan Kanellakis, Kathy Kangas and her sons, Cody and Casey Wilson, William Meisle, Ralph Moore and Bridget Buck, Jessica, Jill and Jeffrey Payson, Charles and Rosalie Peirce, Earl Randall, Mary Smyth, Pamela Swartz; daughter Amy’s godfather, Arthur Warren, Dave and Lois Wells, and Sarah Woolf-Wade.