Centre ICE Arena has seemed a little less grumpy without Charlie Inman there, and that’s a shame. For those of us who knew the Centre ICE volunteer in one form or another, the grumpy old man who wasn’t so grumpy once he got to know you–and Charlie was everywhere at Centre ICE, so you were bound to get to be known–was in fact a kind man who treated everyone like they were the star of the show.
Charlie was literally at Centre ICE on Sunday the urn of his ashes, a sand-colored jar with the word “Believe” on it and the autographs of Red Wings players on the stand below it, was at the rink along with his family, who dropped the puck for the Red vs. White Game, and then held a memorial service at Charlie’s place of work.
The Traverse City Record-Eagle’s James Cook paid tribute to Inman, and I can only say, “Me too, me too” when it comes to Cook’s admiration for the man who wielded a cane with a silver skull on its top:
Charlie had a gruff exterior, especially when first meeting him.
That eroded a little at a time, piece by piece each time you crossed paths.
The “curmudgeon” slowly morphed into someone who greeted you with a smile, opened doors. It took years of covering Red Wings events for that to happen, but it did. It was a process. After all, I didn’t have the instant credibility of being on skates as his adopted family of Red Wings did.
“Charlie sometimes had a gruff exterior,” Becki Van Horn, a bookkeeper at Centre Ice for 18 years, said in a Record-Eagle article about Inman’s passing in July. “It was to mask his big heart on the inside. He did anything and everything he was asked to do. Rarely, if ever, said no to a challenge as a volunteer. He was truly one of a kind and will be sorely missed.”
Cook continues, and his article is worth your time…