On October 9th, 1995, the Class of 1962 lost one of its own and WPHS one of her most memorable sons. Charles R. Jenkins, and extraordinary athlete and an unsurpassed gentleman, passed away. Those who learned of his passing were universally struck by the thought that this giant of a man had left us far too soon. And as each struggled with his feelings, midst the crisp autumn air and falling leaves, we could not help but return to that special fall of 1961.
In the span of 8 short weeks beginning in September 1961, Charlie’s exploits on the gridiron became legend. He gain nearly 1800 yards for the season, 323 of these in 22 carries in a single game, scored 17 touchdowns for the season, 10 in back to back games, marks which still stand in the annals of WPHS football. Anyone who watched this remarkable combination of speed and power knew they were witnessing something rare, physical gifts which the Creator bestows upon only a chosen few. Charlie Jenkins was a hero to many of us then, and his status has remained intact in the decades hence.
But for all his considerable athletic prowess, what we remember most about Charlie is his genuine warmth, his ever present smile, and the compassion he showed for all whose lives he touched. As age eroded of his monumental physical gifts, as it does to all of us, it was this warmth of spirit that maintained its constancy and ultimately defined the man who was Charles R. Jenkins.
Perhaps the most telling comment on Charlie’s character was offered by a classmate who poignantly observed, “the Lord needed another angel so He came down and took Charlie.”
The world has turned over many times since we roamed the halls and athletic fields of WPHS. But we submit that the values of warmth, kindness, and unrelenting effort which Charlie symbolized are not subject to the ravages of time, but remain as inviolate as they were generations ago.
It is in this spirit that we remember Charlie Jenkins. To perpetuate his memory the WPHS Class of 1962 has established a permanent memorial and annual scholarship in his name. The benefits are to be awarded annually to the student who, in the opinion of the faculty, best exemplifies the characteristics of sportsmanship, kindness, and compassion toward his peers.
We ask all to reflect briefly on our fallen friend and classmate, Charles R. Jenkins, and that each of us honor him by making a silent commitment to extend a little more kindness and compassion toward his fellow man.