Charles and Jeanetta married 68 years ago. They served the area’s homeless through outreach ministry that included cooking and serving food for many years. When asked how it felt to be nominated as Silver Stars, Charles said humbly, “so honored” and Jeannetta enthusiastically replied, “I found it fantastic and unbelievable.” Both honorees loved telling the story of their volunteerism.
It was an ambitious venture for Charles and Jeannetta to serve others through their small church—Tallahassee Corinth Christian Fellowship in Midway. “We had about 14 members,” Charles said. But serving the homeless “brought appreciation for all we could provide. It made me feel good and I looked forward to the smiles as God worked through us,” Jeannetta added.
It all began when Charles was 18. “Jesus Christ laid upon my heart to work with members of my community and in outreach to help those who were unable to help themselves. In 1961, I began preaching. As a Christian and minister of Christ, I wanted a better life for boys and girls in the underserved community,” he explains.
Charles began his public service career as a Jacksonville policeman. He served that city for 20 years. Charles was the Commission’s first black member and received the Policeman of the Year Award by the Office of the Sheriff in 1968. Charles was appointed the first black Jacksonville Police Chief in 1973 and appointed by Governor Reuben Askew to the Parole and Probation Commission in 1975. His service on the commission from 1975-1987 included the role as chairman from 1976-1978. After leaving the Commission, he moved to Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco, retiring in 2003 as a Major. In 2020 Charles was honored with the Florida Sheriff’s Association’s Distinguished Service Award.
“For 20 years I was chaplain at Big Bend Hospice. I served in that role at Capital Medical Regional Center for 15 years and at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, I was chaplain for another 15 years.” Sometimes his position was as an employee and other times as a volunteer. But it was a life’s ambition to serve and minister.
During this time, the couple also volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program and with Big Bend Hospice for more than 10 years. And for five or six years, Jeanetta remembers, she had good times with the writing, production and distribution of CRMC’s newsletter “H2U.”
By Rosetta Stone Land