Charles Nelson Hensley

April 7, 1935March 8, 2023
Obituary of Charles Nelson Hensley
Charles Nelson (Chuck) Hensley followed his “best boy” Gatsby cat into whatever comes next Wednesday, March 8, 2023. He passed after months of at-home hospice, surrounded by the women he loved the most—his wife who was his caretaker especially the last years of his life, Becky, and daughters Tricia and Angie. Chuck lived life on his own terms, tapping his fingers to his own rhythm on the steering wheel as he drove (while annoyingly pumping the brakes for no reason), identifying with the Disney villains more than the heroes, and voting lifelong Democrat in Republican-dominated Texas because he believed that “The Man” should not hold all the power. Chuck was born in 1935 in San Diego, California, a Navy brat of a Purple-Heart recipient. One of his favorite songs was “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas as he always dreamed of returning to his home state but never did, outside of a couple of vacations with his daughters. He landed in Dallas, meeting the love of his life at South Oak Cliff High School in 1953. After graduation, he served as Airman in the US Navy, solely to see Europe. On his way to board his assigned ship sailing to the Mediterranean, an officer called “HENSLEY!” and informed him that he (and his squadron) would serve on the USS Bennington sailing to the Western Pacific instead. He never did make it to Europe, though he reveled when his daughter Angie and granddaughter Ashley went. In between stints at sea, he proposed to his high school sweetheart in front of a trash can in Gary, Indiana, where she was completing nursing school. He hated ceremony and being the center of attention so much that, at his wedding, when the minister said, “Do you take Rebecca,” he interrupted “YES!” before the minister could finish the sentence. His family remembers the fact that Chuck would push a door labeled “pull” (or vice versa), how he never figured out that he had to press the red button in order for the Sonic attendant to take his order, how he loved to snack though more snacks ended up on him rather than in him. A core memory for his children and grandchildren is his wife Becky using the Dustbuster to clean the crumbs off his shirt. Chuck was generous, despite the fact he was a man of humble means. In fact, in the last week of his life, he was so humble that he worried over his granddaughter Sarah spending nine dollars on a neck pillow to make him more comfortable in his hospice bed. His daughter Tricia’s first memory of her dad is sitting on the floor sharing M&Ms where the only pieces he ate were the ones she dropped on the floor. His daughter Angie knew, as a child, that he would never deny her plea to buy a book from a bookstore, and she took every advantage of that generosity. That, in addition to the stacks of books she checked out at the local library, ignited her love (and eventual study) of literature. An avid reader of history and philosophy, Chuck could talk for hours about topics that only academic scholars in the field could keep up with. The volumes of books he read, along with the classic movies and PBS documentaries he loved, resulted in his belief that all people should be respected, the embodiment of live and let live. In addition to his generosity, Chuck’s grandchildren remember him as extraordinarily patient. His granddaughter Ashley remembers him waking up early to drive her to school every morning, despite the fact she could have walked to school in the small town of Stamford where they lived at the time. Chuck walked his grandson, Cormac, around Stamford every day, waiting as Cormac would pretend to turn on and off, as he’d seen the firemen do, every fire hydrant they passed. However, as his granddaughters Sarah and Lucy recall, Chuck’s patience was put to the test every time he watched the news as they will never forget the colorful language he saved for speeches delivered by the “orange president” he thought bullied the hardworking. A cat man lifelong, Chuck connected with the feline variety. His cats were his family as much as his daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, a fact to which none took offense. The feline family member that captured his heart like no other, Gatsby was his best boy in the last years of his life. A self-proclaimed sceptic of all religions, Chuck nevertheless admitted to seeing Gatsby’s ghost multiple times in his final days. In fact, as he was taking his last breaths, his daughter Tricia told him that he would soon see Gatsby on the other side. Chuck is preceded in death by his father, AT Hensley, and mother, Birdie Mae Hensley. He is survived by his wife and love of his life and best friend, Rebecca Hensley, as well as a gaggle of strong descendants who will miss his dark humor though maybe not so much his political diatribes: daughter Patricia Hammon and her husband, Gary; Patricia’s individualistic daughters Ashley Jameson, her daughter Mallory Bossuet and Mallory’s father, Jean Luc Bossuet, as well as daughter Sarah Perez, her husband AJ Perez, and sons Mason and Alec Perez; daughter Angelica Cook and her feisty children, Cormac and Lucy Cook; beloved son-in law Shea Cook; and countless other Hensley relatives. No memorial service is planned per Chuck’s wishes. In lieu of a memorial, please live and let live, as he always did. And if you get the chance, travel to Europe as he always wanted to do.

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