Charles Greene was born May 9, 1936 to Joe Henry and Miami Greene, in Washington, Arkansas.
In his teens, Charles moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he developed an interest in boxing, eventually becoming a Golden Gloves champion.
At the age of 17, Charles joined the United States Marine Corps. Upon enlisting, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. He served our nation in the Korean War, as well as at the White House during the Eisenhower presidency.
Charles met Olivia Walker, they were married on September 5, 1959, and settled in San Diego. He left the Marine Corps after six years, but the Marine Corps never left him. “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” was a frequent chant of his through the years.
Charles graduated from Midway Adult School and obtained his Associate Arts degree from San Diego City College. He later earned his Bachelor’s degree in public administration from San Diego State College in 1969.
Charles joined the San Diego County Probation Department after graduation. He worked in a variety of capacities within the department, from juvenile probation to adult probation services, eventually supervising at the department’s honor camps. He retired from the department in 1997.
After retirement, Charles spent his time involved in auxiliary military organizations. He was an officer in the Montford Point Marine Association, which memorializes the legacy of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Charles was also involved with the American Legion, participating in its various community events. He frequently attended monthly ceremonies at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot and Camp Pendleton, where he was honored to be celebrated by high ranking officers, who, in the tradition of the Corps, honored those who served before them. He remained dedicated to physical fitness, rising early for his daily workout at the gym or participating in Tai Chi sessions.
Above all, Charles was devoted to his family. When the children were young, there were the “Saturday trips,” in which the family would pile into the car, unaware of the adventures that awaited them. He loved to share his vast knowledge of history, particularly of African Americans. In addition, he dedicated his life to loving and mentoring his only grandchild, Symone.
Charles renewed his faith in God, becoming a member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in San Diego, often helping with the church’s barbeques as long as his health allowed.
Charles passed peacefully on Saturday, November 16, 2019, after a long battle with various illnesses. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Julius and Joe, and his sister, Willie Jo. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Olivia; his children, Marcus, Michelle and Michael and wife, Kim; his grandchild, Symone; his sister, Mary Winston; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
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