This is a reprint. Chuck died 2/24/78.
Links at end
In Memory of My Beloved Son, Chuck Stenzel
by Eileen Stevens, retired founder of C.H.U.C.K.
On the anniversary of my son Chuckâ€™s death, I want to tell you about him.
Everyone knows the sad circumstances –that he died needlessly in a fraternity hazing gone awry at Alfred University all those years ago. That alcohol poisoning and exposure to the cold killed him while locked in a car trunk with two others-for only God knows how long.
We know the story was reported countless times–as our family waited and waited for our questions to be answered. We waited as an anti-hazing law was introducedâ€”but it kept getting stuck in committees despite enormous supportâ€”and it was finally vetoed by New Yorkâ€™s then Governor Carey.
The bill was reintroduced–and finally passedâ€”and though Chuckâ€™s story was being told and retold, we [his family] were coming to the realization that our questions would never be answered.
But, no one wrote about, or knew about the kid who was an altar boy for four years. No one knew the boy who delivered newspapers at 5 a.m.-then rode his bike to school. How he saved for an old Ford pick-up truck–made money clamming in Long Islandâ€™s Great South Bay–in a clam boat he rebuilt himself. He also worked in Foshisâ€™s Gas Station in Sayville.
Chuck was an industrious young man–who seemed to make the honor roll–and yet find the time to play basketball, baseball and hockey with his kid brothers. He shoveled snow for neighbors–without pay–and dropped extra clams off to people as well (I never knew this until after he died).
Chuck had a sharp and classic wit and there was always a smile on his face. He lit up a room when he entered. His kid sister was the light of his life. Suzanne was 12 when he left us–and like all of his family and friends, she was devastated and brokenhearted.
How Chuck would love the seven nieces and nephews he will never know–Oh—but they know him!
Uncle Chuck is talked about a lot!–and he is remembered in their prayers each night. Two are his namesakes–both named Charles–one called Chuck–and one Chad.
And his best friend from Sayville, Jim, named his son Cody-Charles.
My son Scott drives for UPS and still, to this day meets people who knew Chuck and who share stories about him.
If one kid knows about hazing because of Chuck, then he did not die in vain.
He was an ordinary –yet extraordinary young man.
He touched many lives though his own was cut short.
Chuck wanted to teach–he would have been a wonderful teacher!! He had a thirst for knowledge–and he had so many plans.
Sadly, cruelly,-his plans–his dreams were shattered because he chose to join Klan Alpine-a now unrecognized fraternity at Alfred.
I consider myself blessed to have been a part of the efforts to eliminate hazing. Many states [44 as of 2007–and Wyoming’s uneducated state Senate just killed what would have been 45. HN] have outlawed hazing. Programs are in place to raise awareness, educate and deter the dangerous practice that was ignored–even accepted–for too long. I only wish I could say we have it under control.
That, sadly, is not the case–but, I say to those that fight the fight–God Speed—and because of you I have hope and the comfort that Chuck did not die in vain.
On February 24–we will have a quiet family gathering My son Steven will light a candle in the church near his NYC apartment where my parents were married. A family friend Father Bill Logan will offer a mass. My grandchildren will visit Chuckâ€™s grave–we will be thankful for each other–and reflect–and the day will pass.
But our hearts will be heavy and ache for the young promising life that was lost without warning.
The blonde, blue-eyed strapping boy,–who will forever be 20–is gone but will always be in our hearts.
Please know I will be forever grateful to all of you who strive to make our campuses safer.