Date of Death: January 24, 2023

Service Details

A celebration of her life will be held on August 5, 2023.

Obituary Notice

Charlene J. Chase
September 7, 1932 – January 24, 2023

It is with heartfelt sadness that we announce the sudden, peaceful passing of Three Rivers resident Charlene Lois (Johnson) Chase, 90, on January 24, 2023 in Naples, FL. She was surrounded by her children, Curtis, Sandra and Jennifer, and beloved poodle Hannah.

Charlene was born on September 7, 1932, in Oak Park, IL, to the late Frances Ann (Johnson) and Charles L. Johnson, owner of C. Johnson & Son Hardware, Chicago.

She graduated from Oak Park-River Forest High School, where she met and in July, 1954, married her loving husband of nearly 67 years, William “Bill” Chase, until his passing in June, 2021. In 1930, Bill’s grandparents built a summer home on Corey Lake, Michigan, where she would spend summers and holidays, and over the years share special memories with family until making it their full-time residence in 1984, where her family lives today, spanning six generations. Corey Lake played a special part in the lives of Charlene and Bill, who hosted many memorable celebrations with family and lake friends, and championed the preservation of its beauty through the Corey Lake Improvement Association and campaigns to benefit the two camps on the lake.

Like her husband, Charlene enjoyed all the lake activities as she was an avid boater, sailor and slalom water skier, and skilled ice skater for she had taken lessons at the facility under the skating partner of Olympian Sonja Henie. In between raising her children, she also enjoyed perfecting her English saddle equestrian riding. Charlene’s love of sports evolved into curling. As members of the Oak Park Country Club, and later North Shore Country Club in Glenview, her decorated curling career began in 1971. She excelled in the women’s division, while she and Bill competed in mixed bonspiels at curling clubs across the Midwest medaling in many first-place wins, and in 1979 and 1980, they were awarded State Mixed Champions, representing Illinois in the Nationals. She and Bill continued their curling career through the 1980’s, later enjoying the games on TV and were thrilled to see curling finally recognized as a medal sport in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

After she moved her young family to River Forest, IL, Charlene was engaged in numerous volunteering opportunities as a Teacher’s Aide, Girl Scout Troop Leader and many years in administration at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, IL.

Being involved in charitable causes played an important part of Charlene’s life as she served on the boards and committees of many civic and philanthropic organizations. She was a member of the Oak Park-River Forest Infant Welfare Society from 1962-1984, an organization very dear to her heart. She was an officer and Director of Circle 39, and later served as treasurer and president of the entire Society from 1973-1979, steering the mission of 800 members. Her cherished accomplishment was the renaming and expansion of the Society-funded Well Baby Clinic to become the Well Child Clinic, enlarging the facility and developing resources to provide wellness care for infants to teenage youths in need, including dental care. She enjoyed her time chairing fundraising campaigns through designer fashion shows to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Showcase House series. She would continue as an Advisory Board member for years to come.

After relocating to Michigan, she became an active member in the Three Rivers Cotillion Club and Three Rivers Woman’s Club; and served on the Board of Directors for The Carnegie Center for the Arts since 2001, also serving on committees, and as vice president, followed by her role as President of the Carnegie Board from 2003-2005. Her desire to make art accessible to all was another passion of hers. A two-time breast cancer survivor, she also participated in breast cancer awareness initiatives.

In addition to being a devoted mother, Charlene also valued her professional working roles for she developed a strong work ethic at a very early age. Scooping ice cream evolved into a fulfilling career path in advertising, logistics and her other love, banking. Her many roles were instrumental in shaping the success of several executives and CEO’s and facilitating corporate mergers. Before motherhood, she was employed as an account executive at Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago. Later, she transitioned into executive office roles in the Chicago area with Forest Park National Bank, Midwest Bank & Trust in Elmwood Park and Allied Van Lines corporate offices in Broadview. Additionally, she was a licensed real estate salesperson. Her banking roles continued in Michigan, where she worked in the executive offices of First of America Bank Corporation and held that position during their expansion and mergers until she retired in 1998. She also played a key role assisting the CEO in his term as Chair of the Board of the American Bankers Association.

Charlene had an adventuresome spirit and love for travel. Whether by car or train to a National Park, scenic byway, or historical site with family, she visited nearly every state in the U.S., and Hawaii. She enjoyed her sunny island destinations, yet Marco Island, FL remained a top favorite.

She cherished family above it all, making each birthday, anniversary and accomplishment a special celebration and would travel hours to always be there to support and cheer on family. She enjoyed entertaining, attending Broadway musicals and live concerts, reading books, interior decorating, art and antique collecting, her treasured poodles, cheering on her favorite sports teams and attending football games at The Big House. Her warm smile, keen sense of style and loving spirit will forever live on.

Surviving Charlene are her son, Curtis of Three Rivers, MI; daughters, Sandra of Three Rivers, MI and Jennifer of Naples, FL; sister Carole (Johnson) White of McHenry, IL; brother-in-law James (Patricia) Chase of Three Rivers, MI; two grandchildren, Kyle Bloch and Matthew (Rachel) Bloch of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; one great-grandchild, Finley Jane Bloch; many nieces and nephews, and their children; and her beloved poodle, Hannah.

Along with her parents, Charlene was preceded in death by her husband, William “Bill” Chase; sisters, Marjorie (Johnson) Solberg of Plano, TX and Dorothy (Johnson) Cole of Highland Park, IL; three brothers-in-law; and one sister-in-law.

Additional Information

A memorial fund in Charlene’s honor, to further education for area students in the arts, has been established at The Carnegie Center for the Arts, 107 North Main Street, Three Rivers, MI 49093.

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  1. My sincere condolences to the Chase family; I had the pleasure of meeting Charlene when she was here in Hilton Head and I was so touched by her sweet and gentle soul. Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Our family built and owned three doors down from the Chase family on Corey Lake until our grandmother sold our cottage in the early 70’s. We have fantastic life-long memories of fun on the lake with the Chases, including Bill’s amazing water skiing, picnics, and playing on their sand beach. Char and our mom Joan remained great friends even after Joan and Bob retired to Marco Island. Char’s visits were highlights every year in Marco. Her smile would light up the room, and her positive nature was inspiring. Char was a beautiful person inside and out. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sandra, Curtis, and Jennifer, and the rest of their family. Char will be sorely missed. Joan, Chuck, Babs, and Erin and the rest of the Ostrander family send their sincere condolences.

  3. Char’s energy and big smile were always present each chance I had to meet her. I’ll always remember dancing with her in Las Vegas while attending a pharmacy society meeting! Her spirit and joy live on with her beautiful family. My deepest sympathies to Curt, Sandra, and Jennifer.

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