The Rev. Dr. Charles R Huggins, 87, of Sanford, NC passed away peacefully at home Thursday September 14, 2023 after a long well fought battle with dementia. He was surrounded by family and holding the hand of the love of his life.
Charles was born June 14, 1936, in Lenoir, NC, the son of the late Russell J. and Bleeka Carpenter Huggins. Shortly thereafter they moved to Hickory, NC where he spent most of his childhood. Charles graduated from Hickory High School in 1954. He then received his AB Degree in Sociology from Lenoir-Rhyne College in 1958. Being inspired by his grandfather’s sermons, Charles knew he wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a third generation pastor.
He obtained his Master of Divinity at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 1961 where he was Senior Class President. In 1981 he earned his Doctor of Ministry from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.
Charles was ordained to the office of the Lutheran ministry and accepted the call from The Board of American Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America to develop and organize a Lutheran congregation in Archdale, NC. in 1962. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the New Covenant was organized and worshipped in various temporary quarters out growing each. After three years they were able to build their own church. During his time as pastor at New Covenant he also served as secretary and president of the High Point Ministerial Alliance and chairman of the alliance’s television committee. He was also producer and announcer of the weekly television program “Religious News” seen on WGHP-TV.
In 1967 Charles accepted his second call as pastor to Trinity Lutheran Church in Sanford, NC where he would continue to serve for 32 years until his retirement in 1999. During his time in Sanford he had a positive impact on many lives, enjoyed raising a family, and made many lifelong friends. Upon retirement from Trinity Lutheran Church, he was honored as Pastor Emeritus.
After retirement Charles was an Adjunct Professor at Central Carolina Community College teaching Philosophy and Bible. He was also Interim Pastor for St. Pauls, Durham, Christus Victor, Durham, Abiding Presence, Fuquay, and St. James, Fayetteville. He continued his ministry in retirement at St. Pauls Lutheran as the Assistant to the Pastor where he again made very special life long friends. Upon leaving, he was honored as Pastor Emeritus at St. Pauls Lutheran.
Charles was active in many professional and civic activities. A few include: Dean of the Eastern Conference of the NC Synod, various committees of the NC Synod, Board of Directors Lee County Group Homes, Board of Directors Association for Retarded Children, Guilford County Council on Mental Retardation, Secretary of the Board of Directors of Lee County Partnership for Children (Smart Start), Lee County Bloodmobile, Helping Hands Clinic, and Babe Ruth League Baseball Coach.
Charles was also awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest recognition for state service granted by the North Carolina office of the Governor.
During Charles’ time in Hickory, he met Linda Sue Cline and knew one day he would marry her. They both went to the same high school and church and were married on August 9, 1959, had two children, and were blessed to celebrate 64 years of marriage.
Outside of serving his lord, Charles had many joys in life including reading, learning, music, the daily crossword puzzle with his morning coffee, Linda’s cooking, gathering with friends, and most of all family. He loved his wife with his whole heart. They would frequently be seen together, holding hands, enjoying each other’s company, and giving each other a double kiss before leaving.
He was an avid runner participating in multiple 5K races each year until his knees decided it was enough. He joked that sometimes he was the last one in the race followed by the rescue squad. He was also very involved with giving blood and blood platelets, donating over 40 gallons.
He was very generous with his time, attending his children’s music and sports practices, recitals, games, and school events. He could always be counted on. He cherished the annual family beach trips more and more each year as the family grew larger. He was also honored and proud to be able to perform the marriage ceremony for his granddaughter and participate in two of his great grandchildren’s baptism.
Charles lived his life the way he wanted to be remembered. He was a true child of God.
Charles is survived by his wife, Linda Cline Huggins; daughter Susan H. Grainger (Bill) of Clemmons; son Mark R Huggins (Shawn) of Hickory; grandchildren, Meredith Chadwell (Ryan), Eric Grainger (Abby), Adam Grainger, Steven Grainger, Megan Duggins (Jason), and Brooke Huggins; great grandchildren Saylor Chadwell, Holden Chadwell, Tucker Chadwell, Nash Grainger, Hensley Grainger, Riggs Grainger, and Ellie Mason.
A Memorial service will be held at 11:00 am Friday Sept 22, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sanford, NC.
The family will receive friends in the fellowship hall following the service.
Memorial contributions can be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, 525 Carthage Street, Sanford, NC 27330 or a Memorial in his name to the Dementia Society of America.