Friends of Charles “Chuck” Rafferty described him as a happy-go-lucky guy who always had a smile on his face.
More than that, they say he was a man who was devoted to his church and the goings on in it for at least the past 20 years.
When something needed painted, he painted it. When something needed fixed, he fixed it. He supported the youth and did almost anything he was asked to do and always saw the project through.
Sadly, after a 10-year bout with melanoma, Rafferty passed away last Friday. So, just days before a planned blood drive in his honor, the members of The First Christian Church in Corbin were faced with a decision that was obvious once they thought about it.
Instead of scrapping the idea, they decided to carry on as planned to honor their friend and family member, just as they thought he would have done.
“This blood drive was just a culmination of what we as church members could do to help,” said Church Elder LeAnne Strunk, who also helped organize the drive. “The type of cancer Charles had required that he use a lot of blood and at one point, we asked how we could help and he asked that we give blood.”
When Rafferty abruptly passed away Friday, church Deacon Vicki Kinsel said the decision was a tough one, but in the end she thinks it was the right one.
“We had a decision to make and the people at the Blood Center thought that we should carry on without question,” said Kinsel. “We really thought this was the best way to honor a man who was so devoted to First Christian Church.
“Chuck was so happy and really, always had a smile on his face,” she added. “He always brought your spirits up, no matter what the situation or how sick he was and he was at church regularly up until about a month ago.”
Despite several bouts over the years, Rafferty’s cancer had been in control until about a year ago, when doctors told him there was nothing more they could do for him as far as radiation and chemotherapy, but there were some experimental measures that could be explored.
Kinsel said at that point, Rafferty decided to spend the rest of his time trying to enjoy life.
When all was said and done, as she readied herself to donate a pint of blood in her late friend’s honor, Strunk said she couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to Rafferty.
“You know, we pray and we send cards and flowers, but to actually give something back for Chuck’s friendship and faithfulness to this church is something small we could do,” Strunk said. “He was someone that everyone liked and got along with and I think the turnout really speaks volumes as to how people felt about him.”
In addition to a good turnout of church members, several of Strunk’s former co-workers from CSX showed up to honor Rafferty with the gift of blood and even more were on the list to donate when their shift at the Corbn railyard ended.
Rafferty was laid to rest on Monday at the Cumberland Memorial Gardens Mausoleum after what Strunk called a celebration of his life.