He is a giant of a man, casting a long, welcoming shadow no matter what time of the day—morning, noon or even night; a warming shadow like a cool shade on a hot summer day. His presence is felt way up the Big Fork of Stinking Creek in the Pigeon Roost area, lingers in the Roaring Fork area in the neighborhood of his birth and childhood, is remembered at the Dewitt school, is recalled by his high school football teams as a fullback on offense and as a defensive end on defense and as a beloved pastor to the people at the Mills Missionary Church up Road Fork.
Peggy and I first met Charles as he came into this world at the little house about a mile up Roaring Fork as midwife Peggy coaxed the first cry from his lungs. Just being number eleven—there were already two brothers and eight sisters—would have been memorable enough but he was also number twenty-four in his father’s family. Imagine what it took for Sawyer Carnes to raise all those children on a small but lovely farm in a narrow valley with most of the acreage being woodland. So it does indeed take a long shadow to be uncle to 240 nieces and nephews scattered up and down Stinking Creek, in Knox County and even wider.
At different times in Charles’ growing up years, we, as neighbors, shared work and good and bad times. It was at Lend-A-Hand that little Charles first met Diane Smith in Bible School, Sunday school and 4-H activities. So they were acquainted even before the first year at the Dewitt School where he became active in sports. He confesses with a genuine smile that his love for Diane and football saw him through four years of high school. It just seemed natural for them to be married soon after high school and to move up Stinking Creek to help his new family in farming and building. His background in logging helped him find his profession in working with lumber which was to become his vocation.
He felt the call to become a preacher as his family grew. He was called to the Mills Missionary Church up Road Fork of Stinking Creek where he has been their pastor for twenty years. He not only has preached there Sunday after Sunday for those many years but he has been there for them for births, marriages, funerals and sicknesses of all kinds. He has been the one to go to for counseling and consoling, celebrations and baptisms and the person you can count on. What a welcoming shadow or cool shade he has become.
We at Lend-A-Hand have also been ones who felt free to call upon his help. In fact he wants to be called. What an inspiration it was this August to have him come and help with the bridge, mingling with our fellow workers from Indiana. Even after they were gone, Charles came back to help put things away. What an inspiration it was to watch him work with a young man, teaching him how to stack lumber so it can be used later. His strength was not only in his arms as he handled that heavy lumber but in sharing his “know how” to another generation.
So I say we on Stinking Creek are blessed to have Charles Carnes living and working among us. He has and does cast a giant shadow on many lives. How great it is that he can cast a shadow even in the night hours.