Family called Charlie, his daughters called daddy, students called Top, and neighbors called Charles, but everyone called Charles Settles because he was one hell of a man.
Charles Luther Settles was born to Jack Settles and Shirley Davis Settles on June 7, 1954, the third of seven children. In 1972, he joined the United States Marine Corps where he served proudly for 20 years before retiring as a Master Sergeant in 1992. Steadfast, dependable, and whip-smart, Charles had the character of a true Marine. He was frequently described by his COs as “a complete Marine, in the top 5% of all SNCOs.” He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal six times, two National Defense Service Medals, the Navy Artic Service Ribbon, was a Pistol Sharpshooter, and four-time Rifle Expert. He was meritoriously promoted to PFC out of boot camp and again during his rise to Gunnery Sergent for his outstanding performance during recruiting duty.
Charles was constantly seeking and obtaining knowledge on everything, to the point of mastery. After taking an interest in scuba diving as a hobby, he went on to qualify as an Advanced Open Water Diver, become a Certified Open Water Scuba Instructor, and a Certified Dive Master. Before purchasing his first home, he became a licensed real estate agent. When technological advancement came during the rise of computers, he learned everything there was to know, from programming to building computers from scratch. As an Aviation Operations Specialist for the USMC, he developed programs that “were responsible for increasing the commands level of readiness and training.” He took his skills at organization and management even further by completing a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Northwood University. Throughout his life, he gave 100% to everything he did and used his Marine discipline to make it all happen.
After retiring from the Marines in 1992, he became a Marine JROTC instructor at Grants High School from 93-94 and 96-97. In between he spent two years teaching Computer Literacy at the New Mexico State Prison, giving inmates the knowledge and skills they would need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. From 1998-2000, he was a Senior Marine Instructor for Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas. In 2000 he returned home to Alvin and established the first JROTC program at the high school he once attended. In his own words, he believed “as a teacher of leadership, one has to teach by setting an example the students will want to emulate,” and in this belief he never faltered. He spent the next 14 years guiding kids, providing unwavering support, and acting as a role model. Through the JROTC program, he was very active in community service and participated in Toys for Tots, Blue Santa, the Tour de Braz, numerous food pantry drives, and even got involved in hurricane cleanups following Ike. When the kids needed an obstacle course, he, Major Spakes, and the students rallied together and built it themselves. He was chosen as “most influential teacher” by one of his most promising cadets. Still loved and remembered by the kids on whose lives he had a profound impact, “Top” was always beyond proud when he reflected on the people they became after JROTC, and the character they demonstrated during.
As proud and dedicated a teacher and a Marine that he was, he was most proud of his role as a father and eventually a grandfather. His girls were the loves of his life and when it came to the job of father, there was no one greater. He was patient, caring, and willing to listen and learn - a rare trait in a parent. They could call him up at any time from anywhere and he would be there to get his girls, or sometimes their friends, out of a jam. He was always available to answer questions and could be counted on to give you an answer, no matter what the subject, thanks to that never-ending drive to learn that he possessed. And you can bet he was always right. He also possessed a unique ability to let you know you were messing up without being harsh or condemning, then help guide you back on the right track. Charles Settles was the archetype of a good father and a good man. He was also a world traveler, golden glove boxer, consummate prankster, slalom water skier, auto mechanic, handsome sort of fella, could execute a swan dive without making a splash, and one of the few people in existence to ever receive a thank you letter from the IRS.
Charles’ lifelong motto was “don’t sweat the small stuff in life.” But when you’re a giant of a man like he was, everything is small stuff.
He was preceded in death by his siblings: James Harry Settles in 1956, Beverly Jean Settles in 1958, Wesley Ray “Buster” Settles in 1989, Betty Catherine Settles in 1993, Clyde Newton Settles in 2011, and Robert Eugene Settles in February of 2020. He’s gone on to rejoin them and his parents, Jack and Shirley, together again and thick as thieves.
Left to cherish his memory is his wife, Nancy Susan Settles, with whom he spent 22 years; his daughters, Briana Michelle Settles and Alana Kathleen Settles; and grandchildren: Evelynn, Ophelia Charles, Brantley, Brennan, Lennon, Dalilah, Joseph and Adriana; the remainder of the Settles clan, all of whom meant the world to him; every student whose life he impacted; his ex-wife Cindy; his friends, and his community.
A Visitation for MSgt Charles Settles will be held on Friday, September 11, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Oak Park Chapel. A Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at Heights Baptist Church with Stephanie Londono officiating. Interment will follow in procession to Confederate Cemetery.
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