Class of 1967
Chuck Criswell moved to Sycamore with his mom and siblings when he was in the third grade. In his junior year coach and teacher, Pete Johnson, helped Chuck get into the D.O. (Diversified Occupations) program so he could help his mom support the family. Chuck always looked up to Mr. Johnson and thought of him as a father figure. Chuck was so proud to be asked to speak at Pete’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
Chuck married Terry Kelley in 1967 and they had three children, Tammie, Shelley and Charles Jr. (Chip); all three also graduated from Sycamore High School.
In 1967 Chuck started working at University Volkswagen on the wash rack. He went from wash rack to mechanic to service manager before opening up his own shop, Chuck’s Auto Center, in 1990. “Quality work at a fair price” was Chuck’s motto. He started the Turning Back Time car show in 2000 and ran it for 12 years until back surgeries stopped him and he had to step down. Chuck believed all money should stay in Sycamore to help out the community.
Chuck also hosted the Baby Boomer Bash class reunions for the classes of 1960-69 for several years. He was featured in the Sycamore History Museum exhibit “Faces of Sycamore” from April 2016 to April 2017.
As a kid, Chuck was thought by many as the kid from the wrong side of the tracks. He came from a broken home and his family was on welfare. He had a hard life but Chuck worked hard to help his mom pay the bills and helped raise his brothers and sisters. Chuck worked hard to cross those tracks and became an equal in everyone’s eyes. He did more than that … he didn’t just cross those tracks, he removed them! To Chuck all people were equal, he didn’t care who you were or what side of town you lived on; if you needed help and he could do something for you, he did it!
Chuck supported Sycamore and the people of Sycamore in any way he could. Many customers left his shop with him saying “I’ll catch you next time!” If you came to Chuck for a donation, he gave you one. At Thanksgiving and Christmas he participated and funded many Turkey drives.
Family and community were always important to Chuck. At the time of his death from lung cancer on March 4, 2016 Chuck’s family found out just how much the community and people of Sycamore thought of Chuck. The support and love they showed to his family was overwhelming and greatly appreciated.
Chuck’s family keeps his memory alive by hosting a Pub Crawl each year in his name and giving all proceeds to local charities. Starting with the 2018-19 school year, the family started a scholarship in Chuck’s name to go to a student in real need.
Chuck loved Sycamore, the community and the people. His being inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame shows it doesn’t matter if you are financially well off or what side of town you live on … what matters is if you work hard, care about others and give with all of your heart. Chuck made it and so can you! He would be so proud to know he made it in your eyes too!