I am so sad to share the news that we lost a great Dudleyite this week in an inexplicably tragic car accident. Charlie Gillis #20804 attended camp for the first time as a Cub in 2008 and attended all four camper summers. He then participated in the NOLS program in 2012 and returned as an Aide and JL in the following years. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, Charlie joined the Hike Hut staff where he was able to express his love of the outdoors, which had been cultivated in the Adirondacks and in Wyoming. And he even managed to return to camp briefly this past season to help in whatever way he could around campus, including a memorable performance on the Witherbee stage with his buddy, Charlie Payne.
He was also our nephew and Rachel, Carter and Ellie’s cousin, and we are all heartbroken.
It has been amazing to hear from so many Dudleylites and friends this week with their steadfast support. The stories and memories of Charlie are many, and it is what is keeping us smiling when we think of him. Thank you for sending them our way. I share a few with you anonymously here:
“Charlie was one of the first people I met back in 2016, my first summer, and I will never forget how kind he was to me.”
“Our thoughts are with you and your family. Our son was trying to process this tragic event and was talking about what a great JL Charlie was and spoke about how he used to ride on Charlie’s shoulders.”
“I was so devastated to hear about Charlie. I remember him always teaching me some cool rock wall tips while he was there. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and your family. “
“I just heard some very sad news about our friend Charlie and I wanted to let you know that my thoughts are with your family and with everyone who knows what an exceptional friend and person he is. It’s raining quite hard here in Maine, but nonetheless I went for a walk to sit by the Androscoggin River where I thought about all the precious moments we shared together at camp. Though I am deeply saddened, I also feel humbled and grateful for all the times I have spent with Charlie.”
“I am so sorry to hear about Charlie. He was a wonderful part of the Dudley community and brought so much energy and enthusiasm to everything he did. I’ll always remember him leading our senior night experience in 2015 for our cabin. He did it just as you would expect: helping the boys through it while challenging them on a personal level. On behalf of my whole family, our thoughts are with you and Jess and the kids at this difficult time.”
“I wanted to express my condolence for the loss of Charlie. He was such a great young man. I enjoyed his company so much because he was one of those guys who was always happy and great to talk too. He was the one who always went above and beyond to help myself and the German kids with any outdoor topics we had. His presence will be truly missed around Dudley.”
I am often on the other side in my supporting role as Director when tragedy strikes our Dudley Community. Now, the tables have turned, and the Dudley family, including so many young people that I have had the honor of leading, have supported me and my family during this difficult time. I am constantly thinking about family – Jenn and Jack and Matt and Sara and Henry. Mom and Dad and Jess and Blair and Tom and Miranda and Sam and Ellie and Carter and Rachel and Jess. We are hanging in there, squeezing each other often, telling our own stories and missing Charlie.
Thank you all. Thank you boys, you’ve been a gift.
Ps: If you are seeking guidance, a person to talk to, or just want to connect with camp then please know that we are here to support you. Coincidentally, our dear friend Reverend Bill Harper #18500 has been in town this week and he has been a tremendous support for me and my family. If you would like additional support, feel free to reach out to Mollie Farnham-Stratton, who is our in-house clinical social worker, at email@example.com.
- If you have any pictures of Charlie that you’d like to share with others, including his family, please click here and upload so that we can share more broadly. CharliePics
- Here is a link to the family’s CaringBridge site.
Here is Charlie’s obituary.
Charles Storey “Charlie” Gillis, 20, of St. Louis, was fatally injured after being involved in a car accident on September 24, 2018. Charlie was born on March 27,1998, the son of Jack and Jenn (Storey) Gillis. He graduated from MICDS in 2016 and was attending the University of Kansas where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. As a lifelong member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, he served as an acolyte even during college.
Charlie was a talented artist and an accomplished athlete with a bright and curious mind. He played football, was captain of the track and field team and an All-State pole vaulter in high school at MICDS. He had a great love of the Adirondacks and Camp Dudley (Westport, NY), where he was camper #20804, an Aide, Junior Leader and member of the Hike Hut. His heart was enormous, and he loved his friends and family far and wide from St. Louis and MICDS to KU to Camp Dudley to Williamstown to Seattle and all over the world. Whether scaling a tree, strumming his ukulele, vaulting over a pole or careening down a ski slope, he lived in the moment with an unwavering sense of freedom, fearlessness, passion and joy. Ever resourceful and independent, Charlie expressed a magnetic combination of creativity and playfulness. These endearing qualities and his boundless love of humanity drew people to him. He will always be remembered as a compassionate, generous friend and loving family member. Charlie truly lived by Camp Dudley’s beloved motto, “The Other Fellow First.”
Charlie is survived by his parents, Jack and Jenn, his brothers, Matt and Henry, and his sister, Sara. He leaves his paternal grandparents, John and Nicki Gillis, also of St. Louis, as well as his maternal grandparents, John and Martha Storey of Williamstown, MA. Numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins were an important part of his life; he is carried with love and is part of each and every one of them: Suzanne Gillis and Greg Sterne, Jessica and Matt Storey, Jessica and Blair Dils, Genevieve Sterne, Alice Sterne, Tommy Dils, Miranda Dils, Sam Dils, Ellie Storey, Rachel Storey and Carter Storey. He will be remembered and honored by close friends from MICDS, Westport, Camp Dudley, Williamstown, KU and St. Louis.
A service in celebration of Charlie’s life will be held on Friday, October 5 at 2:00 p.m. in the MICDS Brauer Auditorium. Attendees should dress however they feel Charlie would want – football jerseys, Hawaiian shirts and snazzy bow ties are all perfect. Charlie loved what he loved deeply and without reserve. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation of time or treasure in Charlie’s name to an organization that is close to your heart. A few that were of importance to Charlie are Camp Dudley, MICDS, and Great Circle – we would love to know how you choose to honor him. In addition, please consider becoming an organ donor.
Other ideas for honoring Charlie include:
– recording an act of kindness in Charlie’s memory every day for a week
– #livingalittlelarger, #lovingalittlestronger, #relaxingjustabitmore