Charles Thomas “Charlie” McGrath Jr., dedicated father, treasured friend and passionate activist, passed away in the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at the age of 46.
On June 22, 1969, Charlie was born to Charles McGrath and Doris Roberts in Spearfish, South Dakota. In all, Charlie had twelve siblings but was Charles’ first son. Charlie’s early and teenage years were spent in Butte, Montana. He was a very curious boy, who may very well have taken the prize for most questions asked in a single day. He played little league baseball, loved to go fishing and hunting with his dad and had a talent for drawing, always having a sketch pad full of wildlife scenes. He attended high school dances and actually won his first car as a door prize at one dance.
After graduating from Butte High, Charlie enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1988. During his military career, he was stationed in Germany where he met his first wife Gabi. He later served in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, earning the Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Stars.
Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Charlie, along with Gabi and her son Danny, returned to Montana where he began working in the construction and building material industry, ultimately leading to a successful career alongside his long-time best friend, Anthony (Tony) Tangaro.
By 1996, Charlie and Gabi had separated, but remained friends. It was at this time that he met RaeLynn Wasley, whose daughter Amelia he completely adored. Charlie and RaeLynn were soon married, and in 2000, the family welcomed into the world Charlie’s absolute pride and joy, Charlie III. Following an amicable separation with RaeLynn, Charlie’s sole focus in life became raising and providing for his son. While he was an accomplished man in many aspects of life, Charlie was never more proud of, nor cared more for anyone than his son.
Charlie’s work literally took him around the world. In 2007, on one of his many work-related travels, he met the love of his life, Karla Sisneros. The two hit it off immediately, and though they lived nearly a thousand miles apart, their love for one another never wavered. Charlie and Karla spent countless weekends and holidays together enjoying friends, family, movies, good food and the time they shared.
In 2008, Charlie watched as financial institutions and never-ending war devastated endless numbers of families throughout the world. Not knowing how best to vent his outrage, he picked up a video camera and posted his feelings on YouTube. At the time, Charlie had no idea how many others felt the same way. As the popularity of his videos grew, Charlie (with the assistance of his tech-savvy sister Bonnie) launched wideawakenews.com in order to provide the public with an alternative, independent source of news and information. Charlie’s honest, straight-forward presentation, in conjunction with a keen sense of humor, resulted in a tremendous online following. His passion, humor and intellect will be forever preserved in his videos.
Over the years, Charlie enjoyed and exceled at a vast number of activities and hobbies including drawing, painting, woodworking, construction of all kinds (possessing a MacGyver-like quality of being able to fix anything using only the materials that could be found lying around), cooking and of course, eating (documenting many meals with a photograph). He was the ultimate outdoorsman, with a passion for hunting, fishing, hiking, shooting, boating and camping. Charlie was a tireless runner, finishing nearly a dozen marathons and multiple grueling Bridger Ridge Runs. He especially enjoyed running mountain trails in Helena with his brother Carter and in Bozeman with Tony.
Charlie was preceded in death by his mother, Doris and father, Charles; brother, Tom; cousin, Connie; and trusty sidekick Trixie the dog.
Charlie is survived by his beloved companion, Karla; son, Charlie Jr.; stepdaughter, Amelia; Karla’s daughter, Anisa; stepmom, Lisa; siblings, Mike (Colleen), Jane (Kent), Jesse (Diana), Bill (Christine), Donna (Jerry), Patty (Monte), Bonnie (Shane), Casey (Shannon), Cody (Jenn), Carter (Ashley), and Molly (Luke); many nieces, nephews and cousins and innumerable friends.
To know Charlie McGrath was to love him. There was no other way to know him. He was kind, funny and driven in all aspects of his life. He was always the first to resolve a friend’s problem or make you laugh when you thought you didn’t have it in you. It is quite literally impossible to summarize or do justice to all of the incredible qualities Charlie possessed - his adventurous spirit, compassionate heart and thoughtful mind cannot be summed up in mere words. His infectious charisma and warmth was spread to all those who had the honor of knowing him. His bright smile and giant hugs will be forever missed.
A celebration of Charlie's life will take place this summer in Helena — details will be will be announced in the near future. Memorial donations can be made to the Charlie McGrath III Benefit Fund at First Security Bank, 208 E. Main in Bozeman, Montana.