Dr. Charles Havener Kite Sr was a pillar at my church, an ordained elder and deacon. When his grandson, who is in the third grade, received his own Bible this past fall, Charlie proudly held up the Bible HE got when he was a kid.
Charlie Kite was very helpful to me when my sister Leslie had her bicycle accident in June 2018. He explained that the fact that the brain bleed was detected for only a short time was a good sign. I was happy to get feedback from a neurosurgeon and a respected faculty member in the anatomy program at Albany Medical College.
The interesting thing I that I didn’t ask him straight out. I had put put Leslie on the church prayer list and was musing about her condition during coffee hour. Charlie, and/or his wife Tara, who also teaches at the medical college, would give me the 411.
Sometime in the past couple years, my wife noted, in his presence, some pain she was having, and he’d suggest how long one could take some over-the-counter medicines at a slightly higher dosage without causing other damage.
I’ll always remember that I found out that Charlie had metastatic pancreatic cancer when he announced it at the semiannual breakfast of the Bible Guys in early December. My contact with him that day was brief but meaningful to us both.
His family, literally and figuratively, rallied around him, most visibly at church. At the first service after his diagnosis was made public, there were nearly two dozen Kites in the front of the sanctuary for an Advent candle lighting and reading. But Charlie alone got the honor of reading.
After the initial shock and sorrow, he seemed liberated to say what was truly on his mind. During December, he spoke to me every week, telling me to fight the good fight online. He specifically enjoyed the jabs I took at a certain orange-haired persona. He would have enjoyed what former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, experiencing the same medical diagnosis, had to say.
Charlie was an unabashed liberal. His late mother Dorothy (1923-2011), who I remember well, was a real advocate for civil rights and social justice. He supported LGBTQ rights, the local Planned Parenthood, the FOCUS Churches outreach programs, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
I knew very little about the signs of pancreatic cancer except that most of them mimic other diseases. In other words, “many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions,” so it’s tricky to diagnose early.
The funeral of Charlie Kite is scheduled for this Sunday afternoon, January 20, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m., with the choir singing. Double-digit inches of snow are forecast.