NORTH GRAFTON, MA — Charles N. “Charlie” Bolack — founder of the Grafton News and Grafton Suburban Credit Union among others, entrepreneur, veteran, flag-waver and friend to anyone he ever met — passed away peacefully at home at 6:14 p.m. Wednesday, August 21, 2013 surrounded by his family. He was 87 years old.
Charlie is survived by his brother Francis and his wife Eva of Grafton; two sisters, Marianne Rososky and her husband Bruce of Westborough and Ethel Pierce of Millbury; and many nephews and nieces and great-nephews and great-nieces. He was predeceased by a brother Walter F. Bolack, Jr.
Born July 22, 1926, the son of Walter F. Bolack Sr. and Marion (Lucas) Bolack of Worcester, MA, Charlie and his family moved to North Grafton in 1943. He graduated from Grafton High School in 1944.
His entrepreneurship started early. He began selling shoes door to door shortly after high school and went on to start a Walk-Rite Shoe store and Taylor Rental Center in North Grafton. He eventually expanded and built the North Grafton Shopping Center during the 1950s.
In 1958, he founded the weekly newspaper, the Grafton News, and was its editor and publisher until 2012 when he sold the business. During that time, he kept a watchful eye on the town and its politics, striving to guide the community without hurting anyone in the process. He continued to write his “Up & Down the Highways” column until two weeks before his passing, marking more than 55 years of continuous publication.
Charlie started the Grafton Suburban Credit Union at the North Grafton Shopping Center in 1966 and was Chief Executive Officer and Treasurer for more than 30 years. He was known for making loans to almost anyone who applied regardless of their credit history and requiring only a handshake as a promise to repay. Throughout his life, Charlie’s handshake was his word.
He served as a Warrant Officer in the 181st Infantry of the Massachusetts National Guard, demonstrating the patriotism and devotion to the United States Flag he had throughout his life. Woe to the Grafton business that had a flagpole with a worn or missing U.S. Flag.
In recent years, Charlie ensured any public gathering he attended ended with a spirited singing of “God Bless America,” with him in the lead.
Known as the unofficial “Mayor” of Grafton, Charlie dearly loved his adopted community, often calling it “the greatest town in the world.” He showed that love with civic involvement throughout his life. He initiated the purchase of the Grafton Water District, was one of the founders of the Grafton Forest Association (now the Grafton Land Trust), and served as chairman of the Grafton Finance Committee for 14 years.
At the time of his passing, he had been Community Relations Coordinator for the Grafton Job Corps for more than 25 years and a member of the Grafton Trustees of Soldiers Memorials for more than 10 years. He was on the Board of Directors of the Grafton Suburban Credit Union and the Board of the Grafton Water District, a member of the Grafton Historical Society, the Grafton Land Trust and St. Mary’s Parish of North Grafton. He was also a member of the Allen Harbor Yacht Club in Harwichport.
Charlie was recognized for his humanitarianism by the Grafton Lions Club in 1996 when he was named their “Humanitarian of the Year” and subsequently by the Lions Clubs of District 33A in 1997.
He also had a sense of humor, often strapping a giant Curious George stuffed animal into the passenger seat of his white convertible “kit” car when driving to and from community reading day at one of the schools or while taking a drive on the Cape. He’s been stopped by police for doing so, but only long enough for them to snap a photo to bring home to their children.
For as long as anyone can remember, Charlie has had a wooden sign hanging over his desk, carved with a saying he’s repeated so often it’s become synonymous with his name: “If you’re healthy, you’re wealthy.”
Charlie’s family suggests you honor and remember him with memorial donations to The Grafton Food Bank, PO Box 324, Grafton MA 01519 in lieu of flowers.
Mass & Calling Hours: A Funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday August 26th at 10:30 am at his Parish Church of St. Mary, 17 Waterville St. North Grafton. All attending the Mass are respectfully requested to meet at St. Mary’s Church. He will then be laid to rest next to his parents at St. Philips Cemetery in Grafton. All are welcome to honor Charlie and visit with his family at calling hours at THE RONEY FUNERAL HOME 152 Worcester St. North Grafton Sunday August 25th from 3 to 8 pm. A condolence book may be signed and directions are available at: http://www.roneyfuneralhome.com