The Finest Man I Ever Met

    Beloved Friend, brother, scholar, teacher, and one with plants and animals, Charles Oxman was a unique, loving, and much loved individual.

    Charles Oxman was a scholar, so serious and formal at first, so playful once he called you a friend. He retire from Middlesex County College as a chemistry department member. There he had served as a biology department chair, Faculty Union Grievance Chair and negotiations team member. Prof. Oxman lived in Old Bridge, NJ and is survived by his sister Suzie Gardnier, two nieces, and their children, all of Georgia. Contrary to rumor, Charles did not have identical twin sisters living in Hong Kong.

    Charles survived the death of his dear friend and cat Tiger, the cat adopted by Charlie’s former cat Biggie Mun. Tiger and Charles were best friends. Their favorite game involved a magazine which Charles would pull away as the cat would paw the pages to created a delightful tearing sound and smiles on Charlie’s face. They spent many a hour watching tv or a movie with the cat sitting in Charles’s lap as Tiger was gently stroked.

    In his retirement Charles worked in his garden, read, helped Mike with chemistry, worked on Vinik Marine books and invoices, helped with the restoration of the Dorothy Elizabeth, collected stamps and coins, watched his movies, followed current events, and studied history, baseball, and film. He chose not to take the “career opportunity” as a Delicious Orchards salad maker. He chose to make Christmas abundantly special each year bringing gifts and pies. He enjoyed dinners with Dom and Len, breakfast with Frank, discussions he had with Charlie about making wine and the Feast, phone calls with Melissa, the jokes and stories Mark told him, the salad and food Mike and Dottie made on holidays, the bread Kippy baked, the trivia and news items Nicky found, the steel boat that Michael dreamed about one summer, the Saturday afternoon childhood trips to the movies with Dit and Bumpy Boyce, the time spent at the “Sale” – Englishtown to the rest of us – watching Whitie yell “Bitch, You want some onions, Bitch?” as he pulled his cigar stub from his mouth.

    He took care of Michael’s hamster as well as his Jeep. He recalled Henry Zlotkin’s pockets full of notes and the particulars of Michael’s newest jeep or boat. He enjoyed the yellow roses he grew in his back yard and the never ending adventures Michael had with Al Bear Cub, Mark the Mudder, John the Crasher, John the Watz King, and Robin Red Breast (all nicknamed by Charles). He remembered each person he met and cared about how each was getting along. He always asked how someone was and “Have you called so-and-so lately?”

    He loved meaningful, well-acted, movies like "12 Angry Men," "Inherit the Wind," "Steel Magnolias," "Driving Miss Daisy," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "The Story of Adriene Messenger," "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "Gunga Din," and Charlie Chan. He loved , Zane Gray, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and GOOD Mummy movies – not those where mummies blew into dust – but the kind where the mummy moves slowly with his arm tied to his chest and you are still scared. He loved Benny Hill, and Abbot and Costello, and George Carlin.

    He loved picking someone’s brain in the explanation of things or events – the difference between AC and DC current generation, when and if a woman would be US president, how you set a car’s clock.

    Charles always forgot his birthday! But he never forgot anyone else’s. The gifts he gave to others were top of the line, spectacular. The gifts he received he often put away. His joy was more in watching someone else unwrap and receive their gift than receiving one himself.

    Charlie never forgot the Marine Corps Birthday – November 10th. He was a scholar who ended up in the Marines. A Korean War draftee, he became an “Ethiopian Idiot” with the rest of his platoon at Fort LaJune, Paris Island. He served in Supply and traveled to Japan through a typhoon. His Marine Corps stories were things that always brought a smile to his face and he enjoyed their retelling.

    Charles Oxman loved and respected Michael Vinik. The esteem and love Mike Vinik has for Charles can only be matched by the love and esteem Charles Oxman had for Mike. At times they were like two children. At times they were very much two adults. They supported and admired and loved each other. Charlie was proud of what Mike had achieved and would be both proud and honored to know Mike's vessel bears his name. Charlie’d stay in the background, maybe cross his arms, and smile.

    Captain Johannson of SUNY Maritime sent a card to Mike. The card reads:

“Success is measured not only in achievements ... but in lessons learned, lives touched, and moments shared along the way.”

    He wrote: “Dear Mike,

“Congratulations and good luck with your new vessel and fleet expansion. Your success is an inspiration to all and especially the cadets at Maritime; we are very proud of you! ... If I were to sum up Mike Vinik in one word it would be passion. Everything you do is with your whole heart; at school, at work, and at life. Although Charles Oxman and I never met, as a friend of yours I’m sure that I would have liked him very much. Again, good luck, congratulations, and God bless the Charles Oxman. -- With regards your friend, Eric.

    The "Charles Oxman" is an achievement for Michael and a success for Charles. Most in this world are not honored by having a tug named for them, but then, most in this world have not touched lives the way Charles touched Michael’s or those of us who knew him.

    May we, those who knew Charlie and those who know him only through Michael, enjoy this shared moment. Think of Charlie’s twin sisters in Hong Kong and Whitie shouting "Bitch." May we think of Charlie's scholarship, his humility, his love of animals, plants, and children, his smile as he stepped back from the crowd and watched, and his love and respect for Mike Vinik.

    May this page serve to honor Charlie, to remember who he was and how he touched the lives of friends, students, colleagues and family members. May it introduce Charles Oxman to the crews of the "Charles Oxman" and Vinik Marine, and to the community who works in New York Harbor.

    God bless the Charles Oxman, namesake of Charles Oxman, the finest man I ever met.