Memorial Spaceflights

Charles Robert Bramhall

"Lets see What's out there...engage!"
1963 - 2019
Charles “Charlie” Robert Bramhall
I’ll fly a starship across the Universe… But I will remain…”
10/20/1963 – 04/05/19
Presented by John F. Rittenhouse

 

Those who know and love this special man understand why Linda, his beloved bride and best friend finds lyrics from the song “Highwayman” so appropriate as we approach the Enterprise flight for Charlie’s final journey. (Highwayman lyrics © White Oak Songs, Seventh Son Music Inc., Nivek Yash Music)

As Charlie’s brother-in-law and friend, Linda honored me in presenting this insight. I join her in sharing the fourth verse to begin this brief look into who Charles R. Bramhall was and where his journey continues. As follows:

            “I’ll fly a starship… Across the Universe divide,

            And when I reach the other side,

            I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can…

            Perhaps I may become a highwayman again,

            Or I may simply be a single drop of rain… But I will remain.

            And I’ll come back again, and again…”

The lyrics inspire thoughts about Charlie’s life and person, yet so much more to those who were privileged to know him—not in what he accomplished, but who he was. The sheer fact that he will spend his journey in flight across the universe with “Scotty”, “Uhura” and the Roddenberrys is surreal, yet fitting. When you know him, you understand that “to boldly go where no one has gone before…” are not just words for Charles—he boldly lived a life of going and exploring.

This tribute is not about degrees and deeds, rather—his life and journey. While Charles did climb the heights of corporate platitude, built private enterprise, traveled the globe, invented multiple patents, and conquered world benchmarks--living well and retiring young. His bold journey of no fear is about what Charlie ultimately discovered in his passions that marked his living, and those he touched.

Charlie would never speak of his accomplishments, or brag of success. No, not Charles. He was wearied by the measured platitudes frequently applauded by the masses. After selling his last business, one might find it difficult in simply locating him—unless you knew.

He loved to spend time in their lovely Georgia home located in the foothills outside Atlanta, GA--cooking and creating with Linda, playing “ball” with Ellie Mae, or tinkering in his teched out basement. Often, he could be found simply hanging out with family or trekking a path to his cabin near the Chattooga River. He was a Sci-fi fanatic, embracing Star Trek, among other shows, movies, and real tech advancements. Further, he deeply enjoyed anything he could make go— or “engage.” Jet skis, drones, his jeep and the RV--to mention a few.

Charlie’s loyal companions were always near—the Dobermans and then the German Shepherds— faithful Murphy, precious Tessa, lovable Ernie and his last dog-child, the ever-loyal Ellie Mae. Chasing, laying at his feet or enticing Charlie into a game of “ball.” After tinkering in his “teched-out” basement, he would sneak off to the cabin in the rolling mountains of Georgia near the Chattooga River. The cabin was his tabernacle of healing where he, Ellie Mae and often his wife would join him for a few days, or weeks and honestly, sometimes “the who knew when he would return--stay-cations!” If you were fortunate to join him for a stay in his “sanctuary” in the hills, the visit included lots of grilling, shooting, talking, music, dogs and of course, running the rapids with Charlie on the Chattooga River, or simply take a hike along the rocky banks. In whatever form, you always felt honored, and served by the beautiful heart of a brilliant man.  

Another great passion of music included his guitar collection, not to look at, but to play and enjoy. If he knew you played, you better not forget your guitar! Family time would often include sitting around the deck or living room with guitars, while joyfully playing, singing, and just being silly. And yes, the dogs were a part of the fun, with a few good friends, food and drink accompanying these special, intimate and playful times.

At the center of his great loves—family! His wife, his dogs, his friends, and his entire family. All of his family felt special when Charles was nearby. Indeed, he was a great son, wonderful brother, caring Uncle and often a Dad, or 2nd Dad to so many. If you were sick, he was there. If you were in trouble, he lent his hand and heart to get you through. If you stumbled, he would help you back up. His sisters knew him as best friend and loyal guide. His big brother knew him as his safe confidant and faithful voice. His parents--always proud of Charlie, but he loved them simply because they completed his heart. As his brother-in-law, it was all love, and no law. He was a confidant and a friend—always. And Charles didn’t just love all of us, he needed us and desired family above all.

In Charles final years, he in fact became a “Highwayman.” Charlie loved is Bounder RV, often hitting the road with Ellie Mae, and his teched out rig! It became his “starship” if you will. The man became a mobile friend to family in need—regardless of distance.  Charles traveled boldly to every sphere of life. Often you wouldn’t know he was coming, and when he completed his purpose—he would be off to another adventure or a return to his home or sanctuary. He lived freely in his journey of touching each of us and finding adventure in the next mile.

Extreme? At times. Eccentric? Maybe… just a little. Unafraid to love and give? Always--with passion.

Meditations mingled with tears have been profoundly experienced in preparing this tribute. In this deep place a recurring vision stirred in my mind from the movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The storyline features the logical and accomplished Spock. Intrigued by the power, logic, and knowledge of an alien--V’Ger. In a selfless and dangerous act, Spock mind-meld’s with V’ger, sending him into an unconscious state. His closest friends are near when he awakens. An inquiry by Kirk reveals truth realized by Spock.

We see Spock gently take Kirk’s hand in this intimate revelation. Thoughts Charles embraced, and now, continues--securing the final journey of truth. Truncated excerpts as follows:

            -Spock speaks:

“Jim… This simple feeling… Is so far beyond V’gers’ comprehension … A life form of its own; a conscious, living entity … I saw V’gers’ planet: a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. V’ger has knowledge that spans this universe. …And in all this order … all this magnificence, V’ger feels no awe… no delight… no beauty…”

“I should have known… Jim, it’s looking for answers … Is this all I am? Is there not more?”

-Kirk responds:

“A machine planet…? Sending a machine to Earth looking for its Creator…? ‘To find the Creator’ the probe said. Find God…?”

-McCoy whispers:

“God… Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do…?”

Concluding my portion of this tribute, Charlie now prepares for his “continuing mission--to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Charles lived well, he loved better, and now, he confidently has connected with the Creator in the ultimate journey we will all take. Uniquely, his final flight on this Enterprise mission, is fitting to the man we know and love as the ultimate explorer of the known. Now, in his farewell trip, Charlie evolves into the “highwayman to the stars.” Live long and prosper, dear friend.

*****

Tribute by Linda Bramhall:

Dear Charlie,

As the Enterprise launch date nears, a few thoughts dominate. Every so often I'd hear you say, "I just want to be somebody's hero."

I find that so ironic. Here's why.

What you failed to understand was that to the friend or family member experiencing a medical or financial crisis... to the scores of people whose jobs you rescued from the chopping block... to the boy in sudden need of a mentor... you already were a hero! You possessed a hero's heart and time and time again, when a need arose, you found a way to fulfill it.

And then your time on earth came to an abrupt end.

Damn.

But, now... You're a different sort of hero. This time you are a hero to science, to the future of space exploration, to the 8 billion gravity-bound souls on this planet. You, Charlie, are an everlasting "carbon based unit" on a new Enterprise mission of space exploration, a valued crew member (perhaps helping Scotty in engineering). You and your fellow crew will become silent goodwill ambassadors (of sorts) to the solar system and, maybe, beyond.

One last thought... You're now a character in a new science fiction story! So, collaborate with the Roddenberrys, use your imagination, and create an inspiring tale worthy of another Star Trek sequel!

And now, Darling Charlie, I lovingly whisper, "Bon Voyage" as your starship begins its mission, destination... "the other side."

With love, always and forever, Linda

 

The Highwaymen - "Highwayman"

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