Charles Francis Canning Jr. of Augusta, Maine, passed away peacefully on Nov. 13, 2018, with loved ones by his side.
Born in Portland, Maine in 1935 to Charles Francis Canning Sr. and Alice Mullen Canning, Charlie was the third child of Irish immigrants. He was educated at nearby St. Mary's School and Cony High School before graduating from St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts. From there, he studied finance at Providence College. Upon graduating, Charlie received a commission in the United States Navy as a Supply Officer in the Seventh Fleet covering Asia and the Western Pacific. He married Geraldine McDonough in 1956, and they raised six children.
In 1941, Charlie’s father opened a distribution business in his garage on Pleasant Street that would later become Pine State Trading. Charlie joined his father in the business in 1960, and so began the career of one of the most successful businessmen in the industry.
Over the next several decades, Charlie and his brother Jack would lead and grow their thriving family business into the third generation. Charlie attributed Pine State’s tremendous growth and success to its team of the best sales, marketing and logistics people to be found anywhere.
Most people who knew Charlie Canning− and certainly those of us who loved him− remember him for his nobility of character, his generosity, his humor, and his intelligence. Those who knew him from the restaurants he frequented from Boothbay, to Hallowell, to Sugarloaf will remember him for his laughter and fellowship.
His core values were so numerous that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to enumerate them. The two that most stood out were the importance of family and education. He was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren, and he never missed an opportunity to express this to them.
Charlie also helped with the needs of those in his community. Together, he and his brother Jack set up the Charles Canning Sr. Scholarship Fund to assist in the education of the children of Pine State employees. Upon Charlie’s retirement, he and Jack funded an endowment at the Mitchell Institute to provide an annual scholarship for an Augusta-area student who showed passion and enthusiasm for serving their community.
Additionally, Charlie was a frequent supporter of many community fundraising efforts, including the Kennebec Valley YMCA, St. Mary’s School, and MaineGeneral Medical Center. For his work in the Kennebec Valley business community, Charlie received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2005.
The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the many wonderful caregivers for their kind and compassionate care of Charlie, especially Barbara Pinnock, Tamar Lawrence, Barbara Foster-Buchanan and Rose Hawley.
In addition to his parents, Charlie was predeceased by his aunt, Mary Knox; his son-in-law, Steven Register; and the mother of his children, Gerrie Canning.
Charlie leaves behind his significant other, Jean Kunitz; sister, Patricia Alberding; brother, Jack Canning and wife, Sunny; and children, Marybeth Canning Meiergerd and husband, David Meiergerd; Charlie Canning III; Alice Senko and husband John; Gena Canning; Keith Canning and wife Maria; and Kevin Canning and wife Priyadarshini.
He will be sadly missed by his many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends, employees and business associates.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 19, at St. Mary’s Church, 41 Western Avenue, Augusta, Maine.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to support the Kennebec Valley Boys and Girls Club, the Kennebec Valley YMCA, or the Boothbay Region YMCA.