Charles J. Panuska dies at 83
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 10:51

Optimist leader named Citizen of the Year in 1981

by John G. Bailey

    Longtime Eastfield Road resident and community volunteer Charles Joseph “Chuck” Panuska died on Dec. 30 at the age of 83.
    He was perhaps best well known for his involvement in the Optimist Club of Dundalk. He joined the club in 1964 and had served in every position in the organization, including lieutenant governor and governor of the Maryland/South Delaware district and vice president of Optimist Club International.
    As an Optimist Club member, he was instrumental in organizing the Dundalk Independence Day Parade for 17 years. “He worked day and night all year long for the parade,” his son Keith recalled.
    His other community activities included serving as president of the Eastfield Civic Association for 10 years, coaching Eastfield youth baseball and football teams and serving as Cub Scout Pack master for Pack 898.
    In 1981, the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year in recognition of his service to the community.
    “He was an organizer, motivator and a friend to everyone he met,” Keith said. “He had a way of asking people for help and you couldn’t say no.”
    In 2009, he was inducted in the Drum and Bugle Corps Hall of Fame. He belonged to the group from 1938 to 1951 and was one of the main organizers of the St. Michael’s Drum and Bugle Corps. He became a co-director of the organization in 1949. During his tenure, he instituted an all-girl color guard.
    He was also a member of the Dundalk Jaycees and Dundalk American Legion Post 38.
    The son of the late Joseph and Barbara Panuska was born in Baltimore.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954 in the Army Security Agency, earning the rank of sergeant.
    As a young man, he was employed as a draftsman at the Cummins-Wagner Company in Baltimore, Sikorski Helicopter in Hartford, Conn., and Martin Marietta in Middle River.
    He then worked in the Baltimore City department of property location for 38 years, retiring as supervisor in 1992.
    Wife Shirley Panuska, his partner in community activities, survives him. The couple met as members of the Drum and Bugle Corps and were married 61 years. Also surviving him are children Charles Alan Panuska, Katherine Ann Harlow and Keith Bernard Panuska, brother Rev. Joseph Alan Panuska S.J., seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. 
    Siblings John and William Punuska and Mary Ann Grzymala preceded him in death.
    A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated at St. Rita Roman Catholic Church, where he was a member and served as lecturer. Interment was at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery.