CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- He was the strong, silent type, who mentored dozens of aspiring TV directors, master control technicians and camera operators. Charles Millirons Sr., one of Channel 3's longest-serving employees died Wednesday night at the age of 76. We knew him as "Charlie" from his 37-year career at WRCB, from 1960 until his retirement in 1997.
Charlie and his wife Marjorie were involved in a two-vehicle accident on the evening of Sunday October 17 on Jenkins Road. Both were hospitalized with critical injuries, and spent several weeks in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Charlie could not recover from multiple fractures, a collapsed lung and other injuries. Marjorie, 78, passed away from her injuries, two days later on Friday morning. They were married 53 years.
A Chattanooga Police Department spokesperson says the investigation is continuing into whether the driver of the other vehicle, a 16-year-old female, will be charged. The police report states that the young driver had veered into the Millirons' side of the road.
1997 retirement party
When we said goodbye to Charlie in 1997, we honored him with a surprise party. Dozens of his colleagues, past and present, came to wish him well. They thanked him for teaching them how to direct live television, how to organize a film library, and how to run a studio camera. Those of us who work on the other side of the camera thanked him for making us look good, and for taking good care of our viewers for 37 years. He helped make the transition from our original studio on McCallie Avenue to our current facility on Whitehall Road. He was here when we made the long-awaited switch from black-and-white to color. He did it all with his ever-present unlit cigar, a smile, and a kind word.
Life outside the studio
Charlie also had a busy life and career outside the TV studios. He was an avid football fan, often seen cheering for the Mocs and the Crimson Tide. He and Marjorie raised a great family, still making a positive impact in Chattanooga's civic and religious communities. They ran a successful family daycare program, praised by parents and children alike.
Among his proudest accomplishments was a program inspired by his work at East Ridge Church of Christ, where he was a deacon. For the past 33 years, he and Marjorie worked with students in Bible Correspondence courses. Keeping meticulous files, they graded the work of students from across the country in eight courses, celebrating their achievements, and as Charlie said, "making a difference in their lives."
Tributes from colleagues and friends
Tributes from Charlie's colleagues and friends have appeared on Facebook as news of his death spread. Bill Buchanan, a former WRCB production manager now in Texas wrote, "Charlie was a great guy with a wonderful attitude. The number of rookies who learned the ropes under his tutelage are in the hundreds if not thousands. He will be greatly missed."
Former WRCB producer and webmaster Mike Andrews, now at UTC, wrote "Charlie was a class act and had great stories about the early days of Channel 3. He told me he had to direct a show live on Sundays, and he was the only one in Master Control. So how did control the camera, as well as the audio at the same time? He rigged a mop handle to reach the sound board!"
Brenda Latham, a family friend wrote, "You just didn't get any better than Charlie Millirons. Our community has lost a great and very humble man."
Funeral arrangements pending
All of us in the WRCB family send our thoughts and prayers to the Millirons family in their time of loss. A memorial service for Mr. and Mrs. Millirons will be announced in the near future.