Charlie Tamayo, 82, of Oelwein, passed away peacefully at his residence on Friday, November 18, 2011 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, November 23 at 11 a.m. at the Geilenfeld Funeral Home located at 309 First Ave. N.E. in Oelwein. The visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, also at the Geilenfeld Funeral Home. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery later this year.
Charlie was born on December 2, 1928 in LaFeria, TX. He spent his life in service to his family, community and country. For almost 20 years, he served honorably in the United States Army, including tours of duty in the Korean and Vietnam wars. In Vietnam, Charlie was put in charge of the medical clearing station in Tan An. Despite resistance from his chain of command, Charlie had to the foresight to prepare for a mass casualty event. Soon after he had secured the needed medical supplies to treat up to 50 wounded, the station received 65 serious casualties in one night. Despite being low on supplies, not one soldier died at the station. For his efforts, Charlie received a medal from the Government of South Vietnam.
After leaving the Army and settling in Oelwein in 1975, Charlie started and managed a branch office for the Northeast Iowa Mental Health Center. The center helped hundreds of local citizens deal with family, individual and substance abuse issues. In his retirement, Charlie worked with the Red Cross as a Disaster Relief coordinator. When a disaster would strike (e.g. Hurricane Andrew, 9/11), he would coordinate with local and state officials to ensure needed supplies were delivered to those in need. Often times, he would gather and distribute supplies himself.
Charlie is survived by his long time friend, Sharon Fleming of Oelwein; son Charlie Tamayo of McAllen, TX; two daughters, LaRue Thompson of San Antonio, TX and Alexis Miller of Cary, NC; two brothers, Antonio Tamayo of Laredo, TX and Roberto (Bobby) Tamayo of Oelwein; two sisters, Martha Michel of Baytown, TX and Lola Lodrique of Fort Worth, TX; nine grandchildren and eight great grand children. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Ester Kim Fields, son Charles Glenn Tamayo, two sisters and two brothers.
In lieu of sending flowers, the family has set up a memorial fund in Charlie’s name. If you wish to contribute, please send donations to the Cedar Valley Hospice c/o Charlie Tamayo, P.O. Box 2880 Waterloo, Iowa 50704-2880. The hospice nurse and staff were an incredible resource to Charlie’s family.
Charlie’s sacrifice and service will long be remembered by his family and friends. He will be missed dearly.