Charles Martin Mears

April 20, 1931February 11, 2020

Charles Martin Mears (Dad), was born in 1931 in Niles, Ohio, the youngest of six children of James Mears and Rose Marti, and grew up in Warren, Ohio. He was 14 years younger than his closest sibling. He was the only one of his siblings to graduate from college, which he paid for by running a food truck and giving ballroom dancing lessons, among other ventures. After setting out to be a dentist, he graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in public relations and marketing. He served in the U.S. Army near the end of the Korean war, writing press releases and booking entertainment for the troops at Fort Knox, where he met his wife, Debelou, a music teacher from Harlan County, Kentucky. Dad worked in the advertising department of Western Auto for more than 30 years. He was a longtime member of St. Catherine’s where he attended daily Mass. After he retired, he added walking around the church parking lot to his daily discipline, a habit that probably contributed to the good health he enjoyed until the last few months.

In our family, there were no “girls’ chores” and “boys’ chores.” Our father helped teach all six of us to cook and sew, and required us to learn how to mow the lawn and change a tire. When we were young, he’d round us all up on Saturday mornings to clean the house. He taught us all to make a bed with hospital corners, a skill he learned in the Army.

Every Sunday, he would take all of us to Mass while my mother stayed home for an hour by herself. Then, while Mom was at Mass, he would choose one helper a week to make Sunday breakfast, which always included a special treat, such as cinnamon rolls, biscuits or scones.

Mom and Dad fostered a love of reading in all of us. Every Saturday, Dad would take us to the library, where each child old enough to have a library card could check out 10 books. He showed us that reading broadens our minds and our skills. Following instructions he found in library books, he once knitted a doll’s dress, and later built a bedroom and a bathroom in our basement.

He encouraged us to try new things, bringing home random sporting equipment from Western Auto, such as tennis rackets and an early pair of inline skates. He made several attempts at building an ice rink in the backyard. He also bought home an accordion that no one ever learned to play, and attempted to form a family singing group.

Our mother loved Christmas. Easter was Dad’s time to shine. To find our Easter baskets, we had to follow a string of clues, presented in picturegrams when we were little. Those became riddles once everyone could read. Deciphering his handwriting was sometimes more difficult than solving the riddle. Once he had grandchildren, he brought back this tradition; the tradition lives on.

Dad was the king of napping. He could nap any time, any place, including on the living room floor surrounded by screaming children. Neighbors once came over to check on him when he decided to take a nap in the driveway, apparently while he was supposed to be watching the kids play outside. Dad was rarely rattled and he was never in a hurry. He drove our mother crazy by refusing to leave early for anything, but calculated to the minute how to arrive exactly on time. After shows at Starlight, we’d hang around afterward, watching the company strike the sets, to avoid the traffic. One of the lessons we learned is that driving aggressively isn’t worth the aggravation.

Despite having many interests, Dad didn’t really have any hobbies. He liked to work, and he liked the challenge of running his own businesses. He tried real estate, Amway, and various sales ventures. He made “vision boards” and engaged in affirmations years before those became trendy things to do. When he retired from Western Auto, he became the online arm of Action-Sports and Gaming. He learned how to sell internationally on eBay and Amazon, and at 88 he was working on his newest business, music pins he had had manufactured in China.

Dad was big on teaching responsibility, especially financial responsibility. He encouraged all of us to work from an early age. When one of us – or maybe one of the neighborhood kids – put a softball through his bedroom window, he stepped outside, said “That’ll be $60,” and turned and went back inside. He had put himself through college, and he expected us to do the same.

He shared financial advice with us all our lives. Several of us became entrepreneurs. He continued sharing financial wisdom with the next generation, tutoring his grandchildren on stocks and bonds while he taught them elementary school math.

All tutoring sessions with the grandchildren, whether in chess, math or general life wisdom, were followed by ice cream sundaes and/or cookies. But it couldn’t be just any ice cream. To the day he died, Dad remained convinced that the cheap ice cream in the big tubs was superior to all others. This was one of many strong opinions he had on everything from how women should dress to the best brand of toilet paper.

While Dad was very set in his ways, and was sure he always knew the best way to do everything from cooking spaghetti to starting a business, he wasn’t afraid to try new things. He learned to play the banjo – well kind of – when he was in his late 60s. At 85, after our mother died, he moved to an independent living community in Florida (after extensive research that required detailed spreadsheets), changed his name from Chuck to Charles, took up painting and, for the first time in his life, cultivated a group of friends. He returned to Kansas City last May.

He leaves five children, Teresa Mears of Wilton Manors, Florida; Karen Hohe (Marc) of Independence, Missouri; Mary Theobald (Scott) of Raymore, Missouri; Nancy Crawford (Fred) of Hardin, Missouri; and Jim Mears (Tracy) of Kansas City, Missouri; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Debelou, his daughter, Julie (John) and his grandson, Rusty.

There will be a memorial Mass at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 22, at St. Catherine of Sienna Church, 4101 E 105th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64137.

In honor of his life, the family suggests you share a cookie or an ice cream Sunday with a loved one, using the ice cream you believe is the best.


  • Memorial Mass Saturday, February 22, 2020


Charles Martin Mears

have a memory or condolence to add?

Pam Poore

February 22, 2020

Karen, what a beautiful story your family has told. Your dad sounds like a very grounded, loving, responsible and respected man. I know you are missing him so much. A beautiful legacy. May God comfort you and yours during this time. Hugs and blessings.

William Rush

February 18, 2020

We are truly sorry to hear of the loss of your father. Please accept our condolences and may our prayers bring comfort.