Charles “Chuck” Preisch, age 74, beloved husband of Halle; dear father of Sada (Steven), Genie (Daniel), and Will (Sara); beloved grandfather of Sora, Maxine and Liam, Ziggy and Rex; and dear brother of Jim, Cindy, Rob, and Debbie, passed away January 29, 2024, after a short hospitalization following a car accident.
Chuck was really looking forward to 2024. He would have been 75 years old in May, 45 years sober in June, and 50 years married in November. He hoped to celebrate with a visit back to Cleveland to eat at his favorite restaurants and play poker with some of his favorite people.
Chuck grew up in Lockport, NY, the second of Bob and Shirley Preisch’s five children. A social kid who always had a way with people, he was elected to student council in junior high and made it to State in wrestling in high school. He and his brother Jim were in the local drum and bugle corps. The family thought he’d grow up to be a lawyer because he was so good at BS-ing.
Chuck dropped out of high school in May of his senior year and did a stint in the Navy aboard the USS Bluefish submarine. He eventually returned to school and earned a degree in Education, working primarily with children with special needs.
He met his future wife, Halle, while they were both counselors at Cradle Beach, a camp for disadvantaged and/or disabled kids. They married after five months of dating and miraculously stayed in love for the next 50 years. They raised their three children in Cleveland Heights. Chuck never missed a sports event or awards ceremony, and helped coach both Will and Genie’s softball teams. He loved taking the family to Indians games.
After a few years of teaching, Chuck realized he wanted to be his own boss. He had fond memories of working at Pontillo’s Pizza growing up and decided to enter the restaurant business. With two maxed-out credit cards, a lot of enthusiasm, and little practical experience, he opened Chuck’s Breakfast & Lunch on Larchmere in November 1981. The tasty food, low prices, and Chuck’s infectious personality proved to be a winning combination. He went on to own and operate greasy spoons in several locations, the most beloved of which was Chuck’s Diner in its two spots on Lee Rd. Many of the diner’s regulars were part of the local recovery community, of which Chuck was a very active member. The diner employed high schoolers, the newly sober, and the recently released from jail, among others. Chuck was generous to a fault, handing out large Christmas bonuses, and giving employees second, third, and sometimes fourth chances. He loved interacting with customers and providing great service. For kids, he’d serve Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes using a Mickey Mouse voice and squirt whipped cream straight into their hands. He could often be heard whistling and singing—loudly, off-key, with creative lyrics—and drumming on any available surface. The diner made him a local celebrity in the Heights, recognized every time he was out. He made legendary appearances at school Career Days, counting out the $1,000 he always kept in his wallet (up to his dying day!) and handing out Guest Check pads the kids could take home. His passion for customer service was rivaled only by his passion for buying and selling vehicles—lifetime total unknown but surely nearing the triple digits. “Turbo Chuck” owned at least four red Saab convertibles alone.
After 30 years in Cleveland, Chuck and Halle moved to Portland, OR, to be closer to their kids. Chuck was thrilled to be a grandpa—or Baba, as he was known to his grandkids. He came out of retirement multiple times to deliver pizzas, drive for Uber and Lyft, and work as a security guard. He made a short-lived but very memorable contribution to Portland’s food truck scene as the Hot Dog Doctor, dressed in a hot dog costume with a stethoscope, asking customers, “How can I doctor that for you?” He and Halle enjoyed taking trips to the Oregon Coast and going on vacations with the whole family. Chuck read four books a week and did the crossword with a pen (but also a lot of White-Out). The staff at Baskin-Robbins greeted him with, “Hey, Chuck! The regular?” To entertain the grandkids (and themselves) during Covid lockdown, he and Halle made Peppa Pig videos. He portrayed Peppa of course, with a voice that was suspiciously similar to his Mrs. Doubtfire imitation. Baba had weekly fast food dates with the older grandkids, played chess with Liam, and cheered on Maxine at her volleyball games. He was overjoyed when Sada and Will both recently added babies to the Preisch crew. Chuck loved all babies, but especially his grandbabies. He never missed a chance to tell his family that he loved them.
Please consider contributing directly to the family to cover the unexpected costs related to Chuck’s passing. These kind contributions can be addressed to Halle and safely sent through Brown-Forward. Alternatively, please consider contributing to the Cleveland Central office of AA, 1557 St. Clair Ave. NE, Cleveland OH 44114.
There will be a Celebration of Chuck's life July 27th, from 3PM-6PM, with a chance to share at 4:30PM, at Halle's Brother and sister-in-law's house (Herrick and Lisa Mann), at 27700 No. Woodland Road, Pepper Pike, OH 44124.