Obituary of Charles Godet-Ceraolo

April 3, 2020

Charles Peter Ceraolo was born on March 18, 1943 in Astoria Queens to Rose and Frank Ceraolo. On April 3, 2020 he died of covid-19, leaving behind his beloved wife, Rain Godet-Ceraolo, as well as Thelmalee, Francesca, Alice and Spring, his sisters-in-laws; nieces and nephews Tom, Brendan, Naomi, Sharon, Lina, Debby, and James; and eight great nieces and nephews. Rain and Charlie met at a Beethoven concert and knew immediately that theirs would be an enduring love story. They married on his birthday 42 years ago and remained inseparable. They frequently dressed in matching T-shirts, their favorite displaying the music of a Beethoven piano concerto in celebration of the music that united them. Their most recent T-shirts read "Just Do It."
Charlie graduated with a degree in philosophy from NYU and was a true renaissance man whose interests, intellect, depth of knowledge and skills encompassed many fields. He was a gifted photographer and an early computer whiz. His personality was expansive and generous, and he thrived on helping others. Charlie had a strong, mellifluous voice and always had something to say. He was well read on nearly every serious subject. Charlie was fun to disagree with, though he argued out of conviction, not for its own sake. He never was angry or petty, and when things got too heated, his so there it is release valve, big smile and deep laugh were instant dissipators. Conversations and time spent with him was invariably stimulating. At one restaurant a gentleman at a neighboring table leaned over to share that he was more interested in overhearing Charlie's conversation than what was going on at his own.
Charlie was an informal neighborhood captain and mensch. He seemed to have a friendly smile and kind word for everyone he interacted with. He knew something about them and was there to help when he could. With his large personality, flowing beard, and booming voice he couldn't be missed. He maintained a close online community as well. For many years his passion was tutoring youth at the Clarendon Public Library, where he was Mister Charlie to the kids he tutored. He loved spending time with them and seeing them grow. Some of the little ones wondered out loud if they were with Santa Claus as he let them give a gentle tug on his beard. As their academic challenges increased, he regularly took out library books and did online research into things he hadn't studied since he was in school, or that he never studied, sometimes because they didn't exist when he was in school. The children's solvable problems could not be left unsolved and answerable questions could not be left unanswered. Some are now adults, and one is in medical school. His students, whom he sometimes referred to as his grandbabies, maintained a lasting relationship with him, sending birthday cards and letters of appreciation, letting him know how meaningful his contributions had been to their lives.
In recent years, Charlie played an important role in serving and uniting the family. When our matriarch, Thelmalee, was no longer able to, he graciously assumed the responsibility of gathering the family together. Charlie was unfailingly patient and supportive of Rain and, this last year or so, her sister Thelmalee. Rain's idiosyncrasies were endearing to him. She depended on him, and, in different ways, he depended on her. She gave him purpose. Theirs has been a wonderfully successful and loving relationship. He will be greatly missed. Fare thee well, Charlie.

Share a Memory

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May you rest in peace Charlie.


Posted by: Al Sandoval - Gainesville, FL - April 13, 2020

So sorry for your loss. May his memory be a blessing.

Posted by: Anna Panettiere - new york, NY - April 13, 2020

Charlie, you touched many lives and will be missed. I am so sorry you can't be honored properly at this time. We are thinking of you.

Posted by: Naomi Sandoval - Gainesville, FL - April 13, 2020

Lovely, sad, and beautiful. I will dearly treasure this Memorial, I feel so grateful and privileged to have been part of Charlie's family.

Posted by: Thelma Meyer Meyer - Brooklyn NY, NY - April 13, 2020

You spread so much light in the world. And your light still shines. If there is a promised land - your light will shine on there. Rain and I miss you.

Posted by: Thelma Meyer Meyer - Brooklyn NY, NY - April 14, 2020

I am so sorry we cannot gather to honor the loss of Charlie and comfort Rain in person. I cannot fathom what this loss means to Rain, and our family will be poorer for Charlie's absence.

Posted by: Lina Lewis-Arevalo - , NJ - April 14, 2020

In the time I have known Charlie he has always been an empathetic, ebullient person. His loquaciousness and joy in sharing made every family reunion brighter. He animated the conversation with his enthusiasm and unforgettable laugh, spreading joy to the occasion.

I appreciated the time I spent with Charlie, from his loud, robust "Hi, Jose" to his interesting conversation, as well as his annual happy birthday serenade call in duet with Rain. All that is left for me to say is Adios, Charlie, we'll see each other again and enjoy a draft to celebrate.

Posted by: Jose Zegarra - Miami Beach, FL - April 16, 2020

Charlie, I salute you on a life well spent. Your largesse of spirit brightened all whose lives you touched. Thank you for your kindness to my sisters Rain and Thelmalee, and to all the students whose outcomes will be better because of your caring involvement. You are in our hearts for always.

Posted by: Spring Lite - Miami Beach, FL - April 16, 2020

I'm sharing a memory of Charlie's kindness and special character. Whenever I was in town, he and my aunt Rain would meet up with me and treat me to breakfast at the local Starbucks, where they were regulars. He knew all the staff by name and when the staff saw them coming, they'd start in on their order, which saved time while they got their table and chairs set up and stood in line and so on.

This "being a regular" thing was typical of pretty much anywhere he frequented more than once because he always took the time to get to know people.

He always sort of laughingly "complained" (too strong a word...lamented?) that being a regular was a problem in that you could never change your order. He would tell me what it was that he actually would like to be eating at that moment while he uncomplainingly tucked into what he'd been served.

Posted by: Naomi Sandoval - Gainesville, FL - April 21, 2020

Mr. Charlie was such a pillar to the library and the community. He made the library a brighter place to be and the kids really loved him. This is such a loss for so many. May his memory be a blessing.

Posted by: Cynthia Vrabel - Brooklyn, NY - June 16, 2020