Charles's Story

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Car dealer and local business leader Charles M. Conkle Jr., 80, Kokomo, passed away on Dec. 12, 2017, in his home, surrounded by family, following an extended illness. He was born Sept. 13, 1937, in Kokomo, to Charles and Waneata (Rayl) Conkle. On June 29th, 1958, Charles "Charlie" married his high school sweetheart Jerrajean Wolfe (JJ) at Grace United Methodist Church in Kokomo, and they enjoyed 59 years of marriage.
Charlie was a 1955 graduate of Kokomo High School, and he has remained in close contact with the KHS DIV club members over the years, enjoying their annual golf outings. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a B.S. degree in business in 1960, and was a member of Sigma Chi social fraternity. He also served in the Army Reserves in 1957.
Charlie joined his father's car dealership business, Charles Conkle Motor Co., in 1960, and he began serving as dealer principal in 1965. Over the span of 50 years, Charlie expanded the dealership to include both the Pontiac and GMC franchises, moved the dealership from downtown Kokomo to the Conkle Pontiac GMC Superstore site on Markland Ave., and built the business to become the largest Pontiac dealership in Indiana. In 2003, Charlie was recognized by Time Magazine, earning the Quality Car Dealer of the Year Award. Charlie subsequently served in management roles at Mike Raisor Auto Group in Lafayette, Lockhart Auto Group in Indianapolis and Crestmont Auto Group in Brunswick, Ohio. Charlie dedicated his life to the car business, and he continued working through his 80th birthday.
Charlie participated in the General Motors President's Council, was district director and also president of the Automobile Dealer Association of Indiana, was VP of Central Indiana Pontiac Pack, served as president of the Kokomo Car Dealers Association and as St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Board President.
Charlie was known for his ever present sense of humor and joke telling, strong love and loyalty to his family and his many interests which included auto racing, pro bass fishing, IU basketball and Colts football. He especially enjoyed spending time at the lake with his family, spending many summers at Lake Freeman and more recently at Lake Maxincuckee with his children and grandchildren. He was a lifelong boater, and he enjoyed captaining boat excursions to Key West, Captiva and Marco Island with friends and family. Charlie was a passionate fan of the Indianapolis 500, an event that he attended for 70 consecutive years from 1947 through 2017.
Survivors include his wife, JJ; two daughters, Ann (Brad) Cohen, West Lafayette, and Abby (Lance) Weatherby, Atlanta, Georgia; son, Charles (Chuck) Conkle III, Kokomo; six grandchildren, Jake and Sarah Cohen, West Lafayette, Kate and Jack Weatherby, Atlanta, Georgia, and Charles "Charlie" IV and Johnny Conkle, Kokomo.
Charlie was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Waneata.
The funeral service will be on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at 1 p.m. at Shirley & Stout Funeral Home & Crematory, 1315 W. Lincoln Road, Kokomo, with Mick Owens officiating. Private burial will take place in Crown Point Cemetery at a later date. Visitation will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made in Charlie's name to The American Cancer Society. Messages of condolence may be left online at www.shirleyandstout.com.
Published on December 13, 2017
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