SARANAC LAKE - Charles "Chuck" Knox Brumley, one of the Baltimore Road Runners Club's earliest members, died of a heart attack on Feb. 20, 2010. At the time ofhis death, Chuck was 70 years old.
A graduate ofMcDonogh School when it was still a quasi-military institution (the mind reels at the incongruity of free-spirited Chuck in a military context), he went to Yale University, then to Michigan State and Towson University. He later received a master's degree in social work from the University ofMaryland and was a social worker in Baltimore City, North Carolina, and York, Pa.
Chuck was a regular runner in the late 1950s, long before the running boom. In the 1960s he competed regularly in the Run for Your Life races at the Towson YMCA. During the 1970s and 1980s he participated in BRRC and other running events at distances from the mile up to 50 miles, with a marathon best of 2:48 at Boston. Since Boston and other marathons seemed pretty conventional by 1980, Chuck added a bit of spice to his running in that year by taking five days to bicycle 400 plus miles from Baltimore to Boston to run the marathon.
Perhaps his most notable athletic accomplishment was his 33-year running streak, from 1977 until the day he died. His streak was among the longest on record.
However, Chuck was hardly a mere running zealot. At Yale he swam for the nationally acclaimed swim team, and he later used his proficiency in the water to compete in triathlons. Even before he became a runner, he was an avid cyclist and consistently placed well in Baltimore Wheelmen cycling events. His love of biking never evaporated; a few years ago, in his late 60s, he rode his bike from sea to shining sea: California to Maryland.
After his 1984 move to Saranac Lake, in the Adirondack Park, Chuck threw himself into new athletic adventures - cross-country skiing, snowshoe races, and canoeing competitions. For years, right through the 2009 event, he paddled the Adirondack Canoe Classic, a 90-mile, three-day event that draws 500 boaters from all over the world. He also became one of a small number of "46ers" - a band of more than slightly demented souls who have climbed all 46 of the Adirondack mountains over 4,000 feet.
Because even Chuck couldn't be running, hiking, boating, swimming and biking 24/7, he found other ways to while away the hours. At various times he collected Marklin and Lionel trains, jazz and bluegrass recordings, antique canoes, old ham radios, Adirondack books, and sundry hot rod and classic cars, including a Porsche 911 (eight months in the shop and two weeks on the road, as was often the case in '60s production), an MG, a couple of big-block Chevelles, an Austin-Healy Sprite (flipped on a curve even sports cars could not negotiate at the speeds Chuck favored at the time), and the sine qua non of street-legal machinery: a Shelby Cobra. (Yes, the latter can get all four wheels airbornefor significant distances at the proper vehicular velocity on York Road just south of Hereford, Md.)
Chuck's more serious and longer-lived pursuits included various construction projects, from banjos to rustic cabins, and for most of his adult life he led and/or played in jazz, folk, bluegrass and rock bands, variously playing trombone, banjo and bass. He taught history for a time at North Country Community College in the Adirondacks, and he served on the boards of libraries and charitable and environmental organizations. In addition to writing the first book-length history of Adirondack guides, Chuck himself became a licensed guide and started his own Adirondack tour company.
Chuck was a gifted writer and humorist, as the recipients of his thousands of letters, e-mails and ham radio messages are well aware. He was, for awhile, a regular columnist for the Enterprise, wrote music, and published five books: "Wild New York: A Celebration of Our State's Natural Beauty"; "Guides of the Adirondacks: A History"; and "Ripples From the Paddle: Adirondack Stories" and "Cry Me Home Loon", both collections of short fiction.
Chuck is survived by his sister, Rosemary Birchard; sons Dean and Michael; daughters Amy, Sally, Ellee and Andrea; seven grandchildren; his Main Squeeze, Barbara Curtis; two cats and a parrot; golden retrievers Ben and Cora; and uncounted grieving friends who were drawn into adventure and joy by his scintillating example of a life well and fully lived.
A celebration of Chuck's life will be held for any and all who wish to remember him on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010.The service will be held at Historic Saranac Lake, located at 89 Church St. in Saranac Lake, and will begin at 2 p.m. with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made to any of the following organizations: Adirondack Amateur Radio Association, Tri-Lakes Humane Society, or your local chapter of the American Red Cross, in care of Fortune/Keough Funeral Home.
Family and friends may also share memories and sign the online guestbook at www.fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com.