LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- He spent nearly 35 years creating body art in Louisville, but friends say "Tattoo Charlie" Wheeler will be remembered for so much more than that. Wheeler, 56, passed away on Sept. 14th. As WAVE 3's Mark Schnyder reports, more than a thousand people honored his memory when Wheeler was laid to rest on Monday.
The tattoo needles were silenced at all three of Charlie Wheeler's Louisville shops Monday. Employees and hundreds of friends say he was good at his job, but even better at things he didn't get paid for.
"Just all the charities he did, all the things he did for the kids and for anybody who needed a helping hand," said friend Sandy Ernst.
Tattoo Charlie left his mark on the community -- literally and figuratively. As a teenager, he knew he was going to make body art his career. Sometime after that, philanthropy became his calling. He was a Shriner and his friends from Kosair in their sand buggies made up a good part of a very long and loud funeral procession.
"As good a friend as he was to me, I don't think there was a child in this community that could have had a better friend," said friend Butch Govoni.
Tattoo Charlie's son, Buddy, knew his dad touched a lot of lives but didn't anticipate a reaction like this. He says he's gotten calls and emails from all over the country and even some other countries.
"It's been an amazing, amazing couple of days," Buddy said. "It's a sad couple of days, but the outpouring of love and respect has been just overwhelming."
Buddy says his dad was planning to retire from the tattoo business next year, but he wasn't quitting his causes. Mourners say there will never be another Tattoo Charlie.
"I love him," said longtime friend Mike Rice. "I love him like a brother and I'm going to miss him."
Charlie was known for his work with kids who had cancer.
He also helped start Toys for Tots drives in Hardin and Bullitt counties.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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