Charlie Mae Comage was born in Brownsville, Tenn., the third child in a family of eight girls and eight boys. The family later moved to Kingsport, Tenn. Her father was a sharecropper. Charlie Mae says she remembers all of them working together to complete the chores.
Charlie Mae moved to Chicago, Ill. when she was 16 to live with one of her older sisters. Charlie Mae says she has worked every job you could imagine.
The first job was in a dry cleaners and then as a janitor in a church. Once in Chicago, she began employment in a factory producing electronic products for General Electric, Ford, and Chrysler. She retired from her factory position after 33 years of service. She was the recipient of employee of the month several times during the last years of her employment.
When the program was first initiated, she jokingly stated that someone who did not deserve the award would probably receive it. She had to eat her words when she was the first recipient of "Employee of the Month." Charlie Mae was a hard worker and is proud to say she never missed or was late to work.
She met her husband, Earnest Lee, in a restaurant while eating breakfast. She said it was love at first sight. They stood and had a conversation with each other and their relationship progressed from there.
Earnest Lee was a shipping manager for a warehouse in Chicago. Charlie Mae and Earnest enjoyed weekend fishing trips. They also did some traveling to visit her children. She loved cooking and sharing recipes with friends and family and always followed up to make sure there was a good end result with the recipes she shared. Charlie Mae would roll out the red carpet when family visited to make sure everyone had everything they needed.
Charlie Mae has four children, Alvin Duane, David Lee, Charlotte and Joanne, who lives in Junction City, Kan. She has eight grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. When Charlie Mae became ill, she moved to Via Christi Village in Manhattan so her daughter Joanne could help manage her care.
Charlie Mae loves to be involved in all of the activities at the Village and also enjoys helping others. Activities staff helped her identify a way to help others and share her art at the same time. Charlie Mae made bookmarks for the children at the elementary schools in Manhattan. Her favorite colors, red, purple, and lime green are demonstrated in her art. She received thank you letters from the first grade students from the Flint Hills Christian School, thanking her for the beautiful, amazing, inspirational bookmarks. Then the first, second, and third grades from the Flint Hills Christian School came to the Village to sing and share hand-made Easter baskets with the residents.
Charlie Mae was present to meet the children she had reached out into the community to help. She even received a few hugs for her care and help.