Charlie was born to Charles and Elizabeth Luce in Peoria, Ill., in 1929. At age 15 his family moved first to Indianapolis, where Charlie attended Shortridge High School, and later that same year to Rye, N.Y. He played basketball at both schools. He went on to attend Boston University, where he played on the basketball team and majored in physical education. In 1950, between his junior and senior years at B.U., Charlie married his high school sweetheart, Gay Devine Luce. The two were together until Gay’s death in 2003, raising four sons-one man short of a basketball squad.
After college Charlie taught and coached briefly at Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose, N.Y., and then for four years at Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. While at Dobbs Ferry his basketball teams accumulated a record of 57-3 and won two Class C championships. From there he accepted a job teaching physical education and coaching basketball at Greenwich (Conn.) High School (1958-67). His Greenwich teams won several Fairfield County championships and made the state tournament all eight years. He landed back at Boston University in 1967 as head basketball coach, a position he held for five years before transitioning to assistant director of athletics there.
He was a member of the rat pack of coaches in the late-’60s and ’70s, attending clinics and trading scouting tips with the likes of Bob Cousy, Dee Rowe, Lou Carnesecca, Otto Graham, and Bob Knight. Dean Smith, Guy Lewis, and Jack Curran wrote references for his job application to Boston University.
In 1974 Charlie became director of physical education and athletics, and coach of men’s basketball at Connecticut College in New London. He removed himself from coaching after the 1978-79 season to focus on developing Connecticut’s athletic teams and facilities. He was instrumental in the planning and completion of the Dayton Arena, Dawley Field, the Lyn and David Silfen Track and Field, and the college fieldhouse, which was named for him upon his retirement in 1992. One of his proudest accomplishments came in 1982, when, after a year of negotiations, Connecticut College was accepted into the New England Small-College Athletics Conference.
In 2005 Charlie and Margery “Bunny” Sigler were married. The couple settled in Doylestown, Pa., to be closer to family, and quickly became involved in the community, volunteering at the nearby hospital and taking classes at Delaware Valley University. A huge basketball fan herself, Bunny was Charlie’s loving wife, companion, and caregiver in the last years of his life.
Charlie had an infectious personality and seemed to have time for anyone from all walks of life. He was famous for having a nickname for everyone. To provide for his family he worked two and sometimes three jobs nearly half his life but never complained. He drove a succession of barely functional used cars, the most notorious of which was a 1951 bullet-nose Studebaker with rotted-out floorboards that his students called “The Missile.” He was brilliant at bringing people together for a cause but completely inept at anything involving home-improvement projects.
Charlie’s many accomplishments and awards include membership in the Greenwich High School and Connecticut College Athletic Halls of Fame. In 2000 he received the Connecticut College Medal, the highest honor the college confers. He was the 1996 winner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Distinguished Achievement Award. His lifetime coaching record was an impressive 250-139, but his record of touching and mentoring countless lives eclipses any tally of wins and losses.
Charlie is survived by Bunny; his sister, Claire, of Washington, D.C.; his four sons: Chuck and wife Beth of Port Orchard, Wash.; Mike and wife Lesley of Wrentham, Mass.; Tim and wife Rita of Conway, Mass.; and Bill and wife Mary of Doylestown; stepson Bill Sigler and wife Lauren of Aldie, Va.; stepdaughter Heather Minor of Chicago; former daughter-in-law Kerrie Godding and husband Jerry of Tarpon Springs, Fla.; 12 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a generation of ballplayers of whom he was so immensely proud.
A celebration of life will take place June 5, at Connecticut College. The family asks that gifts in his memory be made to the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society (givenow.lls.org) or to Connecticut College (conncoll.edu), directed to student financial aid.