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Freeport-area chapel honors longtime community member

Mike Reilly, of the Vandergrift Veterans Honor Guard, left, presents Alma Early, the widow of Charles Early, with an American flag Sunday morning, May 26, at a service honoring the late Army veteran. Eddie Trizzino/Butler Eagle

WINFIELD TWP — Charles Early had many titles in his 102 years of life, from Buffalo Township Auditor to Freeport School District school board member to “dad,” but his time serving in the U.S. Army during World War II was the first of his adult accomplishments.

Early died on Feb. 23 at the age of 102, but Sunday, May 26, was one of the biggest ceremonies his surviving family had seen recognizing him and his service in the military.

Each year, the Sowers Chapel honors a deceased veteran of the local community to observe Memorial Day, according to Trish Lindsay, who coordinates the service for the chapel. She said this was the 12th year the chapel has had a Memorial Day service.

At the service Sunday morning, Early received a three-volley salute, a bugle player played “Taps,” and the attendees heard stories about him from the Rev. George McCurdy, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served as guest minister. State Rep. Marci Mustello, R-11th, also read a proclamation that honored Early, and presented it to the members of his family in attendance.

Roger Early, one of his sons, said at the service that his father was well-known in the Freeport area, and many appreciated his service to it throughout his lifetime.

Roger Early, one of Charles Early's sons, stands during the playing of "Taps" at a service for his late father Sunday morning, May 26, at the Sowers Chapel. Eddie Trizzino/Butler Eagle

“My father was part of the community for 70 years,” Roger Early said. “In this community, everyone knows everyone.”

According to his bio, Charles Early was drafted into the Army in 1942, where he earned a Bronze Star, a Certificate of Merit and the Croix de Guerre from the French. He returned to Brackenridge after being discharged from the military in 1945, and served as an elder for the Slate Lick Presbyterian Church while he worked at Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation for 42 years.

He was also a member of the Freeport Kiwanis Club, the Pollock Masonic Lodge 502, the Syria Shrine, the Scottish Rite, the VFW, the American Legion and — as an avid pilot — the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Al Lindsay, a speaker at the service, shared stories about Charles Early, including the time he sneaked into a village in Germany during the war, and his bid to receive furlough from his service to marry his first wife, Marcella Early.

Alma Early, Charles’ widow, teared up while receiving an American flag flown above Washington, D.C. from a member of the Vandergrift Veterans Honor Guard. Following the service, she said it would probably have pleased her husband.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s awesome that they did this and so many people came.”

The Rev. George McCurdy, an Air Force veteran, led a service honoring Charles Early Sunday, May 26, at the Sowers Chapel. Eddie Trizzino/Butler Eagle

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