Charles McKinney was an open book.
“He was unfettered truth. When it was joy, it was unfettered joy. When it was frustration, it was unfettered frustration. When it was a prayer request, it was an unfettered, unedited prayer request,” First Baptist Church Knoxville Pastor Tom Ogburn said.
Charles had special needs. After his mother passed away, he lived alone with very little money but he always had his church family.
“He used to say his mother actually selected First Baptist Church for him to go to because she thought people were wonderful and embracing of Charles, and that was very important to her,” church member Kennie Riffey said.
There were others who also helped Charles beyond the pews of the church, including the service department at Ted Russell Ford.
“One of his favorite things to do was come down on Saturdays, especially during football season, and he would sit in this service lounge and watch the football game,” Ted Frynkewicz said.
Instead of driving him away, they buckled in for a friendship that would last almost 15 years. Little did they know, last season would be their final season with the 74-year-old.
“When I heard he passed away, something tells me I had to go because I didn't want him to go alone,” Frynkewicz said.
Charles' passing created emotions even windshield wipers couldn't get rid of.
“I was overwhelmed I could not believe how many people were at Charles' service," Frynkewicz said.
Now almost a year later, this story takes an incredible turn.
Charles, who faithfully dropped coins in the offering plate every single Sunday, had a little more in his estate than anyone knew.
He left everything he had to the church so they could take care of people who loved him well for so many years.
“We went over to Ted Russell Ford and the service department and presented them a check as a gesture of appreciation for the way they loved Charles,” Pastor Ogburn said.
The church then set aside $1,000 for the Sunday school class Charles was a member of for so many years.
His car went to someone who desperately needed it, free of charge, and his house was sold to a young couple looking to buy their first home for a price that worked for them.
Charles' chapter of life on earth has come to an end, but the legacy he left behind will last for generations to come.
“I will miss him,” Frynkewicz said. “I truly truly miss them the gentlemen.”
Sunday school class member Kennie Riffey has no doubt where her dear friend is now.
“I'm sure God is enjoying Charles as much as we did when he was down here with us," she said.