Chuck Vestal to retire at the end of June

Chuck Vestal will retire on June 30.

Chuck Vestal to retire at the end of June
May 27
10:33 2021

Long-time City employee made lasting impact on Senior Games

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

The names “Chuck Vestal” and “Senior Games” are almost synonymous.  For folks who’ve participated in Piedmont Plus Senior Games/SilverArts, Chuck has been their mentor, coach, umpire, and inspiration for the past ten years. From overseeing croquet and shuffleboard competitions, to swimming, golf, tennis, cornhole, ping pong and more, Chuck has been the guy who organizes the games and keeps them going, and has built up the local games to one of the best in the state. 

Chuck will retire on June 30 with over 30 years with the City of Winston-Salem. He began his career with the City working security at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Coliseum, where he worked his way up to events director in 1994. Chuck has seen every imaginable celebrity, rock and country concert, sports team, and more during his time managing groups that came to the Coliseum. Even though the 60+ hour weeks took a toll, he is quick to say, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” Even with the hassles working with demanding celebrities, Chuck said he “loved every minute.” 

In 2011 Chuck felt it was time to cut back on the hours he was working and began asking about positions open in the City’s Recreation and Parks department. He had worked with the teens at his church for 30 years and felt that would be the perfect fit for his skills and experience.

Instead, he was offered a position with Special Populations, the department that oversees, among other things, Senior Games and activities for older adults.

His first reaction was, “Why would anyone want to do that? Work with boring old people? I don’t think so.” But he was given a few weeks to think it over and he discussed it with his wife. Reluctantly, he took the position.

And that’s when he discovered that his perceptions about older persons were wrong … very, very wrong. When asked what surprised him most about working with seniors, he quickly responded, “Their competitive nature! I never expected that.”

Instead of finding little old ladies and gentlemen quietly playing shuffleboard, Chuck discovered the croquet group at Arbor Acres who play to win and indeed, have won many gold medals for their team. He discovered that older players trash talk their competition and when the game starts, all bets are off. He remembers one game where it had gotten so fierce that he had to expel one team for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

It was not at all what Chuck expected and that’s when he realized, “I knew I was in the right place.”

What has made his years as adult recreation program supervisor at Recreation and Parks the most special is the relationships he’s made, as well as the ones he’s seen develop among the participants in senior activities. “It’s all about relationships,” Chuck continued. “God has blessed me.”

The other part of his job he finds satisfying is the opportunity to serve, not just as a public servant, but as a servant leader to the older population, making sure they have access to activities at the recreation departments, that they can participate in Senior Games’ competitions, and that they have the support they need as they age. Chuck states that the many people he’s worked with over the years have been an inspiration to him. This will be what he will miss most when he retires.

Chuck is looking forward to “catching my breath” and not waking up in a sweat wondering “what have I forgotten to do? How will I ever run this tournament?” Chuck may be moving on to retirement and days of relaxing with nothing on his schedule – which he estimates to last about two weeks. Then he will be eager to get involved with something new to keep him busy. Chuck is excited to now qualify as a “senior” and he will not be a stranger at Senior Games. He’s looking forward to competing next year in a variety of games. And since he knows the competition intimately, he’ll be prepared.

The age-old question: Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? We’ll wait and see what Chuck has to say about that.

Best wishes on your retirement, Chuck Vestal. You have certainly earned it. You will be missed.

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