Charles Vavra

Charlie A. Vavra, 88, of Harpers Ferry died Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Thornton Manor in Lansing. Memorial services and military honors will be held Saturday, May 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Harpers Ferry Legion with a lunch to follow. Friends may greet the family from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 18 at the Harpers Ferry Legion. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Harpers Ferry American Legion Post 722. Martin Funeral Home in Waukon is handling arrangements.

Charles A. Vavra was born July 5, 1930 in Cedar Rapids, the son of Charles F. and Helen (Hellwig) Vavra. He graduated from Franklin High School in Cedar Rapids and was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving from 1951-1953 while stationed in South Carolina. As a teen, Charlie became a certified lifeguard and later used those skills in the Army at Myrtle Beach, accumulating 13 saves. In 1960, he married Barbara Owen in Cedar Rapids; they later divorced.

For 38 years, Charlie worked for Cryovac/WR Grace in Cedar Rapids starting as a press helper and working his way up to production manager; he retired in 1991. While in the Army, he met some guys who spent time fishing in Harpers Ferry, and Charlie decided to join them. Since then, he continued to visit Harpers Ferry every year, bringing his family along as well. In 1996, he moved there permanently.

In Harpers Ferry, Charlie was a past city council member, a founding member of the Harpers River Friends, and an American Legion member. While living in Cedar Rapids, Charlie was active in Ducks Unlimited and a founding charter member of the Otter Creek Gun Club; he also raised golden retrievers at Willow Springs Kennel in Bertram. He loved having a dog with him and that was something he missed most after moving to Thornton Manor.

He was very much an outdoorsman and loved hunting, fishing, camping and being on the river; the love of the outdoors was something he instilled in his kids. He was a great marksman and enjoyed shooting trap and skeet. Charlie was a fixer and a builder, always having a project in the works. These projects ranged from tinkering and working on his boat and trailer to creating something fun like a hog roaster.

He is survived by his two children, Robert (Deb) Vavra of Harpers Ferry and Debbie (special friend Chris Bennett) Vavra Healy of Swisher; his grandsons, Cody (Amber) Stange and Daniel (fiancée Melissa Sobolik) Healy; his great-granddaughters, Melody and Tatum Stange; and his sister, Sally Woods, of Bullhead City, AZ. Charlie was preceded in death by his parents and two infant daughters.

Charlie’s family would like to thank Thornton Manor in Lansing for their tremendous care.

Online condolences may be left at

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