Charles Retzer was born on January 25, 1972 at the Balboa Naval Base Hospital in San Diego, CA to Glenn and Shizue Retzer. He also had an older sister, Sally. Later in 1972, the family moved back to Grantsburg where Glenn (Claytie) grew up, and Claytie worked with his dad in the Coast-to-Coast Hardware Store. Claytie and Shizue divorced in 1973.
In 1975, Claytie married Karla Nyman McBroom and they became a blended family with each of their two children — Sally and Charles, and Rhonda and Janna McBroom. In 1979, Charles (Chuck) got a fourth sister, Nicole.
In Charles’ early years, there were indications that Charles had some health issues, but nothing was confirmed until a visit with a cardiologist when he was four years old. Testing was done and it was diagnosed that he had Wolfe Parkinson White Syndrome, which is extra electrical pathways throughout the heart that sometimes caused his heart to beat at 250 beats per minute.
They also found that he had Hypertropiccardiomyopathy, which is a thickening of the heart muscle. In his case, it was his right ventricle. This caused the heart to work really hard at pumping the blood through the body. In 1988, it was decided that he should have open heart surgery to try and eliminate some of these pathways.
After surgery, it was found that they missed a pathway and he went back into surgery two days later. He did very well immediately after, but in the early morning hours, all systems began to shut down and he almost died.
He was in the hospital for a month. They were never really sure if they got every pathway. He was put on medication to keep his heart in rhythm, but there were times he had to go to the hospital and get ‘shocked’ back into rhythm. He could never do sports as a child and got out of breath quite easily.
Years passed until finally in 2004, it was found that he had two bad valves that needed to be repaired because of how hard they had to work. So his heart was opened up for the third time to repair these valves.
Throughout all these struggles in his life, he always maintained a job after graduation. He never sat down and had victim mentality and felt sorry for himself.
In 2011, he had a temporary job in the warehouse at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis. He really liked that job, but after six months, it terminated because the person he was temping for was supposed to come back. As it turned out, the returnee did not want the job, and Chuck’s boss asked him (Chuck) to apply for the job because he had been such a good worker.
He did apply and got the job. It was really a job from God as he was not a vet, but got the job because he was disabled.
Chuck liked going to work everyday and really liked the people he worked with. He again had his own apartment, was furnishing it and had a good start on savings. Life seemed to be going as well as he expected under the circumstances with his heart. This job was a blessing from the Lord for him with all the benefits it included for him. He was someone who desperately needed good insurance.
Then in the early part of 2012, Chuck began to have problems with maintaining too much fluid in his body that medication alone could not keep off. He would have to go to the hospital for a few days so that they could slowly drain off the fluid, and then send him home with the meds again.
After some time, it was decided that he be referred to a heart failure clinic instead of just a cardiologist. After testing, it was determined that he would be a candidate for a heart transplant. One test was a liver biopsy which did not go well. There was a bleed and he lost 23 liters of blood and fluid which put his kidneys in harm’s way. His already hard-working kidneys were damaged to the point that he would now be on a heart kidney transplant list. Because of this, he had to begin home dialysis which in a sense lessened some of the pressure on his heart.
Chuck now had to give up all his independence and had to go back home to Grantsburg to live with his parents. It was a very tough time. He had made so much progress and now had to put everything in storage. Life was just a day-to-day process of keeping stats for dialysis, setting up for the next evening dialysis, taking pills and forcing himself to eat food that didn’t even taste good.
He spent many lonely hours with most family members working their jobs and living their lives. His big outings were trips to the U of M to see his transplant doctor and DaVita for dialysis checks.
On September 25, his Dad went in to say “Good morning” around 8:10 and he did not respond. His heart just got very tired. He had fought the fight, run the race, and went home to be with Jesus.
Charles’ passion was fishing. He loved to fish, especially in Canada. He and his Dad enjoyed many fishing trips together over the years.
He also liked deer hunting and followed NFL football. He loved his nieces and nephews and they have many wonderful memories of times spent with him.
Chuck was a good son, brother, uncle and great uncle. Through all his soul and physical pain, he NEVER once complained. “We love you, Chuck, and rejoice in your life, knowing you are now free.”
He is survived by his parents, Glenn and Karla Retzer; his four sisters, Sally, Nicole, Rhonda and Janna; three brothers-in-law, Ray Faris, Jeff Miller and Randy Lindblad; eight nieces, Krystle, Mari Faris; Amy Miller (Matt) Chadwick, Macy, Abbey and Jordyn Miller; Payton and Jayden Lindblad; three nephews, Jonathan Faris, Levi and Zach Miller; great nephew, Justice Chadwick; and great niece, Mercy Chadwick; and his every day best friends, Mocha and Latte.
Chuck was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Clayton and June Retzer; his maternal grandparents in Japan; his biological mother, Shizue Wojciechowiz; his step grandparents, Marvin and Bernice Nyman; nephew, Elijah John Miller and baby Miller.