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UNF Spinnaker


Caring. Beautiful. Giving. Fun. Unique. Happy. Supportive. Full of life.

These are just some of the words used by Charlee St. Clair Anderson’s family and friends to describe her. The criminal justice senior was an intern with Clay County’s Department of Children and Family Services and worked part time at the Orange Park Presbyterian Church’s Sunday school, which is planning a memorial for her called “Charlee’s Corner.” She was set to graduate from UNF Dec. 11. Instead, a car accident took her life on County Road 220 late Oct. 18, according to a police report.

“The fellow who was driving the car, she was pretty crazy about him,” Charlee’s mother Katy McIntyre said.

McIntyre referred to Anderson’s boyfriend, Rocky Gomez, 30, who suffered critical injuries from the accident but has since recovered and is in physical therapy. He doesn’t remember anything about the accident or the few weeks after it, he said.

But he will never forget Anderson.

“She helped me open up really, not to shut people out, well, not to shut her out,” he said. “She was always thinking about someone else. … She made me want to be better at everything.”

The couple had planned a Nov. 1 trip to Dallas to see a game in the newly constructed Cowboys Stadium, where Gomez planned to propose, he said.

Gomez’s voice cracked as he recalled it.

“I just wanted to let her know that I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life,” he said. “I wanted her to at least know.”

McIntyre held the cordless phone in one hand and a sheet of handwritten names and numbers in the other, ready to call Gomez almost a month after her daughter’s death. She looked up as if to speak, then down at the list and back up again.

“He has a really kind heart and made Charlee feel comfortable in her own skin,” McIntyre said. “She wasn’t trying to be anyone else like she did with [others] she dated. … He did a lot of really wonderful things for Charlee, and that’s where I choose to leave it with him.”

During this, Anderson’s stepfather Mike McIntyre trembled a teacup toward his lips, having spent the hour-long conversation recalling Anderson as a father would – forever his little girl – speaking up about her moments as a toddler: playing with her cash register toy, always carrying her blanky, which was actually a silk nightgown.

“Charlee came around [during] a really hard time in my house,” Katy said. “So she was like the little bright spot in everybody’s life.”

Anderson’s brightness and positivity rang true in all of her friends’ and family’s stories of her.

“She’s been my best friend for 10 years. … We grew up together so we got to experience … all the big challenges,” said Blythe Salle, her friend and UNF almuna.

Lorraine Twohie, also a friend of Anderson, has known her for about a decade, as well.

“She was always there for me, supportive no matter what … an angel taken too soon, that’s for sure,” Twohie said.

Twohie is reminded of her always, even as she listens to the radio, she said.

“A song would come on, and she would say, ‘This is my favorite song,’ and then the next song would come on and that’d be her favorite song too,” Twohie said.

This fun spirit, filled to the brim, almost overflowing with life and happiness, is what her loved ones remember most, they said.

“[Charlee] said I was special like Special K,” said Kristin Ratcliff, her friend and UNF transportation and logistics senior. “You see, we all had nicknames for each other. We called her Clammy or when we were mad at her, Charles. She was like a sister to me.”

Katy pointed into one of Anderson’s composition notebook scrapbooks. There was a picture of a large group of high school seniors, all girls with their arms around each other, surrounded by a full page of handwriting.

“I didn’t know she kept so many,” Katy said about the scrapbooks, which she had pulled down from a box in the closet. “I only don’t remember two girls in this [picture].”

For a few moments, there was only the sound of slowly flipped pages, one after the other full of writing, pictures and little souvenirs of the moment. Occasionally, something outrageously silly erupts the table, surrounding the scrapbook in laughter.

“Her laugh, she had this cackle, a loud laugh that was contagious,” Katy said. “She was happy all the time, from when she was little, ’til the end.”

Gomez was silent when faced with his closing statement, something to summarize and bring meaning Anderson’s memory. After a minute, his silence turned serious.

“She was, hands down, the greatest person I ever met,” he said. “I can honestly say that.”

Twohie spoke for all of them.

“We, not just me, now get to live through the happy memories,” Twohie said. “And there’s plenty of them.”

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    CassidyDec 5, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Charlee was my aunt. i miss her soooooo much. its soo different without her here.