Charles H. Chew III, 91, ran a landmark funeral home

Posted: July 22, 2014

A KID in South Philadelphia who wanted to put another kid in his place might say, "Mess with me and you're gonna end up at Chew's."

The Chew Funeral Home was a neighborhood landmark, and even though it didn't take on errant juveniles, it had a clientele that reached into all levels of society.

It was run by one of Philly's last pure gentlemen, a man who tipped his trademark fedora to the ladies, sprang to open the doors for them and always had a gracious way of easing the distress of the bereaved.

That was Charles Henry Chew III, who ran the funeral home at 2123 Christian St. since the death in 1970 of his father, Charles H. Chew Jr., who founded it in 1927.

Charles III, a man who often worked long hours and at least six days a week, who liked to relax with a deep-sea fishing trip, opera music or a flight-simulation video game, died July 12. He was 91.

He was an Army veteran of World War II, stationed in France with the Quartermaster Corps. He attained the rank of master sergeant.

"He didn't see any combat, but he said he could hear guns in the distance," said his son, Charles H. Chew IV.

"He was fun-loving, but he could be very serious," his son said. "He didn't like irresponsibility. He was a stickler about that."

When Charles H. Chew Jr. died, his son was determined to keep the business going with the same high standards his father had set, Charles Chew IV said.

"Charles was always an honest and very committed and conscientious businessman, as well as a loving father and husband," his family wrote.

He was born in Philadelphia. His mother was Virginia Ramsey Chew. He graduated from Temple University High School, and went on to Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va., where he met his wife, Margaret Scott. They were married in 1943.

After his military service, Charles went to work in his father's funeral home. He became a licensed funeral director after graduating from the Echols College of Mortuary Science.

He was followed into the business by his younger brothers, Edward and Ramsey. The name of the funeral home became Charles H. Chew Jr. and Sons. The business closed in 2006.

After the death of his two brothers, Charles continued to run the funeral home until he retired at the age of 84.

Charles took breaks from his busy schedule to vacation at Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts, or for deep-sea fishing out of Cape May or the Caribbean.

Charles was a big fan of grand opera. He could listen to Puccini's "La Boheme" and "Madame Butterfly" over and over.

In recent years, Charles became fascinated by video games, especially flight-simulation games. As the games became more complex, he had to buy more powerful computers to accommodate them.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Patrice Joanne Eve, and 10 grandchildren. Besides his two brothers, he was predeceased by another son, Dr. Michael S. Chew.

Services: Graveside service noon tomorrow at Ivy Hill Cemetery, 1201 Easton Road.

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