Action News 5 Special Report: Goodbye Charlie - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Action News 5 Special Report: Goodbye Charlie

Charlie Dunn was a quiet man with a passion for a death defying sport.  When he wasn't at home with his wife Barbara, you could find Charlie at the Memphis Motorsports Park rooting for his favorite driver.

Charlie loved Barbara more than anything, but his love for racing came in a close second.  The couple met and married in 1968.

"We went to have pizza one day, and he goes, 'Don't make any plans in August because we're going to get married,'" Donna fondly recalled in a recent interview.
 
The Dunns moved to Mississippi four years ago to live out their golden years on a three acre lot in Coldwater, but their retirement dreams were short lived.    In January of 2007, Charlie Dunn died of heart failure, with the wife he cherished by his side.

"The only way you get through something like that is trust in the Lord, and the Lord prepared me for Charlie's passing," Barbara said.

Charlie was also prepared, and had expressed very specific plans for the afterlife - he wanted to be cremated, and he wanted his ashes scattered over a race track.

"I said, 'Okay, fine, I'll see what I can do,'" Donna said.

A year and a half after her husband's death, Barbara decided it was finally time to grant her husband's last wish.  But, she needed a little help.

"I called Memphis Motor Sports Park and I said, 'I've got a really bizarre question to ask you,' and they said, 'That's not bizarre.'"

It was, however, a first for Doug Franklin, the manager of the facility.

The request was a first for Motorsports manager Doug Franklin.

"It was intriguing enough I didn't want to say no," Franklin said. "We like to be able to say 'yes' to our race fans."

Because Tennessee prohibits the disposal of ashes on the grounds of private property, Franklin began looking for a loophole in the law. When he learned it was legal to drop ashes from the air, he contacted Action News Five.  It was quickly decided that Charlie's final trip to the race track would be on board Chopper 5.

"With Chopper 5's help, now we're able to help Mrs. Dunn and take care of Mr. Dunn's final wish," Franklin said.

Before boarding the helicopter, Barbara Dunn placed her husband's remains in a special container.  Then she took an emotional flight.

"As I was releasing him I could just feel him," she said. "It was just so exciting."

For Barbara Dunn, it was a priceless chance to give her husband of 38 years one last gift. 

"I know he's just excited about what I did," Barbara said. "I can feel him grinning from ear to ear going, 'Yeah!'"

And despite their final parting, this couple's love has no finish line.

"It's just ashes," Barbara said. "He's not there anymore.  His soul is somewhere else. He's with God and that's all that counts."


Click here to send an email to Anna Marie Hartman.

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