By GLENN KAHL
209 staff reporter
Chuck Roots was resolute when he went on to college to become a counselor after high school and entering the work world. During his military career he earned his doctorate degree in counseling.
Resolving to go back to college, he made a difference for countless men and women in the U.S. Navy and in his church family when he later accepted the pastor’s role of the Ripon Free Methodist Church in Ripon. His character and ethics have been appreciated by those he has served during his career.
Joining the U.S. Marine Corps in the early ‘70s, reaching the rank of sergeant, he prayed about the notion of getting more education and while stationed in Alameda with a Marine air squadron – working nights in a jet air wing – he opted to sign up for day classes at the age of 24 at Alameda Junior College. His received his AA degree and went on to Stanislaus State where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Radio and TV Broadcasting – well on his way to satisfying his resolution.
It was his second chance to excel after four years in high school and he took it on with a great passion after deciding he was going to make the world a better place. Admittedly, he was not there to party but to make good grades in the process.
“It was a succession of classes over seven years,” he said, “making up for bad college work I had done previously.”
There were three more years of education in his future at the Western Evangelical Center in Portland, Oregon, where he would receive his masters in Divinity degree.
He and his wife Isaura had met in a Bible study class on the San Jose campus and married two weeks after he graduated from San Jose State University in the spring of 1975. She was a Home Economics major at the college.
“Graduate school was expensive and the first year I was driving a school bus for extra money,” he chuckled.
One seminarian in charge of the bus barn said, ‘You are a Marine! – I know what I am going to do with you. You’re my new trouble shooter for my problem drivers.’”
Roots said he let the drivers know he meant business about driving their buses – and it all worked out. But after strict enforcement of the worst driver in the bus motor pool, the bus supervisor later decided let him have his bus back, he mused.
Tired of the bus assignment, he and a friend started a business office cleaning operation where they netted $3,000 a month each after their workers had all been paid. They called the janitorial service “King’s Custodians.”
He remembers telling his potential clients, “When I work for you I have to give you the best in the service and analysis. I have to answer to Jesus – the reference to the King in our business name.”
With that presentation, he got the job with the business owner immediately responding, “When can you start?”
He graduated from the seminary in 1979 and had 15 people working for him and his partner in the cleaning service, paying above the average wage and presenting bonuses for exceptional work results. Roots sold his portion of the janitorial business to his partner when he was hired as the youth director for the Christian Missionary Alliance Church at a reduced income of $1,200 a month – serving there for two years.
It was in that time period that he was contacted by a Navy chaplain who recognized his potential even as a Marine Sergeant in the reserves asking, “Ever thought about being a Navy Chaplain?”
It all developed from there and he entered the U.S. Navy’s Chaplaincy Program – serving for 25 years. At age 54 he went back to war with the Navy in Iraq for a year. He was in Vietnam earlier with the Marines.
It was while he was in the Navy that he was selected to go to the Post Graduate School and that is where he earned his doctorate in Pastoral Counseling. He took the required two years of classes in just one year.
“One thing I learned with the sailors and Marines – they were looking for somebody they could trust,” he noted. His lone prayer at the time was, “Lord, teach me how to listen.”
Roots said his wife wanted them to grow old together but he continues to have too much heart and spirit not to be involved in the community and the military. She, too, looks exceptionally young in their retirement.
Roots retired out of the Navy in 2008 and retired from the ministry in 2014 more than fulfilling that just out of high school – and a brief stint in junior college – with that resolution to himself – still a passion -- to reach out for success in helping others through his education.
“I saw tons of people who realized if they wanted to make anything of themselves, they had to go back to college,” he chimed. “It is important to learn to function within the business community as well and knowing how to look for jobs knowing how to present yourself in an interview.”
Last November Rev. Roots was asked to perform a wedding on the Mapes Ranch in Modesto for a U.S. Navy F-18 fighter pilot who flew his plane into the ranch landing on a grassy runway.
In addition to everything else, Roots has been writing a weekly newspaper column over the last several years that has been popular reading for the Ripon population with many saying it has been a breath of fresh air in his analysis of the contemporary happenings.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.