Pastor Charlie Piscitello, 69, of Batavia, died peacefully at the Gowanda Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on July 30, 2012. He was born December 4, 1942 in Buffalo to the late Anthony (Anna Gullo) Piscitello. Born with cataracts and glaucoma, and having several childhood accidents resulting in the removal of both eyes, Charlie (then known as Chuck) attended the New York State School for the Blind. It was there on a coal pile that he found a guitar. Grounded to his room for being off limits, he taught himself to play the guitar, and later formed a band with several classmates and an instructor at the school. Charlie’s first recordings of his music were made there on heavy vinyl disks. After leaving the school in 1961, Charlie formed his own band, playing various Western New York venues.
Charlie later moved to the Southern Tier and hired a manager, John Parialis, with Pyramid Sound, based in Ithaca, NY. He began touring more widely, eventually being in the “right place at the right time” to fill in for the Eagles, whose transportation failed to get them to their gig as the opening act for Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Charlie’s music and charm impressed members of the band, who offered him a contract to continue the tour. With the stage name “Charlie Starr,” Charlie cut several single 45 rpm recordings as well as two albums, entitled “Just Plain Charlie” and “Tough and Tender.” Charlie’s musical career spanned all fifty states, touring with individuals and groups which included the Moody Blues, James Taylor, Johnny Cash and the Carter family, Tina Turner, and the Carpenters, in addition to a tour of Europe with Yes. James Taylor graciously offered Charlie his song, “One Man Dog” in reference to Charlie’s guide dog, Princess, pictured on Charlie’s “Just Plain Charlie” album cover.
Charlie rarely talked of his musical career in the later decades of his life, as his first love was Jesus. Abandoning fame and fortune to tune pianos and serve the Lord, Charlie left his musical career and dedicated his music and his life to the Lord. In 1991, while living on a dairy farm in Greene, NY, Charlie met his wife, Judi, and not long after their marriage in 1992, Charlie began a small Bible study group in their home here in Batavia.
While completing his associate degree in counseling at Genesee Community College (GCC), Charlie worked at the Genesee Region Independent Living Center, and upon completion of his bachelor’s degree from Empire State College in 1994, he was hired by GCC to work for the Center of Academic Progress. In 1997, he was ordained as a pastor by the Worldwide Church of God. Pastor Charlie founded the Batavia Christian Fellowship, which later became one with Faith Community Chapel.
In 2002, he was among the first to be awarded the New York State Senate Achievers’ Award by Senator Mary Lou Rath. When his health began to fail, he pastored A Little House Church. During the early years of his ministry, Pastor Charlie was a member of the Batavia Lions Club, volunteer for the Regional Action Phone, and the Salvation Army Disaster Team. More recently, Pastor Charlie was involved in the Monday morning prayer ministry of Care-A-Van Ministries, and occasionally joined the Care-A-Van Band, sharing the wonderful gospel of Jesus at every opportunity. He is preceded in death by a brother Dominic and sister Louise.
He is survived by his beloved wife Judi (Ingram) Piscitello; sons Dominic (Tracy), Joe (Julie), Michael (Terra) and Angelo; six grandchildren JoAnna, Emily, Dominic, Paige, Joey and Kathryn Rose (Kate) Piscitello; siblings Anthony (Sandy), John (Diane), Randy (Henny), Robin (Gotowka) Piscitello, sister-in-law Patricia along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Friends may call from 11 AM to 2 PM on Saturday August 4, 2012 at Discovery Chapel 315 West Main Street Batavia, New York 14020. A 2:00 PM Funeral Services will take place on Saturday August 4, 2012 at the Church. Interment will take place at Grand View Cemetery in Batavia.
In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to the Care-A-Van Ministries 4 Lewis Ave. Batavia, New York 14020. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.gilmartinfuneralhome.com or call (585) 343-8260. Arrangements completed by Gilmartin Funeral Home & Cremation Company, Inc. 329-333 West Main Street Batavia, New York 14020.