Charles Thomas Closson, Jr. (“Chuck”), age 70, following a long battle with sarcoma, passed away at home in Raleigh on Monday, March 5, 2013.
He was born in Laurel, MD, to Charles and Eva Closson. About one year after Chuck’s birth his father perished in an auto accident. Young Chuck and his mother were living in Santa Fe, NM, the family’s hometown at the time. About three years later, Eva married Carlos “Mac” Creamer who took Chuck under his guidance and raised him as his own son – the two enjoyed a very special father and son relationship. His parents both passed away in 2003. The new family of three moved to Massachusetts where Chuck’s brother was born. Soon after, the family moved to Caracas, Venezuela. Chuck spent his childhood in Caracas with summer vacations in New Mexico. He attended New Mexico Military Institute, graduating from its high school and then graduated from business school at the University of Colorado Boulder. He was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
A consummate entrepreneur Chuck bought his first business, Tulagi, while still attending CU. For several years he operated Tulagi, the nation’s largest beer joint, and was a founder of another restaurant as well as a travel agency both also located in Boulder. After selling these businesses he accepted a sales position with Xerox and his family moved to California. He was ultimately responsible for managing the accounting, banking and S&L markets for Xerox in San Francisco. The family returned to Boulder and Chuck immersed in several new endeavors including credit insurance, commercial real estate, and commercial mortgage banking. He then joined the Neodata Services Division of A.C. Nielsen Company as its Director of Research & Development, responsible for starting new services and heading its acquisition efforts. After seven years he resigned and, with a partner, started Boulder Ventures, a venture capital partnership. While forming their new partnership the two were invited to join the Centennial Funds, the largest venture capital operation in the Rockies. As a General Partner at Centennial he started his career as a venture capitalist. After leaving the Centennial Funds Chuck helped found the Strategic Financing Group within the Big Eight accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney.
In 1989, Chuck left Colorado when he was recruited to become the first President and CEO of The North Carolina Enterprise Corporation. He hired three others and as partners they spent fifteen years managing what became one of the State’s most successful venture capital operations returning to its investors over six times their original investment. Through the North Carolina Enterprise Fund they made a total of 27 investments in smaller emerging companies that showed promise for accelerated, sustainable business growth – these investments included Peopleclick, Inc.; Spectrasite Holdings Inc.; Southern Assisted Living; RF Micro Devices, Inc.; and Orologic, Inc. In 2005 the Fund started its orderly wind-down, which Chuck managed. Chuck was active in the North Carolina entrepreneurial community – he helped found and was the first President of the North Carolina Venture Capital Association. He was involved with The Council for Entrepreneurial Development and served a term on its board. He was constantly promoting the entrepreneurial process and enjoyed working with anyone who had the entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to have their own business.
Chuck appreciated the outdoors. He was a good snow skier. He started golfing as a youngster in Venezuela and played until just recently. A member of North Ridge Country Club he played in its SGA and especially liked golfing with his wife and other couples. Since his youth in New Mexico, Chuck always enjoyed fishing, especially fly fishing for trout in Colorado and striped bass in North Carolina. He fished saltwater in North Carolina and often in Florida. During the twenty six years he lived in Colorado he was an avid fowl hunter spending plenty of time in goose and duck blinds with his son and friends while also hunting pheasant and quail in Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa.
Chuck leaves his beloved wife of almost twenty years, Jennie, whom he met and married in North Carolina. The two enjoyed a very loving relationship and shared many great and grand adventures together. They always smiled and giggled when one “got lucky,” meaning they found what they were looking for especially while shopping. In addition, he is survived by his son and friend, Charles (“Charley”) Closson, III, of Longmont, CO and his very special daughter, Lisa Sweeney (Brandon), of Menlo Park, CA, as well as by his two step-daughters, Bobbi Bass, of Raleigh and Kim Fara (Marty), of Durham. He deeply loved and greatly enjoyed the time he spent with his grandchildren: Carter and Lauren Closson; Kathryn, Megan, and Bennett Sweeney; and Victoria Fara. He also leaves behind his mother-in-law, Virginia Proctor, many cousins, nieces and nephews, in-laws, and his half-brother Carlos “Butch” Creamer.
The family wishes to thank the relatives and many friends who supported Chuck during his fight with cancer. He was most grateful for their prayers, kindness, and care. They also thank the Duke Cancer Center Sarcoma Team, Dr. Wells Edmundson, and Hospice of Wake County.
Chuck was cremated and, following a private Funeral Liturgy, will be inniched in the Columbarium at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh. A memorial service will be held on Monday, March 11, 2013, 11:00 a.m. at Renaissance Funeral Home, 7615 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27615. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Hospice of Wake County.