March 26, 2014

Remembering Chuck Inman, Jr., Whose Faith Created the Foundation of His Life of Service

InmanCharles (“Chuck”) Inman, Jr. chose to spend his life serving others, providing food for the hungry and help for the hopeless. It was his special gift to see a need, try to solve it, and make a difference.

A strong Christian faith, desire to help others, enthusiasm for everything he undertook, and his love of family created the foundation of his life of service to others.

His death in a car crash on March 20 is not only a tragedy for his family and friends, but a great loss to the organization and people he served.

As founder and director of the non-profit Battle Against Hunger Bike Tour, he sought to alleviate suffering and provide help to people in the area and beyond. During the past 11 years, the Battle Against Hunger has raised $650,000 for organizations providing relief. Rescue Mission of Trenton, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Crisis Ministry of Princeton, Jewish Family Services of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, Atlantic City Rescue Mission, Cast Your Cares Ministries, and Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair are among those that have received help.

252 Missions

A member of the Baby Boom generation, Mr. Inman was born in Virginia in 1946, and the idea of helping others was instilled early by his parents. Their family business regularly provided food and supplies to those in need.

He loved flying from the time he was a boy, and after two years at the University of Richmond, he left to join the army, intent upon flying helicopters. He was sent to Vietnam, where he flew 252 missions, and was shot down 13 times. He was instrumental in saving the life of his company commander, when that officer’s helicopter was shot down.

Warrant Officer Inman’s own luck ran out in 1968, when he was shot down during the Tet Offensive. Seriously wounded in the hand, arm, and face, he underwent 15 major surgeries as doctors sought to rebuild his hand. He spent two years in Walter Reed Army Hospital. Mr. Inman was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Purple Heart, among others.

Returning to Richmond, he went back to the university on the G.I. Bill, studying accounting, finance, and economics. After graduating first in his class, he attended the University of Texas, earning a Master’s Degree. He became a teaching instructor there, and later taught accounting at the University of Miami for five years.

Chuck had married his university classmate, Pamela Buss in 1970, and while they were in Texas, their son Charles P. Inman III was born. The Inmans later returned to Virginia to help in the family business, and also became actively involved with the Central Virginia Food Bank, which provided food, clothing, and other supplies to its 400-plus agency network in central Virginia.

The interaction with the clients was a meaningful experience, he later recalled. “The personal time spent with these wonderful people helped me to ‘get’ it. These were people who had had bad luck or circumstances intervene in their lives, and we were offering them assistance to get back on their feet and to start living productive and enriched lives.”

Born Leader

In addition, Mr. Inman worked with the STEP program of his church, gathering food, clothing, and other items to distribute in the projects in eastern Richmond.

He brought this same mindset to Princeton where he relocated in 1997. At that time, he also became involved in a small Bible study group with the late George Gallup. They became close friends, with Mr. Gallup later saying: “Chuck is a born leader — people are instantly drawn to him and his causes. If he had stayed in the armed forces, he would surely be a general by now. As it is, he is a 5-star general in his favorite cause, the Battle Against Hunger.”

The Battle Against Hunger grew out of Mr. Inman’s meetings with the Bible study group: “There were so many people in our own area who were struggling. I realized I personally wanted to do something about that.”

An enthusiast cyclist, he had the notion of combining biking with raising money for food for those in need. Together with his wife, colleagues and friends, he investigated various relief agencies, and the idea soon became a reality. Eventually, they decided on Gettysburg, Pa. — a 200-mile trip — as their cycling destination, with the round-trip returning to Trenton.

Mr. Inman received numerous awards and commendations for the time and effort he expended in the fight against hunger. While grateful for such recognition, he said, however, “What is most meaningful to me about the Battle Against Hunger is the ladies and gentlemen who are recipients, and the look in their eyes, the look of hope.”

It is the hope of all who knew him that Mr. Inman’s legacy will continue with the ongoing work of the Battle Against Hunger. In his own words, “We are all so blessed in this country, but there are many who are struggling. There is a lot of opportunity to give back to others. We in the Battle Against Hunger believe passionately that no one in a place as plentiful as New Jersey should ever have to suffer the ravages of hunger. We are committed to uniting businesses, organizations, groups, and individuals throughout the area for the express purpose of assisting those who provide food and shelter to those in need. Together, we can make a difference.”