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Charles Alfred Normand

June 14, 1951 ~ June 10, 2018 (age 66)

Charles A. Normand, of West Roxbury, formerly of Roslindale and Boston, passed away June 10, 2018.  He was 66 years old.

Born in Boston, Charles was raised in Norwell, and attended high school at the High Mowing School in Wilton, NH. 

Charles was a pipe collector and worked for over 30 years as a retail tobacconist at the L.J. Peretti on Charles St. in Boston.  He loved to read and had a passion for military history, which led to his expert knowledge of World War II.

Charles loved to travel and in 1997, while traveling in Italy, married the love of his life, Christine, after 13 years of dating.  He was very fond of saying that was the greatest thing he ever did.

Charles was the dear and devoted husband of Christine Wirth. Loving son of the late John and Donna (Ensign).  Dear son-in-law of Mary Ann Wirth of Southwick and the late Charles Joseph Wirth. Dear brother-in-law of Richard O. Wirth of Dorchester, Nancy L. Roehl of CT and the late John C.J. Wirth.  He is also survived by several loving nieces, nephews and friends.

A Memorial Service for Charles will be held on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 2 p.m. at the Kfoury Keefe Funeral Home, 8 Spring St. (at the corner of Centre St.) WEST ROXBURY.  Visitation at the Funeral Home beginning at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend.  In lieu of flowers, contributions in Charles' memory may be made to the High Mowing School or to the charity of your choice.

Charles was a dear, good, man, who loved his life, his family and his friends and he is now at peace.

The following will appear in the Boston Globe on June 14, 2018. Written by Fluto Shinzawa, a dear friend of Charles and Christine

At first, they came for the selection, which, at L.J. Peretti Co., has always been without equal. The stock of the smoke-stained shop across the street from Boston Common has ranged from robust cigars, gentle pipe tobacco hand-blended on site, to straightforward cigarettes.

For the customers who cracked through Charlie Normand's crust, it did not take long for their shopping trips to become social visits. 

Normand, who died on June 10 because of a heart attack, could run short on patience. Gruffness came naturally to the 66-year-old. In retail, it is not always a desirable commodity.

But Normand worked at the tobacco store for more than 30 years not just because of his industry expertise. The visitors who connected with Normand were no longer his customers. They became his friends. Naturally, Normand learned their orders. He became familiar with far more than that.

Topics of conversation at Peretti's were encyclopedic. Visitors, usually while puffing away, lingered to chat about politics, travel, international relations, and world history. It was no coincidence these were Normand's interests.

The graduate of High Mowing School in Wilton, N.H., was a bibliophile. Normand attacked his pursuits ferociously, wearing out university presses in the process. The floors of his homes bent under the literal and figurative weight of his books: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Rebecca West), Germany Tried Democracy (S. William Halperin), Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (Geoffrey Parker). 

Normand's collection regularly expanded to the point where Joe Nucci, his lifelong friend from Norwell, provided relief by hauling away boxes of books that had spilled from his shelves. For Nucci, who lived with Normand in the South End and Back Bay during the 1970s, the books were welcome gifts from The Charl, the nickname for his boyhood buddy.

Normand made deep and divergent connections at work. He was happiest at home in West Roxbury with wife Christine Wirth, an artist and National Park Service historian. Charlie regularly said that marrying Chris was the greatest thing he ever did.

They liked visiting Nucci and wife Marilyn at their Jamaica Plain home, usually over Indian takeout. They enjoyed each other's company and that of their cats in quiet and simplicity: Chris planting in her garden or working in oils, watercolors, and prints at her Hyde Park studio, Charlie surrounded by his books and pipes. 

Of the latter, Normand owned, in the opinions of industry experts, one of the finest private collections of Castello, an Italian brand of handmade pieces. Normand made regular personal and professional visits to the company's headquarters in Cantu, Italy. One of Normand's prized items was a framed picture of himself with Carlo Scotti, the company's late founder.

Italy was special for Normand and Wirth, who were married in Alessandria in 1997. They had become familiar with the small northern town through Maria Robba, Wirth's longtime friend. Robba had married Bruno Severino, an Italian, and moved to Alessandria. At Normand and Wirth's wedding ceremony, which was conducted in Italian, Robba's father translated for the American couple.

Normand and Wirth took late-summer vacations to Maine. Preferred destinations included Stonington, Peaks Island, and Bailey Island. They especially enjoyed their trips to Italy, where they enjoyed food, sights, and the company of friends Maria and Bruno. 

Normand, who attended culinary school, made a very good pasta all'Amatriciana. But he would always shake his head when recalling the dishes he ate in Italy. His best bet was to chase such pleasure in the next meal, just like he would with the next book, next encounter, and next conversation. 

Charles Alfred Normand was born to John and Donna Normand on June 14, 1951. He was the son-in-law of Mary Ann Wirth of Southwick and the late Charles Joseph Wirth. He was the brother-in-law of Richard O. Wirth of Dorchester, Nancy L. Roehl, and the late John C.J. Wirth. He was survived by several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 16, at 2 p.m. at Kfoury Keefe Funeral Home, 8 Spring St., West Roxbury. Visitation begins at 11 a.m.

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