Charles ‘Charlie’ Lasky passed away on Saturday, November 11, 2017 surrounded by his family following a long illness. Born in 1933 in Fall River to the late Ainsley and Doris (Rubenstein) Lasky and raised there, he graduated from Durfee High School (1951) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (1955). After college and serving his country in the U.S. Army in Ft. Lee, VA, Charlie returned to Fall River and briefly worked at his cousin’s record store in New Bedford. Charlie fell head-over-heels in love with Miriam ‘Mimi’ (Dress) of Fall River after a friend suggested that he take her out for a date. They were married in 1960 and settled in Newport.
In 1958, he had the opportunity to lease the Record Hop Shop on Thames St. and purchased the inventory of a record business that was closing in Taunton, MA, beginning a long and successful career as the proprietor of the Music Box, which continues to be a family run business with his three sons overseeing day-to-day operations of the Music Box, Life is Good Newport and Helly Hansen. Charlie’s business acumen was proven as he continuously revamped the product lines to meet the demands of always changing times.
When the Navy relocated its fleet of vessels to Norfolk, VA, throwing Newport into a recession, Charlie considered following them there, but his love of Newport and commitment to the downtown merchants kept him here. He stuck it out during the lean years and through his tenacity, the Music Box became a thriving business again. The many long-term employees who worked over the years at the Music Box and its associated businesses are a testament to Charlie as an employer.
His passion for a thriving Newport business community was demonstrated by his leadership within the Downtown Merchants’ Association, during which he campaigned for accessibility to the Thames St. shops during times of road construction and parking woes. He was affectionately known as the “Mayor of Thames St.” Throughout his life, he was a generous man contributing to religious and civic organizations and led the Downtown businessmen to financially support the many civic organizations that enhanced the lives of all Newporter’s. He was a founding member and leader of the Live Wire Club, a division of the Chamber of Commerce which promoted the downtown merchants. Charlie also served on the Board of Directors of the Newport Youth Football League and coached Little League baseball during the ‘70’s.
Charlie served the Jewish community of Newport in many capacities. He was a member of the Touro Synagogue for more than 50 years, serving in most board positions and President from 1972-74. He served as Chairman of the United Hebrew School of Newport County, helping to insure a quality Jewish education for all the Jewish youth on Aquidneck Island. He served as Chairman of the Newport County Division of the Jewish Federation of R.I., spearheading fund-raising campaigns for the Jewish Community and Israel. For many years, Charlie chaired the “Man of the Year” award presented by the Judah Touro Lodge of B’nai B’rith to a local citizen for outstanding service to the people of Newport.
During his younger years, he was a member of three bowling leagues (Business Men’s, City, and Lions Club), an avid poker player and later took up a love of golf. He was a dedicated fan of all things Red Sox his entire life and followed the Celtics & Patriots faithfully. He was a dog lover and enjoyed many years with his family dogs.
Charlie’s greatest joys in life were his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and sports. He had the gift of gab and had many years of enjoyment during conversations with friends, customers and business associates.
He is survived by his three sons Marc, Jay (Heidi Werther), and Robert (Lisa), all of Aquidneck Island, one daughter, Marcia Haber (Larry) of Marietta, Ga., and nine grandchildren, Joshua and Zachary Lasky, Celia, Lydia, and Daniel Lasky, Martin and Maggie Lasky, Adam and Matthew Haber. He missed his wife, Mimi, every day since her passing in 2016. His sister, Adele Ornstein of Rochester, NY, as well as 3 nephews and 6 great-nephews survive him. Charlie was the devoted son-in-law of the late Celia Dress and nephew of the late Dorothy Ginsburg.
Funeral services will take place at the Hoffman Chapel, 11 Fowler Ave on Tuesday November 14, 2017 at 2pm. Burial will follow at Beth Olam Cemetery, 181 Wyatt Rd, Middletown. Memorial observance will be held at Charlie’s son Jay Lasky’s home in Portsmouth following interment until 5pm, and 7pm-9pm Tuesday.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Touro Synagogue or Alzheimer’s Association of Rhode Island.
Arrangements are by the Chevra Kadisha Association of Newport County.