by John Mistler
Charles “Charlie” Leon McNiff was born on June 27, 1934 in Utica, Nebraska and passed away in Marysville on January 6, 2020.
Charlie is survived by Pat McNiff, mother of their five children: Katherine Everett from San Jose, Christine McNiff, (Steve Sheeran) Longmont, Co, Annette Martinez (Ernie) Santa Maria, Ca., Kevin McNiff Green Bay WI., Tim McNiff, Santa Maria and close friend Sharon Moffett, as well as twelve grandchildren, twenty-one great grandchildren and one great, great, grandchild.
An athlete, Charlie lettered in three sports (football, baseball, and track) at Gridley High School from 1948 to 1950. He then transferred to Marysville High and lettered in those sports there too.
From 1951-1956, he served in the Navy on a destroyer, the USS Renshaw, during Operation Castle. Operation Castle Bravo remains to this day, the largest detonation ever carried out anywhere by the United States, and the fifth largest H-bomb detonation in the world. The ship Charlie was on was 20 miles away when the bomb detonated. Charlie played on his squadron’s all-star softball team as a catcher.
After the Navy, Charlie went to Yuba College and later earned a full ride scholarship to Fresno State University which was the top baseball school in the country.
In 1958, he set a Yuba College record in the 220-yard dash (:21.5) which stood until 1982, and in the 440-yard dash (:47.7) which still stands 43 years later. In 1959, he broke the San Jose State 440 record (:47.2) at the Modesto Relays, this was the tenth fastest in the world that year.
In 2001 Charlie was inducted into the Yuba College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Charlie worked for the Appeal Democrat Newspaper as a sportswriter and also sold advertising. In 1984 Charlie founded the Territorial Dispatch Newspaper in Meadow Vista, California. He moved the paper to Auburn Ca. and eventually to Marysville, Ca. He sold the paper in 2001 but continued to write articles in his "Think About It" column until January 1,2020. Charlie had a sense of humor and enjoyed wearing his trench coat and hat as an investigative reporter.
In the early 70s Charlie was an announcer for the stock car races in Marysville at the Triple M Raceway which was owned by his sister Delores Francis and her husband Cy Francis. He created the Sierra Mesa National Raceway, the first paved oval race track on the west coast off Highway 20 in Browns Valley.
In a recent interview by his granddaughter, Sarah Snyder, Charlie said, "If you believe in something hard enough, and passionately enough, it can happen."
He wants to remind his high school graduating class that he is proud to have lived through over a third of our nation’s history.
There will be a "Celebration of Life" to be announced at a later date.