By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Chuck Imbler Jr.’s influence in Tupelo continues to grow with each street constructed through the city’s Major Thoroughfare Program.
Friends say the local businessman applied the same patience to improve the area that he did to fight cancer for about a decade. Imbler died Tuesday at age 56.
His funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church. (See the full obituary elsewhere on this page.)
Friends describe Imbler as a fellow who didn’t sit on the sidelines, whether in the local Kiwanis Club, as a member of the Major Thoroughfare Program committee or supporting the area’s public schools.
“He was a visionary,” said Greg Pirkle, chairman of the Major Thoroughfare Program committee, who has known Imbler for decades. “Chuck could see what Tupelo could be and was determined to be part of helping it become that.”
Milam Elementary School Principal Travis Beard was an assistant football coach and teacher at Carver in 1971, when the ninth-grade team went undefeated. Imbler played center on the team.
“Chuck always had a goal in mind,” Beard said. “He was always determined to be the best in whatever he did.”
With a bachelors and master’s degree from the University of Mississippi, Imbler served as the national president of the Navistar Corporation before joining his dad, Chuck Imbler Sr., in owning the Truck Center in Tupelo.
Attorney Pat Caldwell, 56, attended junior high and high school with Imbler and was roommates with him during their freshmen year of college and later when they pursued advanced degrees.
He remembers his friend always using “we” when talking about the community. However, he also recalls Imbler’s sense of humor and dedication to Ole Miss athletics.
“We did a lot of bad basketball together,” Caldwell said.