Chuck Pelletier, long-time advocate for the unborn, dies at 72

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen


North Texas Catholic

January 15, 2016

Chuck Pelletier

FORT WORTH -- Clutching his ever-present rosary, Capt. Charles J. (Chuck) Pelletier II, a tireless advocate for the unborn and decorated Vietnam War hero, died Jan. 14 surrounded by loving family and friends. He was 72. 

A Mass of Christian Burial was held Friday, Jan. 22 in St. Patrick Cathedral — 1206 Throckmorton Street in downtown Fort Worth. A Rosary service was held Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. also at St. Patrick Cathedral.

A native of Michigan and graduate of Notre Dame University, Pelletier and his wife, Pat, opened Mother and Unborn Baby Care of North Texas in June 1984. Their dedication to the crisis pregnancy center, along with the work of volunteers and donors, is credited with saving more than 9,000 lives.

For more than three decades, Pelletier led the Good Friday Vigil for Life outside local abortion centers. He and his wife also organized a diocese-wide Mass for Babies Who Died Before Baptism every October.

Several days a week, the Pelletiers and other volunteers braved ice storms, heat waves, and rain to pray outside abortion centers and offer assistance and support to women arriving for abortions.

Last November the Pelletiers received the Service to Life Award from Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson for their love of faith and family and staunch defense of the unborn. In presenting the award at the 2015 Catholics Respect Life Gala, the bishop said the honorees epitomized the Gospel message of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

“At a time when so many of us were lost in complicated doctrines about ‘choice’ and ‘rights’ and other speculative endeavors, Chuck and Pat kept things in reality. They recognized women were in desperate need and the lives of their unborn children, were at stake,” he said. “It’s with that simplicity of the Gospel that Chuck and Pat went forward in founding their ministry.”

People have been born, baptized, and discovered their faith thanks to the Pelletiers.

“That’s because through Chuck and Pat and those who worked with them, they experienced the Gospel,” Bishop Olson continued. “Not the coldness of institutional charity but the warmth of the Gospel.”

Michael Demma, director of the Diocesan Respect Life Office, said Chuck Pelletier was someone people in the pro-life movement looked up to for years.

“Chuck was in the trenches before most of us knew there were trenches,” he said, referring to hard-fought legislative and personal battles to end abortion. “He was a great leader and great motivator. The love just flowed out of him for the babies and their moms.”

Chuck Pelletier receiving the Service to Life Award last November from Bishop Michael Olson. (Photo by Donna Ryckaert / NTC)

Demma called Pelletier’s dedication, courage, and vision to safeguard “the cause for life” unsurpassed.

“He’s a warrior and will continue battling from heaven, I know,” Demma added. “We’ll miss him.”

Angela Gill met Chuck Pelletier when she was 19 years old and began volunteering at the Mother and Unborn Baby Care Center. She remembers his professionalism and concern that any interaction with troubled, pregnant mothers was done correctly.

“He knew we were dealing with people’s lives and women’s souls,” the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishioner recalls. “He came from a military background, and we had to do everything by the book. There was no improvising. One wrong word could mean life or death.”

Gill, now the mother of six boys, says her mentor shared his devout faith and offered advice on how to be an effective counselor. He also helped her deal with infertility issues during the early years of her marriage by urging her to follow the Creighton Model for natural family planning.

“He would introduce me by saying, ‘this is Angela. I’m the one who helped get her pregnant,’ just to see me blush,” the young mother says. “He was there for me during my formative years. If I ever had a question or felt discouraged, I would call him.”

Before moving to Fort Worth in the early 1970s, Pelletier served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot serving two tours in Vietnam. He sustained a severe spinal cord injury when his Cobra helicopter was shot down on Nov. 1, 1970 during a rescue mission. The crash left him partially paralyzed, and he was forced to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His valor was recognized with a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Combat Infantry Badge.

Before becoming involved in pro-life advocacy, Pelletier worked as a political consultant and served in the campaign of former Texas State Representative Mike Millsap.

Pelletier and his wife, Mary Patricia (Pat), were married 46 years and are parishioners at St. Patrick Cathedral. They raised five children, Lisa, Jennifer, Charlie, Jimmy, and John and have 14 grandchildren.

Guided by faith, prayer, and tenacity, Chuck Pelletier's work in pro-life ministry blossomed

FORT WORTH -- Chuck Pelletier wasn’t in his usual spot at the Good Friday Rosary Vigil outside Fort Worth’s Planned Parenthood in 2013. Instead of leading more than 700 people in prayer, the longtime pro-life advocate was sick and unable to attend. It was the first time he missed the public witness against abortion in 28 years. Click for full story.

FORT WORTH -- Clutching his ever-present rosary, Capt. Charles J. (Chuck) Pelletier II, a tireless advocate for the unborn and decorated Vietnam War hero, died Jan. 14 surrounded by loving family and friends. He was 72. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Published (until 12/25/2037)