Charles Rideout: 1967-2022

By Laura Mercogliano

Charles Rideout was born on Aug. 1, 1967, in Good Samaritan Hospital. He was raised by his parents, Arthur and Joy Rideout, across the bay in Islip. After graduating high school, he and a friend ventured to Fire Island where he ultimately found his forever home. With a profound love of nature Chuck was introduced to Davey Jones and began to cultivate his interest in landscaping. He enjoyed working in the rugged outdoors, often taking an interest in learning new trades and gaining an ever-expanding arsenal of resources in construction, dock building and boating. For many years he worked for Metcalf Carting in various capacities.

On a bright sunny day in August of 2016, I witnessed a man that I was only vaguely familiar with ask a bartender for scissors. Thinking it was an odd request, I watched as he proceeded to cut his only pair of jeans. He stepped out of his weather-beaten flip flops rose from the bar stool, shredded remains left behind.

I said, “Hey, where are you going?” “Heading to the bay,” he responded. “I feel like it’s time for a swim.” I was so taken by how “in the moment” he was. I later learned his name was Charles Rideout, aka, Chuck, an Ocean Beacher who had been couch surfing, trading beer for labor, living day by day.

In him I saw a unique quality. An innocence of sorts. No agenda, just kind and genuinely in tune with the sun, the moon and the sea. He fished for his dinner periodically. He was gentle and surprisingly joyful. What was previously perceived as careless, now seemed so carefree. How could anyone not obsess about their future, not to mention where they would live and where their next meal would come from?

I liked him; I was intrigued. Days later he was hired to provide customer service at The Palms Hotel. He accepted our rules: Clean shaven, sober, on time, in uniform, name badge, red lanyard, refrain from smoking within view of guests. It must have felt like the military, but within no time he thrived, wearing his crisp white colored Palms shirt with undeniable pride.

One day a Palms boat found its way into the middle of the bay late at night. Knowing that Chuck was as “seaworthy” as one could possibly be, particularly at tying knots, I could only attribute the mishap to carelessness. He swam out no less than 200 feet off shore in the middle of the night and retrieved the boat. When we learned of it the next day, Chuck knew how mad I was. He lowered his head apologetically, and simply said, “Yes ma’am” when asked if he knew how disappointing this was. Later I learned that young people had been playing on the boat and one of them was my daughter. Chuck accepted full responsibility and never said a word. A kind soul who had been wrongly accused and accepted his plight to protect others.

His handshake meant something; his bond was his word. Self-admittedly he had faltered in life and accepted the consequences accordingly. He never pretended to be perfect. He was humble, he was genuine and he was polite.

Chuck loved music: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and most of all the Grateful Dead, who he followed for many years. In the words of his younger sister Suzie, Chuck loved hard, worked hard and played hard.

On Dec. 19, 2022, Chuck passed and will be remembered forever as a kind man who was thoughtful and always first to offer to lend a hand. He lived life without an agenda, without judgment and with fierce loyalty to those who were fortunate enough to be in his inner circle. I was privy to the man that many never took the time to know or even acknowledge, how fortunate for me. I’ll forever be grateful to have learned some important lessons from you, my friend. God bless you.