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Beyond The Bio - NOTC Hall of Fame 
 

The "Beyond the Bio" series dives deeper into the history, background, and life of our New Orleans Track Club Hall of Fame inductees. Check back for regular updates to read more about your favorite long-time NOTC members and volunteers.

Don and Charlene Brinkman - A Love Story

 

Picture a front porch in New Orleans, spring and summer 1964.  Music playing on a record player, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison.  Neighborhood kids, hanging out and having fun.  Getting to know each other, transitioning from grammar school to high school.  This is where Don Brinkman and Charlene Silcio met when Don was a freshman at Holy Cross, and Charlene an 8th grader at St. Vincent dePaul..

No one in the crowd were boyfriend and girlfriend at that point, just friends.  Back to school time, and Don goes back to Holy Cross, and Charlene starts school at Annunciation.  In 1965,  the Silcio family moves to Metairie, and Charlene’s mother wants Charlene to go to Chapelle.  Charlene’s asks to stay with her friends at Annunciation, and her wish is granted.  Don and the friends from the neighborhood borrow cars to drive to the suburbs and see Charlene.

Charlene’s grandmother back in New Orleans needed company, so Charlene started spending the week days in New Orleans at her grandmother’s house.  That gave Don the chance he needed.

But Charlene wasn’t convinced. She even set Don up for dates with other girls.  Junior Prom, Charlene’s mother told Charlene she should invite Don to the prom, and Charlene listened to her mother. 

Don persisted. Their first date was a quadruple date to a drive-in movie.  More dates followed.  Charlene’s dad would lend Don his car for them to date, and started calling Don “son-in-law”.  Money was tight, and a nice date was 2 RC Colas, a bag of peanuts and a trip to Algiers on the ferry and back.

 

Don gave Charlene a sweetheart ring, a cedar chest, his high school letter sweater, and his senior class ring.  They both graduated high school and worked and saved until they pooled their savings and bought a house.  They were married two months later at Holy Trinity, where Don had been baptized, received his Holy Communion, and been Confirmed as a Catholic.  As the limousine’s passed Don’s house where he was getting ready with his groomsman, Don joked that he had been waiting years for Charlene, and now she would be waiting for him at the church.

From the beginning of their running careers, they were volunteers at the New Orleans Track Club (NOTC), and generations of athletes have been welcomed by Charlene’s warm smile and Don’s gift for small talk.   While Don and Charlene grew their nuclear family from two to four, with the birth of their son and daughter, Charlene believes they grew their family by much more, with the friends who became family in the NOTC.  Don served as NOTC President in 1991, and Charlene served as NOTC President in 2002 and 2003. Don likes to remind people that he may not be the oldest NOTC volunteer, but he is probably the longest serving volunteer. Don and Charlene were both inducted in the NOTC Hall of Fame in 2014. 

A lot has changed over the fifty-three years of Don and Charlene’s marriage, and their volunteer service to the NOTC spanning five decades.  But there are a couple of things that haven’t changed.  Don and Charlene’s love story continues to grow, and they continue to share that love with the NOTC and its’ members.

 

Learn more about the Hall of Fame HERE.

 

To learn more about the history of the NOTC, you can browse the Footprints archive online HERE.

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