A beloved local artist and art instructor, Chuck Hanes, died suddenly from a heart attack on Aug. 19, his 61st birthday.

Hanes, along with his wife Elizabeth Collins Hanes, helped run the award-winning Art for Life program at Morgan County Crossroads School in Madison. Known as a “gentle giant,” Hanes could often be found crafting compelling art with his students, taming and befriending wildlife, or exploring the great outdoors with his family and friends.

“Chuck Hanes, our beloved husband, father, and friend, left us suddenly and peacefully on his birthday this Thursday, Aug. 19. Chuck was enjoying hearing from his family members and friends as he celebrated living 61 years and passed away quickly in his home from a heart attack,” said a statement from the family’s GoFundMe page. “Chuck was known and loved by so many. The roots of Chuck’s relationships reach far and wide across Madison and beyond, touching many with his kindness, creativity, and authenticity. Chuck was a Madison native, an incredible potter, a skilled blacksmith, an outdoorsman, a caring husband, father, grandfather, and brother, and a genuine and honest person. He was much more than I could write here. ‘Gentle giant’ is a way many remember him. He is loved by so many and will be missed terribly.”

“Chuck lived his life one day at a time. He lived joyfully and loved deeply connecting with people and nature. He shared his heart openly and was always genuine,” said his wife, Elizabeth Collins Hanes.

Hanes partnered with the Madison Artists Guild for years to promote art in the local community.

“Chuck was an integral part in the success of MAG in its early years, serving as Gallery Manager for a long period of time as well as a host of additional essential roles through the years. We are grateful for the 10-plus years he chose to dedicate his skills as teacher, mentor and potter to Morgan County youth through the Art for Life program,” said a statement from the Madison Artists Guild (MAG). “Chuck Hanes’ untimely death on Aug. 19 was a shock to the Madison Artists Guild and our community.”

Morgan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Virgil Cole expressed condolences after Hanes’ passing.

“Mr. Hanes was a shining example of someone who worked to make a positive difference in our world, especially in the lives of young people who needed it the most,” said Cole. “He used art to nurture our students and community, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Athen Lee, principal of Crossroads, praised Hanes’ dedication to the students and has arranged for grief counselors to come to the school this week to help students process the tragic loss of their favorite mentor.

“We are just heartbroken,” said Lee. “A lot of people called Chuck a gentle giant and that’s exactly who he was. You wouldn’t think it by looking at him that he would connect with the kind of students we work with, but he did. Our students adored Chuck and they adore Elizabeth. For a lot of them, he was the male role model many of our students don’t necessarily have at home.”

The community is already rallying around the Hanes family, generously donating to the family’s GoFundMe page to help support his wife, Elizabeth Collins Hanes, and cover his memorial service costs. As of Monday, Aug 23, $3,005 has been donated to the family. To give to the Hanes family, visit: gofund.me/80179a58. The Madison Artists Guild is also accepting donations for the Art for Life program in Chuck Hanes’ memory. Learn more about Art for Life or donate at themadisonartistsguild.org/outreach.

“The outpouring of love our families have received during this time has meant the absolute world to us, and we cannot begin to express our thanks,” said a statement from the family. “If you feel compelled to donate in memory of Chuck, we would all be very grateful for that.”

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