PORT ANGELES — Charles “Charlie” Ferris, a crooner extraordinaire and salesman supreme, died Saturday morning in a car crash on Interstate 5 north of Weed, Calif., his wife, Sherry, said Tuesday.
He was 71.
Sherry, Charlie’s wife of 20 years, said she was driving their vehicle back to Port Angeles from their home in Palm Springs, Calif., when it rolled off the road in snowy conditions.
Sherry suffered a broken hand that will require surgery.
“I didn’t expect to not have my husband,” Sherry said Tuesday as she and her daughter, Danielle, drove to Bellingham, where an operation was scheduled.
Ferris, who moved to Port Angeles two decades ago, was a self-employed singer, billing himself as a “one-man show” on his website, charlieferris.com.
The Maine native did interpretations of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, and had a studio in his and Sherry’s home on a bluff overlooking Port Angeles, which they filled with collectibles.
Ferris made his mark in the workaday world selling cars — and could he sell, Sherry said.
He once worked at Gray Motors, a used car dealer in Port Angeles.
“He loved to sell cars,” Sherry said. “He liked used cars, and he was good at it.
“He liked knowing the inventory, he always said he was very efficient at his job.
“He was truthful and fair.”
Ferris made his public mark on the music scene in Port Angeles.
“The sales profession has allowed me the ability to enjoy life,” he said on his website.
“If the commodity supplied is ubiquitous, so then can be its supplier.”
In 2008, he had a following of female fans known as “Charlie’s Angels” who fawned over his Martin and Sinatra covers, recalled longtime friend Joe Irvin, who met Ferris when he sold Irvin and his wife a truck in 2006.
Irvin, a former assistant city manager and planner in Sequim, is assistant city manager in Healdsburg, Calif.
“He was just one of those guys, when you walked into a room, you knew he was there, and he was a great friend, ” said Irvin, one of the first people outside of Ferris’ family to learn of his death.
Said one the Charlie’s Angels, Kristen Larson: “Charlie was really great at living to the max every day in every way and giving that away to all of us who listened, danced and thoroughly enjoyed him and his shows. I’m grateful to have lived at the same time and places as he.”
Ferris played in Port Angeles at the former Bushwhacker restaurant and bar, the former Wine on the Waterfront wine bar, and on cruise ships that docked in Port Angeles Harbor.
Ferris’ favorite was Roy Orbison, but he also emulated “the great crooners” such as Tony Bennett and “recent phenom Michael Buble,” he said on his website, promising to “send your Nostalgic Juices into Overdrive!”
He sang professionally in Oregon, California, Nevada, Florida, England and Australia — to name a few states and countries.
Ferris was born Jan. 11, 1948, in Portland, Maine.
At 9, the first thing he bought with his profits as a paperboy was a record player, later doing record hops in his garage and singing and practicing on his own, Sherry said.
“Somehow, he ended up with a good voice,” she said.
At 16, he was the lead singer for “The Boondockers.”
As an adult, he recreated songs from the 1950s and ’60s with background tracks, interpreting them with his dapper, finger-snapping, silken singing style.
Ferris graduated from the University of Maine with acceptance letters from four or five law schools from around the country, Sherry said.
“He probably would have been a good one,” she said. “He could talk.”
Instead, Ferris moved around and worked different jobs, Irvin said.
“He was following his heart and living a life of adventure,” he said.
“He’d like to go to a new town and pitch, and see how he could do.”
That wanderlust stayed with him in Port Angeles, brought to fruition through his passion for cars.
“He loved traveling. He loved to see things,” Sherry said.
Ferris did his last gig in October on a cruise ship docked in the harbor he could see from their bluff, Sherry said.
He is survived by a son, Todd; a stepdaughter, Danielle; a stepson, John; and three grandchildren.
An avid Seattle Seahawks and Mariners fan, Ferris enjoyed getting involved in his grandchildren’s sports activities.
“He was a great man and a great grandfather,” Danielle said Tuesday.
A celebration of life will be planned, probably for this summer, that is expected to draw Charlie’s friends from Maine to the Pacific Northwest.
“That’s something Charlie would have wanted,” Sherry said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].