Friends remembered former Rock Hill city court judge Charles "Sugar" Chiles as a loyal friend who never lost his fun-loving spirit, even in the later years of his life.
Chiles died Tuesday at 77.
Few knew the man better than William "Red" Ferguson, the retired York County solicitor who met Chiles in their college days in the 1950s. The two later became law colleagues, neighbors and best friends.
"Friendship meant something to him," Ferguson said. "If you were his friend, and a lot of people were, you just knew you could count on him."
Chiles relished showing off a lighter side, even in the courtroom. Ferguson recalled a day when Chiles was arguing a case before Judge Frank Eppes, a legendary circuit court judge from Greenville. Eppes slipped up and accidentally called on Chiles as "Sugar."
"He looked at Judge Eppes and said, 'Judge, in the judicial arena here, I would rather be called by my nickname, Charles,'" Ferguson recalled. "He just had a quick wit."
Bill and Ann Spencer, close family friends, remember driving their boat toward home on Lake Wylie and hearing music being played on a radio.
"And Sugar would be on the porch, dancing away by himself to old blues, old rock 'n roll music," Ann Spencer recalled. "Just dancing away by himself."
Members of the York County Bar served as honorary pallbearers at Chiles' funeral Friday at St. John's United Methodist Church.
Charles ran a private law practice in Rock Hill from 1966 to 1996. From 1970 to 1973, he was Rock Hill city court solicitor, and from 1974 to 1996, he was Rock Hill city court judge.
At that time, Chiles was removed from the bench and pleaded guilty to official misconduct for fixing a ticket in a drunken-driving case. A probe resulted in the departures of other court personnel and a restructuring of the municipal court system.
During that difficult period, Chiles was buoyed by public support from then-City Councilwoman Maxine Gill, retired Police Chief Clyde Long and former City Councilman Henry Woods, who wrote letters testifying to his character.
Friends say he spent his retirement enjoying music, watching baseball, visiting the beach and keeping in touch with the friends he accumulated over a long career.