By Sherry Mousavi
yourhamiltonbiz.com
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

He was small in stature but huge in personality. Charlie Cetinski, local businessman and wheelchair athlete died in his sleep in Florida at the age of 69.

Cetinski, former president of Flamboro Springs (a water company), founding member of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce and founder of Golden Horse Shoe Marathon was an iconic man in the community, said Margaret Robertson, long-time family friend and business associate.

Robertson knew Cetinsky for more than 45 years and described him as a wonderful person who loved to talk and tirelessly gave back to the community. “I am blessed to have known him.”

On her Facebook page she posted: “Goodbye to a very a special friend. We will miss you. One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. He and I had such a friendship. When the Lord called our loved one home, he left us with a gift of memories in exchange. We have comfort in knowing he played a special part of a well-lived life. He is someone that we will never forget.”

Being the jack-of-all-trades, Centinski was a master electrician by trade, a pilot with a passion in flying, an aircraft builder and a successful entrepreneur who recently sold his water company.

Cetinski was born in Slovenia. He had two children, son Andy, and daughter Susan, who is past president of the Flamborough chamber.  His wife, Gertrude, died in 2010 from cancer. In 1997, Centinski suffered a spinal cord injury while test piloting a self-built aircraft. The accident left him paralyzed.

“He was absolutely convinced that someday he would walk again,” Arend Kersten, executive director of Flamborough Chamber of Commerce told YourHamiltonBiz. “Eternal optimist, a visionary, forever positive, forever smiling,” Kersten recalls.

In 1999, he founded the Golden Horseshoe Marathon to raise money for research on spinal cord injuries.

He was also one of the four wheelchair athletes on a 10,000-kilometre, cross-Canada hand cycle journey to raise funds for the Spinal Neuro Restorative Group at McMaster University. Cetinski was chosen to play a key role in Rick Hansen Man in Motion relay when it rolled out in Hamilton two years ago.

A memorial service will held in the spring.

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