Charles Raymond Hexom was born in Portland and grew up in the Rock Creek area and graduated from Aloha High School. Charley lived in the Portland area his entire life with the exception of 3 years in LaGrande, Oregon (1979-1981).
In 1970, Charley's life took a dramatic turn when he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Charley never let his injury keep him from accomplishing his goals. Charley went on to a successful career in the auto body repair business, working at Beaverton Auto Rebuilders, Precision Body and Paint and ultimately managing Tigard Collision Rebuilders.
One of Charley's primary goals was to have fun. He loved to fly airplanes, both real and radio controlled models.
In 1984 Charley built his own racecar and started racing at Portland International Raceway. As a pioneer using hand controls to operate his car, Charley broke many barriers and paved the way for other handicapped drivers to enter the sport.
During those first 5 years of racing up and down the West Coast, Charley racked up championships in ICSCC and SCCA, culminating in a 3rd place finish in the SCCA National Championships at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Georgia. Following his dream, Charley became a professional driver for Team Mitsubishi competing in events across the country and even the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. Part of the Team Mitsubishi experience included a partnership with the Starlite Foundation which involved visits to Children's Hospitals where the team would take racecars and Charley could visit with the children giving inspiration and hope, and a chance to sit in a racecar.
In 1993, Charley co-founded Performance Mobility, a company dedicated to building and equipping vehicles so those with physical limitations could drive. Charley ensured the business was always run with honesty and integrity, which in turn inspired loyalty from his employees and his many customers. Performance Mobility has become one of the premier adaptive equipment dealers on the West Coast and Charley a highly regarded successful businessman.
Despite his humble beginnings, and a terrible tragedy early in life, Charley remained a role model to many, a courageous individual with a sense of humor unequaled.
Charley died after a long battle with cancer at his home in Portland, Oregon
Reprinted courtesy of the Oregonian