By Kathy Feist
Martin City K-8 math teacher Charles Criniere was bicycling south along View High Drive near Longview Community College early on August 27 when he was hit by a car from behind. He died at the scene while the car sped on.
Since then, an outpouring of support from the community has grown into national attention from affiliate news stations and magazines. A GoFundMe page set up to help the family has raised more than $150,000 by August 31. Criniere, age 43, leaves behind Meg, a stay-at-home mother, and his 10 children ages 1 to 20.
He also leaves behind his family of Grandview High School and Martin City K-8 students whose lives he touched beyond that of a math teacher.
“Mr. Criniere was a wonderful teacher, loved by his students and colleagues. The difference he made was lasting. He will be incredibly missed,” reads a statement from the Grandview School District.
“He had a passion for kids, whether in the classroom, a home group or in his ministry field,” recalls his neighbor and family spokesman Ken DeBenedictis.
“He was such a magnet for kids, especially those who didn’t grow up with dads. He would fill the gap for them when they were going through a rough patch.”
In addition to teaching, Criniere was deacon at Grace Point Baptist Church as well as an early morning visitor to International House of Prayer down the road from his home in the Royal Oaks neighborhood.
“So many people are rejoicing and celebrating his life,” says DeBenedictis. “Because that was what he was about. He had so much life in him.”
The Kansas City Police Department has released a description of the vehicle involved in the hit and run: a white 2017 to 2020 Acura MDX with damage to the right front passenger side and grill area of the vehicle.
“We are praying for that person,” says DeBenedictis. “We want that person to see that he affected the lives of some pretty important people and kids.”
DeBenedictis says the community started the GoFundMe page to meet the practical needs of the large family. “We want Meg to focus on the kids and raise them. We would like to see their house and car paid off.”
A visitation is planned for Wednesday, August 31, at 3 pm at the Forerunner Church at the corner of Grandview Rd and Blue Ridge Blvd. in Grandview. A memorial service will follow at 6:30 pm.