Charles "Speed" Joiner, Jr. (1921 - 2015) Betterton/Chestertown, MD
Charles Joiner, Jr. was born on July 19, 1921, in Betterton, MD, the son of the late Charles W. Joiner, Sr. and Lena Luike Joiner. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II with the Navy Seabees, and was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. Joiner returned to Kent County, MD, and worked for Chestertown Electric (now Delmarva Power) as a lineman and later as a manager. He passed away on March 13, 2015 at age 93.
Joiner was a renowned decoy carver who began carving as a teen, working out of a small workshop behind the home of a grandparent. Later he came under the tutelage of R. Madison Mitchell (1901-1993), a highly regarded regional carver. In the late 1940s Joiner became acquainted with Steve (1895-1976) and Lem (1896-1984) Ward, with whom he became friends. Joiner would later observe that his style of carving and painting included a combination of Mitchell’s and the Ward Brothers’ styles.
Throughout his life, Joiner carved over 40,000 working decoys and an unknown number of miniature and half-size carvings. In his own words: “I’ve carved a few ducks.” His Canvasbacks, Black Ducks, and Redheads are considered among his best works. Joiner's nickname of "Speed" is usually attributed to his deft skill at carving and painting; however, he claimed that he inherited it from his father and its origin is unknown.
Joiner enjoyed shooting and hunting, and created decoys suited to the rough waters of the upper Chesapeake Bay. His early working decoys tend to be larger than life with rounded bottoms; they were made for hunting in his environment. Joiner eventually gave up hunting, and following retirement he turned his hand to producing primarily decorative decoys for collectors.
Charles Joiner was more than a beloved decoy maker. He was also a member of the Frank M. Jarman American Legion Post #36 in Chestertown, MD, an active member of the Havre De Grace Decoy Museum where he was a charter member, and he was a charter member of the Betterton Volunteer Fire Company.