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Charles Thatcher

Charles M. "Chuck" Thatcher

Tuesday, April 4th, 1922 - Wednesday, January 27th, 2021
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Obituary

Charles (Chuck) M. Thatcher passed away peacefully on January 27, 2021, succumbing to colon cancer at the age of 98. He was born in Milwaukee, WI, on April 4, 1922, the first son of Oliver V. and Carrie (Shaw) Thatcher. The family moved to Escanaba, MI in 1929. By the time he graduated from Escanaba High School as Valedictorian in the Class of ’39, Chuck had enjoyed a wide variety of activities—serving in the National Honor Society, lettering in football, playing trombone in the marching band, singing in operettas, acting in the senior class play, sailing, swimming, skiing, and editing his high school newspaper (to name but a few). After graduating from high school, Chuck attended the University of Michigan (Class of ’43, BSE in Chemical Engineering) where he played in the marching band, was an editor of The Michigan Daily, and was a member of the All-Campus Honor Society. He enlisted in the ROTC (becoming Cadet Colonel in a 1,200-man regiment), became a brother in Sigma Chi Fraternity (receiving the National Balfour Award for Leadership), and started singing in his first of many barbershop quartets.

Following his service in the Army as an Ordnance Officer from 1943 to 1946, attaining the rank of Captain, Chuck married Florence Reilly (who passed away in 1989) and returned to the University of Michigan to earn MSE and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering. He began a lifelong career in education as an Assistant Dean of Students before joining the Chemical Engineering faculty (Instructor 1947 – 1955, Assistant Professor 1956 – 1958). He left Ann Arbor to take a position as Professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY (1958 – 1965). While there he received a National Award for Teaching Excellence, authored two textbooks, served on an advisory committee for the Arctic Environmental Lab at the University of Alaska, and was the chairman of the Chemical Engineering Division, American Society of Engineering Education. Professor Thatcher was promoted to Dean of Pratt’s School of Engineering and Science (1965 – 1970). After completing his deanship, he left New York to assume the position of Distinguished Professor at the University of Arkansas (1970 – 1992). While there, he twice served as interim department head, authored a third textbook, received the All-Campus Award for Teaching Excellence, served as Chairman of University Faculty, helped create a University Faculty
Teaching Academy (1st president), received the Reynolds Metals Company Plaque Award for Consulting Service, and delivered frequent lectures on various topics, such as such time management, scholarship, technology, and leadership. Chuck retired from The University of Arkansas in 1992 in deference to a University policy mandating retirement at age 70. He was so well remembered, however, that he was called back to teach Chemical Engineering in 2005 and 2006. He enjoyed telling people that he taught his first class for pay in 1943 (one week before he reported for active duty) and his last in 2006, a span of over 60 years in education that continued unofficially until he passed away.

In 2010 Chuck left Fayetteville, AR and moved with his second wife Gladys Nichols to Milaca, MN in order to be closer to her family. Gladys passed away and Chuck moved in 2014 to Egg Harbor Township, NJ, where his daughter and son-in-law live. In keeping with his love of music, Chuck joined the Central United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and The Greater Atlantic City Boardwalk (barbershop) Chorus. Both groups have given him great joy and introduced him to good friends during the past six years. Until quite recently, Chuck retained a quick wit, a strong tenor/baritone voice, a competitive spirit in games of UNO, and proficiency in solving crossword and Sudoku puzzles. In addition to his dedication to and love of education and music, Chuck enjoyed an enduring relationship with Sigma Chi Fraternity, which he served from 1948 until he passed away. He was a faculty member of the Sigs’ National Leadership Workshop every summer. He served on the National Executive Committee (1964 – 1979) and was the Fraternity’s Grand Consul (International President) from 1975 to 1977.

Before he began to sing in “Heaven’s Choir,” Chuck arranged for a full-body donation through
Anatomy Gifts Registry. He felt that, even in death, he could continue to teach.

Chuck is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Ruth Lane Thatcher, his brother Fredrick S.
Thatcher, his niece Susan Rodriguez, his nephew Thomas Michael Thatcher, special friends Margaret Cameron and Cheryl Kovarik, and his two former wives, Florence Reilly Thatcher and Gladys Nichols Thatcher. In addition to countless friends, Chuck will be especially missed by his three lifetime families:

*The Thatcher Family: Carol Thatcher (daughter) and Greg Burke (son-in-law), Charles M.
Thatcher (son) and Mariana Roman (daughter-in-law), Judy Farrell (cousin), Kristel Thatcher
(niece), Craig Thatcher (nephew), Regina and Tom Cure, Chris Olarasu, Donna and Jack Burke,
and Michelle and Donald Stauffer;

*The Nichols Family: Randall K. (step-son) and Montine Nichols, Nancy P. Nichols (stepdaughter) and Gail Cannon, Sandy (granddaughter) and Jeff Slinde, Kent (grandson) and Kathryn Nichols, Robin (granddaughter) and Ron Zeiter, Kent (grandson) and Kendra Nichols II, Phillip (grandson) and Kira Nichols, Diana Nichols (granddaughter), and Michelle Nichols
(granddaughter); and *The McNally Walker family: Lois McNally Walker (Chuck’s loving companion for the past six years), Tom McNally, Pam Martyn and Paul Campagna, Patricia Cates and Tim Taccarino, Robert Cameron, Mimi and Jack Drozdowski, and Paula McNally and Robert Dickerson.

Special thanks to the Bayada Hospice staff and Madeline Lewis, who provided excellent and loving care to Chuck these past four months. They helped ensure that Chuck would continue to enjoy a great “quality of life,” which he always said was more important than the “quantity of life.”

In lieu of traditional remembrances, please consider honoring Chuck by donating to a charitable cause of your choice, or sing a song, tell a joke, play a game of UNO, watch an episode of MASH, give the people you love lots of hugs, be kind and generous to others, eat a Klondike Bar, and toast his memory with an ice cold root beer!

Burial will be private at a time when it is finally safe to gather.
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Service Details

Burial will be private.

Affiliations

  • US Army

Condolences

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Private Condolence
BT

Bill Thomson

Posted at 04:37pm
"Chuck", as we knew him at Pratt Institute, in 1960, was a remarkable teacher and mentor. His enthusiasm was downright contagious. One of the biggest compliments I ever received in my 35 year teaching career in Chemical Engineering was when someone in the audience where I was presenting a research paper, stated that I reminded him of Chuck. My sincere condolences to his family
JG

Judy Gaul

Posted at 12:29pm
Our family was blessed to know Dr. Thatcher when my husband, Vince, was a non-traditional student at the U of A. Vince had the privilege of not only being a student of Dr. Thatcher's, but he got to work with him as an intern for his work for Reynolds. Chuck saw so much potential in Vince, fired that flame while encouraging a very tired momma (me) who was home trying to raise the 3 kids while their daddy pursued his education. There are many stories of his quiet kindness to us that held me together in the midst of the stress of that season of our life for which I will always be grateful. We were so blessed to be able to see him through the years following graduation & continue to receive his friendship & wisdom from afar. The potential that he saw & inspired in Vince through the years is something for which I'll always be grateful. To say he will be missed is a huge understatement. Our love & prayers are with his family.
HW

Heather Logue Walker

Posted at 01:17am
I had the privilege of having Dr. Thatcher for more than one class in my ChemE career. He was an amazing teacher! On the first day of class, we all had assigned seats and he had already memorized all of our names. He would jump on desks, throw money, and had the highest bar possible for his students. But oh my goodness, we learned the material and loved him as a professor. Truly one of the best! I'm a professor now and I aspire to teach like him. I still use a unit converstions sheet called the Thatcher's sheet. He is an icon in the University of Arkansas' ChemE department and he will be deeply missed. My deepest sympathies to the family.
NN

Nancy Nichols

Posted at 11:34pm
C - H - U - C - K

C- Charles, Captain, Chemical Engineer, (grand) Consul, Chuck, Chuckie, Chuckles.

H- Huggable, Honorable, Honest, Happy, Husband, Honey, Hardy, Handsome, Hardworker, Harmonizer.

U- Uplifting, Unwavering, Unity of family, Utterly wonderful man.

C- Caring, Classy, Champion, Cute, Coastal, Condiment (mayo), Coach, Charismatic, Clever, Creative, Committed.

K- Kind, Keen, Kissable, Klondike, Keynote speaker, Kinesthetic, Knowledgeable, Keeper.

Now...... in
(C)hrist's
(H)ands
(U)nified with
loved ones
(C)hrist's
(K)eeper.
JG

John Gathright

Posted at 03:03pm
Dr. Thatcher was a special man. A great teacher, a man i feared and respected. I learned so much from him. He was strict, and demanding, and most importantly, fair. I have spoken of him often to my family and friends. One episode in particular is at the center of most of my stories about him. I voluntarily answered a question in his class. He responded by getting in my face and asking if i was sure, than asking the class if they agreed (something along the lines of 'who believes this guy'). I was terrified, but responded that yes I was sure. He smiled his huge smile and said 'good, because that is the correct answer.' As my fear waned, i realized how important this was to me and i am a better leader and engineer because of Dr. Thatcher. Rest In Peace you marvelous man.
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