In Crisis or Comedy
Here is the man you want in a crisis: while everyone squawks, he is listening. A great bear of a fellow, his eyes bright blue and calm, white- haired head nodding, he says, "Hmmmm." Then, "I'll take care of it." And he does.
Charles Mathers, 61, whose quiet sparkle attracted innumerable friends, clients and employees, spent a lifetime handling crises. As a young man he served in the Navy for six years, much of it in a nuclear submarine. In Sea Girt, N.J., where he and Margaret, his wife of 39 years, raised three children, he was a volunteer firefighter for a quarter-century. He traveled around the world, consulting on insurance for utilities, including nuclear power plants.
But for all his responsibilities, Mr. Mathers, a managing director at Marsh & McLennan, was hardly slathered with gravitas. On the contrary.
This summer, at a conference of utility clients, insurers and brokers in Chicago, Mr. Mathers's company was host to a dinner. Mr. Mathers made brief remarks and introduced an executive client. "And here's one risk Chuck may not have considered," the client said, then planted a shaving-cream pie in Mr. Mathers's face. Several hundred otherwise staid people gasped and fell all over with laughter.
Mr. Mathers had planned the entire stunt.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 18, 2001.