COLUMBUS-Charles (Chuck) Edward Trevathan, 81, died at home in Columbus, NC on Saturday, September 28 after a valiant 10-year battle against prostate cancer. He was born on August 4, 1932 in Walnut Cove, NC; the youngest of 7 children of the late Jesse Ernest Trevathan and Mary Bailey Trevathan.
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He received a degree in electrical engineering from NC State and was an avid Wolfpack fan his entire life. After college he served 2 years in the Army. The majority of his career was spent working for NASA at the Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. He led the design team that developed NASA's first standard spacecraft computer – a design so good it has continued to be flown.
At the end of his NASA career, he was manager of the Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite, launched from the Shuttle Discovery. This satellite provided vital data that allowed scientists to better understand the causes of ozone depletion and to measure the role of human activities in atmospheric changes. A Wall Street Journal article praised him for bringing in the mission on time and under budget and further stated that the project "has become a model at NASA for how to manage a big science project."
After his retirement Chuck and his wife Helen returned to their beloved North Carolina, settling in Columbus, NC. He drew up plans for their home and worked with the builders to complete it. He then put years of energy into his favorite activity-digging in the dirt, landscaping, and growing beautiful flowers for Helen to arrange. He and Helen loved travel, especially road trips. They played in bridge tournaments all over the country, achieving the level of Silver Life Masters. He volunteered on the board of the 4-H, took part in tutoring programs, was active in the local Democratic party, and served in the Columbus Lions Club. As a Lion he was particularly proud that while he was president of the club, women were first admitted. He had a kind and generous heart.
Chuck is survived by his wife of 28 years, Helen Boucher Trevathan, and by his three children: Chuck, Jr. (Rose) of Montgomery, AL, John (Sandy Kuplis)of Montello, NV, and Sandy Trevathan of Saluda, NC. He has two grandchildren, Lindsay Trevathan of Columbia, MD, and Tim Trevathan of Seoul, South Korea. He has four surviving siblings, Mary Catherine Biggerstaff, Vivian Maitland, Louis Trevathan, and Jesse Trevathan; his brother and sister-in-law Kenneth and Miriam Boucher; and many loving nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his first wife Regina Tuck Trevathan and by two brothers, James and William Trevathan. He will also be sorely missed by his sometimes-good-dog, Mandy.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Columbus Lions Club, P.O. Box 121, Columbus, NC 28722, or Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, 130 Forest Glen Drive, Columbus NC 28722.
The memorial service will be at 2:00 P.M. Saturday, October 19, 2013 at the Tryon Depot Room; 22 Depot Street Tryon, N.C. Condolences may be made online at www.mcmahansfuneralhome.com. McMahan's Funeral Home & Cremation Services in charge of arrangements.
McMahan's Funeral Home
249 South Main Rutherfordton, NC
Published in The Times-News on Oct. 1, 2013