August 18, 1939 - February 10, 2021 Tall, lanky Charley strode up to a trim blonde named Kay Chappell at Kansas State University and said, "I don't believe we've met. I'm Charles Smith." This was his approach to life. He wasn't afraid to take a chance, was always game to try something new. During a two week holiday break from work, Charley learned how to create stained glass panels, then bought the many supplies necessary for such a project. When completed, the small panel was rough and plain, but inspired the couple to refine their efforts, and create windows custom-designed by the Glass-Smiths. Sailing, skiing, and roller skating were among his many sports. A bon vivant, fine dining often took place at modest ethnic cafes, particularly Vietnamese. If language was a barrier in ordering food, he simply pointed to a dish at the next table. Musical, he enjoyed live jazz and classical concerts, and played trombone in his college marching band.He loved his career in aerospace, as a chemist at McDonnell-Douglas (now Boeing). The International Space Station was one of his more recognizable projects, and after a few years working on that he earned his "rocket scientist" moniker. That really pleased him. After a long distinguished career, and having earned a fearsome reputation playing ping-pong in the plant rec-hall, Charley reluctantly retired.Charley and Kay were the best of friends and lovers, married 51 happy years. Francophiles, they were eager ambassadors of French culture, and made their home in Fountain Valley a little bit of Provence. Taught by their tutor Catherine, they studied for years to attain French fluency. When they travelled, this literacy opened doors to outstanding culinary and cultural experiences. They had a dozen trips throughout their cherished France, the last with their grandson Brandon and his wife Stacey. Together they raised a son, Brian, as well as their grandson Brandon, and both have turned out to be good men.Declining health changed Charley's last three years of life. He passed away peacefully in his sleep. By his request there will be no services, so when you are next enjoying a delectable meal with dear friends and family, take a moment to lift a glass to Chas- he'd love it!
Published in Los Angeles Times from Apr. 21 to May 2, 2021.