Charles M. Russell Sr.
1927 - 2021
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Charles M. Russell, Sr, retired, Johns Hopkins APL, Satellite Communications Systems Engineer, dies on January 10, 2021 of natural causes, in Chestertown, Maryland Born April 04, 1927, to Walter William Russell and Gertrude Schindler, in Ellensburg, WA, Charles was the youngest of four children: Walter Robert, Dorothea Sveen and Marjorie Focht, all who have predeceased him. The family moved to the Yakima Valley in the mid 1930s where Charles learned about engines and mechanics from his dad, to play basketball, and was proud of his first job as an "Apple Knocker" in the fruit warehouses of Yakima. He graduated from Yakima High School, at the age of 17, and attended the University of Washington, before joining the US Navy on his 18th birthday. He used the GI Bill to complete Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Degrees at Washington State University. Later he completed a Juris Doctorate at La Salle University. Charles began his career at McDonald Douglas Aircraft. He came east to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, to settle the estate of his older brother, Captain Walter R. Russell, who was killed in action on September 16, 1950, piloting an P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. Before heading back, Charles met Dorothy Tomlinson and, following a brief courtship, Charles married Dottie at her family home in Roxborough, PA on March 30, 1951. They moved to Santa Monica, CA to begin a dynamic partnership that lasted 51 years until Dottie's death on February 28, 2004. They were a handsome couple who loved to dance and travel but most of all they loved being a family. Their marriage produced six children: Paige R. Tilghman (Ben); Charles Milo Russell, Jr (Rosanne); Brooke R. Hilton (Richard- deceased); Steven R. W. Russell (Barbara); Richard P. Russell (Kerry) and Shelby R. Bentson (James). The family has many happy memories from their formative years including summer vacations at Yaupon Beach, NC, and Christmas was always a big deal, but the best fun was to pile into a car getting lost on the backroads and camping under the stars. Charles enjoyed a career in communications engineering at a time when the technologies were making rapid advancements. He applied his skills to the design of complex systems. The family moved to Malvern, PA in 1955 where Charles conducted engineering research at Burroughs, followed by GE, and then a move to Cinnaminson, NJ for employment with RCA, in Camden, NJ where he contributed to the Lunar Rover radio development.

In 1972 the family moved to Olney, MD, and Charles began a 30 year career at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD. He participated in many military and unclassified projects with Quality Assurance and Reliability engineering responsibilities for most of the early communication satellites launched in the 1970s and 1980s and was recognized for his work on altimeters. A career highlight was transporting a satellite through the airports of Europe, to Kenya, Africa for launch with a small team of co workers. He was a member of the Society of Quality Assurance for 40 years. Charles relocated to ACTS Community at Heron Point in Chestertown, MD, for these past five years where he thoroughly enjoyed the staff and residents and walks on the pier on the Chester River. He leaves a legacy of 13 grandchildren (Alisa Russell deceased) spread across the country and 6 great grandchildren. He encouraged them to keep trying till they got the right answer, to save their money, and to always consider the next best move. Due to Covid19 a private memorial and a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.



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Published in The Star Democrat on Jan. 13, 2021.
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January 14, 2021
My wife and Chuck's wife worked together in real estate sales so that is how I got to know Chuck plus the Russell and Pykosh families became very close. We socialized and shared in many family events including vacationing together. I had a great amount of respect and admiration for Chuck specifically for his love for his family, caring for others, knowledge, and willingness to help on any type of projects. I will never forget his advice to me that was "if it is mechanical you can easily figure out how it works and fix it". Blessings to the Russell family and RIP Chuck!
Hank Pykosh
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