Yale University

In Memoriam

Robert Charles

Robert Charles
1964 graduation

Bob Charles was remembered at a Memorial Service in Battell Chapel on June 5, 2009 during our 45th reunion. Below are:

Memorial Service reading

by Stephan Klingelhofer, '64

Bob was definitely one of a kind. First, the facts: He was born and raised in St. Louis. His grandfather had been Governor of Maine, and Bob and his family spent summers there at Small Point most of his life. He graduated from Yale a member of Fence Club, in 1964, though he started in the Class of '63, and later attended Harvard business School. He was employed in a variety of jobs in business and in government, mostly maritime-related. And he was active in his community, both in neighborhood and DC matters. He loved the sea, cats, and his family.

Those are the usual kinds of facts about Bob. But an important thing to know about him was his penchant for big ideas. As an undergraduate, he had an idea about harvesting lobsters in deep water. It didn't work out, but it was brilliant. When I knew him he had developed a great idea about coordinating merchant and US naval capacity to (as I think I recall) maximize efficiency on the seas. I don't think that worked out, either. He was a visionary, but like most folks with vision, achieving the vision was harder than having it. And he was so proud of his professional sailor daughter — who sailed as he would have wanted to.

Bob was generous and unfailingly gracious; he was thoughtful; he achieved much to improve the lives of those among whom he lived in Washington. He was a good friend, and when I would visit him near the end of his life, even in great pain he'd demonstrate the generosity of spirit I'd seen in him so often. Bob was a good man.


Kent County News
Chestertown, MD
May 6, 2008

CHESTERTOWN — Robert Horne Charles Jr., age 67, of Chestertown, Md., died on Friday, April 25, 2008 at Chestertown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was the son of the late Robert H. and Olive Sewall Charles and is survived by his wife of 15 years, Anne Keer Charles. A daughter, Elizabeth C. "Lisa" McDonald and her husband, Neal, of Hamble, England; his first wife Clair Stuart Green; and his stepmother Marion Oates Charles also survive him. A brother, Sumner S. Charles and his wife, Victoria, of St. Louis, Mo.; two sisters Ellena C. Riley, and husband, Jim, of Bath, Maine; and Eliza C. Walton and husband, Bill, of New Castle, Maine survive. A brother, McCandless Charles, predeceased him. One grandchild, James L. McDonald, survives.

Robert Charles was born in St. Louis, Mo. in 1940. He attended Kent School in Connecticut and graduated from St. Louis Country Day in St. Louis in 1959. He graduated from Yale University, Class of 1964, and attended Harvard Business School. He worked for U.S. Lines (container shipping) and for the U.S. Senate as a legislative assistant. Later he worked for the Department of the Navy and the Department of Commerce as an analyst. He served as a judge on the D.C. Traffic Adjudication Board. He served as a consultant in media and government relations in Washington D.C. He was president of Foggy Bottom Citizens Association in D.C. and was involved in D.C. politics. He was a member of the Metropolitan Club of Washington D.C., the Yale Club, the George Washington University Club, and the Small Point Club in Phippsburg, Maine. He was passionate about maritime history and affairs, current affairs, cats, and especially following the travels of his daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Neal McDonald, who are international world-class sailors.

The family is planning a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Chester River Association, 100 North Cross St., Suite One, Chestertown, MD 21620; or Really Great Cats Rescue, 202 N. Radcliffe Dr., Chestertown, MD 21620.