Charles F. Wunderlin ’41ME
Charles Francis, age 95, of Fairfield passed away peacefully on August 15th 2015. Charlie was born and grew up in Bayonne, NJ during the Great Depression. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Charlie met Fran, his wife of 74 years, in Bayonne. They were engaged the evening before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Charlie served as a Flight Engineer for the US Army Air Corps during WW II. Upon returning from the war, he and Fran moved to Franklin Lakes, NJ. In the late 1940's, Charlie worked as an engineer for Curtiss Wright Aeronautics while also attending night school at Columbia University. They did not own a car; Charlie hitched rides from the local police chief to get to and from Columbia University where he earned his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He proudly served as a volunteer fireman for more than 20 years; and played Santa Claus for the children of Franklin Lakes.
After 24 years at Curtiss Wright, Charlie and Fran moved to Fairfield where Charlie took a job with General Electric, where he worked in their aircraft engine division for over 30 years. Charlie traveled extensively to France, England, Saudi Arabia, and Russia while managing and supporting aircraft engine design, production, and sales. He volunteered to repair audio devices for the blind for the Cincinnati Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Charlie's true passion was flying. He earned his pilot's license at age 17. During his student pilot flight training, a mechanical issue once forced him to make an emergency landing at Brooklyn's Canarsie Dump. His work with aircraft engines was another passion. Charlie was an amazing source of information about anything related to aircraft. In his free time, he enjoyed skiing, and often traveled to Colorado and Montana to ski with family members. He was a fine bowler; actively followed the stock market; and was quick to join in lively political discussions. Charlie had a strong work ethic and was frugal by nature; he took great pride in saving a few dollars whenever possible. Charlie was a devout Catholic and member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Fairfield. Despite his health issues in recent years, he rarely missed a Saturday evening mass. Charlie is survived by his wife Frances and daughters Karen (John) Savage and Gail (Phil Clavey) Wunderlin ; grandchildren Scott Savage, Megan Savage Hart, and Alex Wunderlin Beigh; and great grandchildren Lucas Savage, William Hart and Andrew Hart.