Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018

Charles Walsh

Date: 
06/29/1930 - 01/02/2015

Charles Walsh, 84, Harvard, died Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, after a long illness.  

He was born June 29, 1930, to Elmer Michael Walsh Sr. (the former sheriff of Cook County) and Grace Farwell Walsh.

He grew up on the south side of Chicago where he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory School and then transferred to St. Joseph High School in St. Joseph, Mich. He left the Midwest in 1947 for the Severn School in Severna Park, Md., to prepare for his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. Upon graduation from Annapolis in 1952 with a degree in electrical engineering, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. At that time, one-third of each class from West Point and Annapolis were commissioned into the Air Force. Also upon graduation, he married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Kleinman Walsh. They would go on to raise their eight children in Deerfield and Bannockburn. She preceded him in death. During the Korean War, he served as a nuclear weapons officer and bombardier aboard the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, the largest bomber aircraft in history. 

Following his military service, he took his entrepreneurial spirit and engineering acumen to the industry of high technology. In 1962 he launched Nuclear Diodes, which became EDAX in 1972, a company that still exists and is the worldwide leader in energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, wavelength dispersive X-ray spectrometry and micro X-ray fluorescence systems. While at the helm of these companies, he led the development of the world’s first X-ray capability for electron microscopes and received the Presidential “E” from the U.S. Commerce Department for excellence in commerce.   

In the mid 1970s, he sold EDAX to Philips of Eindhoven, Netherlands, and began another career, this time in the boating industry of South Florida. The company he initially founded designed and built the fly-bridge vessel that would eventually become the world-renowned Blackfin 32-foot sport fisherman. In 1979, he started Walsh Yachts Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where he and his current wife, Gail Johnson Walsh, sold yachts for more than 20 years. During that time, he wrote and published the “Yacht Brokerage Bible,” the industry’s first how-to book. It was so highly regarded that the state of Florida used it as an educational resource for income tax training.

In the 1990s, he started Apreamare of North America, importing and selling yachts from Sorrento and Sarnico, Italy.  During his time in Ft. Lauderdale, he was active in the community. He was president of the Executive Association of Ft. Lauderdale, a Cub Scout den leader, U.S. Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer to numerous high schools in Broward County, member of the Lauderdale Yacht Club, patron of the arts and active parishioner of St. Anthony Catholic Church.

In 2003 he and his wife returned to their roots in Northern Illinois. During his later years, he loved to ride his tractors and mowers, work projects in his shop and avidly read current events and history.

He was a supremely fascinating man with an inimitable spirit, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a constant desire to create. While he had many life adventures, perhaps those pursuits for which he will most be remembered were aviation, fishing and woodworking. He began his aviation career flying the N3N Yellow Peril, the last biplane in active U.S. military use. As a pilot, he accrued thousands of hours, held many type ratings and owned multiple aircraft. As a fisherman, he battled thousand-pound Marlin and put the gaff to many 500-pound tuna, but was most fond of wading the Michigan streams of his boyhood, admiring the delicate iridescence of an 8-inch brook trout. To family and friends, his master woodworking creations will live on as enduring legacies of his creativity, attention to detail and craftsmanship.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years; their son, Lt. Cmdr. Brian P. (Anne) Walsh, USN; eight children by his first marriage, Michael S. (Linda) Walsh, Mary Elizabeth Walsh, Charles J. Walsh Jr., Peter M. Walsh, Timothy K. (Sally) Walsh, Kathryn J. Walsh (Joe Espina), Clareann (Geoffrey) James and Robert F. (Diana) Walsh; a brother, Elmer Michael (Betty) Walsh Jr.; a sister, Mary Walsh Brand; a brother-in-law, Terry (Nancy) Johnson; 10 grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.  

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Alida C. Walsh; his first wife; and in-laws, Eugene R. and June A. Johnson.

Per his wishes, a Mass and celebration of life will be held in the spring, to be announced at a later date.

Memorial donations can be made to JourneyCare, 405 N. Lake Zurich Road, Barrington, IL 60010; or to Wounded Warrior Project. Inurnment will be at the U.S. Naval Academy Columbarium in Annapolis.