Charles F. Campen, 92, passed away on March 23, 2015.
Born in Kinston, NC, to Charles F. Campen Sr. and Beatrice Melvin, Charles was a member of ‘the greatest generation.’ In 1943 he joined the US Army and served with honor as a member of the 3169th Signal Brigade in New Guinea and the Philippines. Returning to North Carolina after the war, Charles met Gertrude Loftin in a Wilmington book store; they married in 1947.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in engineering from NC State, Charles and Gerta moved to Alexandria, VA, where he worked at the Air Force Cambridge Research Center and with the Air Force Lunar Team. In the early 1960’s, they moved to Southern California, where Charles joined NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He worked on both the Mariner project (interplanetary probes), and the Ranger program, which obtained the first close-up images of the moon’s surface.
After retirement, Charles and Gerta returned to North Carolina, settling in Southport for many years before moving to Chapel Hill to be nearer to family. While in Southport they were active members of the Southport Presbyterian Church.
Charles pursued myriad interests throughout his life, including aviation (earning his private pilot’s license at age 60), computers and electronics, sailing, short wave radio, and many others.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Gertrude Loftin Campen; sister, Bea Worth of Raleigh; son David Campen (Kimiyo); daughter Katherine McMackin (Dale); daughter Virginia Campen (Michael Rosenberg); sister-in-law Eddie Wilson of Southport; and Echo Rodman of Kill Devil Hills.
A celebration of his life will be held at Croasdaile Retirement Village on Saturday, March 28th; internment will be at Southport Presbyterian Church.