Charles H. “Charlie” Price died peacefully at his home on June 1, 2019, at age 90. Born in the rural town of Stamps, Arkansas in 1929, he grew up during the hardship of the Depression, sometimes with no running water or electricity. Following junior college, he enlisted in the Air Force and became a pilot, flying P-51 Mustangs during the Korean War. On his 13th mission, his plane was shot down behind enemy lines; he bailed out, was captured and held as a prisoner of war in North Korea for 19 months. Charlie survived and returned to the States to build a life of his own. One evening, while a flight instructor in Sumter, South Carolina, he went on a blind date with a spunky nursing student named Mildred (“Nippy”). It wasn’t too long before he buzzed her dorm in his P-51, which got both of them into a little bit of trouble, but they always said that it was worth it!
They married in 1955 and started their life together on the University of Arkansas campus, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. Over the next four decades, he built an esteemed career with Boeing, contributing to some of the most notable U.S. aerospace programs, including the Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon. While Charlie and Nippy raised two sons, the Space Race sent the family bouncing from state-to-state, until they finally settled in the Seattle area in 1969. Charlie continued engineering work on cutting-edge aerospace programs, including a satellite boost system (IUS) that was carried into orbit by the space shuttle. He retired from Boeing as a chief engineer in 1992.
Once retired, he had plenty of time to travel the world and loved spending hours each week with his ‘very special’ granddaughters, teaching them everything from how to tie their shoes to helping them chisel crystals out of his landscaping rocks. Charlie loved the arts and treating friends and family to a night out on the town, so his calendar was always filled with music, dance and theater performances. In his later years, he wanted a new adventure, the soaring mountains and open skies of Montana called to him. He spent his last years enjoying the close community and natural beauty of the Bitterroot Valley.
Everyone who knew Charlie remembers him as inquisitive, gentle, gracious, wily and generous, and will miss his intense tenacity and loving heart. Charlie is preceded in death by Nippy (2003). He is loved and honored by friends and family, including his two sons, Chuck (wife Joan) and Wade (wife Vivian), and his four granddaughters, Monica, Rachel, Stephanie and Andrea. He will be interred with full military honors at Tahoma National Cemetery in Maple Valley, Washington, on June 20, at 2 p.m. local time. Celebrations of life will be held in the Bitterroot Valley and in Bellevue, Washington (dates TBD). In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Headstrong-Healing Hidden Wounds of War, a nonprofit that provides mental health services for veterans (www.getheadstrong.org). Remembrances and condolences may be shared at the Daly Leach Chapel website (www.dalyleachchapel.com).