COMARA - COMSAT Alumni & Retirees Association - Oct 16, 2016

JOSEPH VINCENT CHARYK - September 28, 2016

Joseph Charyk JOSEPH VINCENT CHARYK (Age 96) Of Delray Beach, FL, Falmouth, MA and formerly of Washington, D.C. passed away peacefully on Wednesday, September 28, 2016. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career, making key contributions to the field of global telecommunications. Charyk is widely credited as the founder of the geosynchronous communications satellite industry.

Joseph Charyk was born in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, on September 9, 1920. After graduating from the University of Alberta, he came to the United States, earning a Ph.D in Aeronautics, magna cum laude, from California Institute of Technology, where he was mentored by the renowned aerodynamic theoretician Theodore von KÁrmÁn. It was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech where he met his lifelong love, Edwina Rhodes, whom he would marry on August 18, 1945.

Charyk was a Professor of Aeronautics at Princeton University from 1946 to 1955, where he helped to establish the Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center. It was during his years at Princeton that Charyk accompanied his mentor Professor von KÁrmÁn on visits to the home of Albert Einstein.

Charyk served as Assistant Secretary-Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force from 1959 until he was appointed Undersecretary of the Air Force. In 1961 he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to concurrently serve as the first Director of the National Reconnaissance Office. In September 1962, as NRO Director, Charyk played a central role in providing critical intelligence to President Kennedy and his top advisors throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Dr. Charyk became President and a director of the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT), shortly after the organization's inception in 1963. His leadership guided the launch of a global system that would eventually seem commonplace to billions of people around the world. While at Comsat, Charyk served as President, CEO, and Chairman from 1963 to 1985.

In addition to his role at Comsat, he served on the boards of several corporations, including Abott Laboratories and Draper Laboratories.
In 1974 he received the International Emmy Directorate Award for his work with Comsat.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded Charyk the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

When asked about which of his many accomplishments he felt were the most significant, Dr. Charyk would invariably mention that he felt most proud of his family, his loving wife Edwina, his children, and as the years passed, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He reveled in any opportunity to bring family members together, such as the unforgettable cruises and extended family vacations that he and Edwina organized to mark major wedding anniversaries.

For many years, Joe and Edwina divided their time between their lakeside home in Falmouth, MA and their home overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway in Delray Beach, FL. Edwina passed away in 2013, shortly before what would have been their sixty-eighth wedding anniversary.

Charyk is survived by his children William, John, Chris, and Diane and their spouses, nine grandchildren and their spouses, and seven great grandchildren.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Falmouth, MA. Dr. Charyk will also be remembered with a funeral mass at 11 a.m. at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach, FL on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any of the following:

  1. California Institute of Technology for the use and benefit of the Charyk Laboratory for Bio-Inspired Design Fund;
  2. University of Alberta Foundation, USA, Inc. to be used for scholarships and/or research at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in memory of Joseph Charyk;
  3. St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach, Florida;
  4. St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Lorne and Sons Funeral Home - Delray Beach
745 NE 6th Ave.
Delray Beach, FL 33483
(561) 276-4161

Published in The Washington Post on Oct. 16, 2016

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