Nixon White House Staffer, Charles Stuart, Dies at 69
Charles Stuart, Union College class of 1959, died August 19, 2007 at the ageof 69 at his home at Rose Hill [not Rose Hills Manor] in Port Tobacco,
Charles grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and after Union served in the U.S.
Army, then worked in several jobs briefly before joining Joe Coons ’59 at radio
station WOHI in East Liverpool, Ohio in 1961, where he was sales manager. In
1965, Chuck moved to New York City joining the Papert, Koenig & Lois Advertising
Agency. After a brief time, he joined Walter E. Heller Company, involved in
corporate finance, where one of his interesting tasks was handling the
bankruptcy liquidation of A. C. Gilbert Company, the manufacturer of American
Flyer trains and the famous Erector Sets. During his time he met and married
his wife, Constance.
Chuck was always interested in Republican politics, and while in New York he
volunteered as a fund-raiser, and since A. C. Gilbert was in Connecticut, was
made fund-raising chairman for a part of that state. After the nomination of
Richard Nixon for president in 1968, he was asked to become an “advance man” for
the Nixon campaign, and took a leave of absence from Heller. As was true with
everything he tackled, he excelled in his political work, and so when Nixon was
elected, he was asked by John Ehrlichman, Counsel to the President, to become
part of the his staff in the White House, which Chuck accepted. Chuck was the
only non-lawyer to work for Ehrlichman.
In 1972 when Nixon’s first term was ending as is customary he tendered his
resignation to the president, but Chuck meant it! Not touched at all by the
Watergate scandal (Charles was very, very ethical and honest) he then became a
vice president, and later president, of Interstate General Company, the
developers of the City of St. Charles, Maryland. Begun in 1968, this planned
community now has 35,000 population, and almost all of its major growth was
under Charles’ leadership. He built roads, hired police and fire personnel…he
Also in 1972, Chuck and Connie mortgaged everything to acquire Rose Hill, a
326-acre farm in Port Tobacco. The farm was built beginning in 1774 by Dr.
Gustavus Brown, who was George Washington’s physician. Listed on many historic
registers, preservation of the farm became Chuck’s passion, as in the early
years of his ownership he struggled to repair, improve, and save this great
estate from deterioration; by the time of his death, the estate was still an
enormous task for them, but he revered its history and its grandeur in the
Federal style and his work didn’t falter.
Meanwhile, in 1975 at the age of 38, Charles had been diagnosed with a brain
tumor caused by the disease menengioma. After what was then a risky brain
surgery, the tumor was removed, but over the next 31 years he was to have twelve
more brain surgeries removing a total of 16 tumors; he had two more that had not
been excised when he died. After each surgery with its debilitating side
effects, he would rehabilitate himself almost completely through incredible
self-discipline, and until his death he was as fit, trim, and strong as anyone
could be, given his circumstances.
Until shortly after his last surgery in May, 2007, when it was discovered he
had the two more tumors and he was left almost completely paralyzed, he always
thought about and talked about what he could do. He treated his physical
situation realistically, with great courage, and through his entire life
maintained his great sense of humor.
Chuck’s circle of friends was very wide, and he received many honors in his
local community. Most noted as a boyhood Explorer Boy Scout and later
benefactor to the scouting community, he was the first recipient of a major
honor in Charles County which has become an annual scouting dinner; in the early
21st century he was greatly involved in a major building project at an Episcopal
church which resulted in very substantial improvements; and he is being
posthumously recognized for his preservationist work restoring the magnificent
Rose Hill historic farm by dedication to him of the publication of a book about
the history of Charles County. He and Constance often let the farm be used for
big fundraising events.
Charles was a very serious student of world and American history, a devoted
hunter and fisherman, a world traveler, and especially a mentor to younger
people. Although he had no children of his own, he was a devoted “big brother”
to his two younger sisters and a beloved uncle to his five nieces and nephews.
He was genuinely pleased that in his career he offered equal opportunity to
people of all races and both genders, and he acknowledged learning much from his
fellow men and women, always crediting them with their contributions, as
particularly evidenced in his short stories. Although a serious Republican, he
was by no means rigid and seemed to be very Libertarian in many of his views.
Chuck was also a pretty skilled mechanic with an interest in classic Lincoln
Continental cars, and rebuilt an U.S.Army ambulance to be an RV for hunting; the
ambulance became a source of many anecdotes among his friends, particularly
recalling it presence in the White House Executive Wing parking lot!
In 2005 his book Never Trust a Local was published, detailing some of the
incidents and activities of his advance-man years; it is listed on Amazon.com.
In 2007, just before his death, with the help of Joe Coons, class of 1959,
Bin Laden’s Second Strike, an exciting novel (in the style of Day of the
Jackal) was edited and readied for print. Sadly, although he desperately wanted
to see it published, it didn’t quite get to that stage before he passed away.
Now Bin Laden’s Second Strike is available at Amazon.com. Just before his
death Chuck established the CES Book Trust to hold the copyright to this book
and several short stories, plus a book he was writing using voice-recognition
software about his brain surgery experiences, 18 and Counting. The Trust will
give all proceeds to charity, the largest of which will be a scholarship fund to
be established at Union!
In the opinion of his many friends Charles Stuart was everything a Union
alumnus should be: A highly ethical, caring person who cherished his friends,
family and community, while using all of his faculties to expand his knowledge
and make a positive and lasting difference in the world. His memorial service
was attended by a wide array of friends and his beloved family at Rose Hill on
September 25, 2007.
Now, even after his death, Chuck’s legacy goes on…at Union and at Rose