Charles Mortimer MacKenzie

Charles Mortimer MacKenzie, 92, of Roanoke, Virginia, beloved husband of the late Janine MacKenzie, died peacefully on December 4, 2020. He was born October 30, 1928 to the late Charles and Sadie MacKenzie of Winthrop, Massachusetts. He met and married the love of his life, Janine, “my angel,” in 1955 and, together, they raised their family in Maryland.  He is a beloved father and grandfather and is survived by his three children, Robert MacKenzie and wife Pam, Linda Verhoeff, and Susan Hughes; six grandchildren, Andrew MacKenzie, Kelly MacKenzie, Melissa Petersen and husband Alex, Carolyn Day and husband Graham, Jessica Hughes, and Johnathon Hughes; and one great grandson, Charles Day.

As a young man, he came to know the Lord at age 13 and joined the Union Congregational Church where he enjoyed singing in the choir. As a young adult he became a member of the United Methodist Church. Charles, “Chuck,” lived out his faith by becoming a vibrant, generous, servant, and servant leader. His love of music led him to continue singing in church choirs for over 70 years. He also served on numerous committees through the years and in a variety of leadership capacities.  Chuck embraced his church communities, each being a “village” that was an integral part of his family and life.  These faith/family communities included Foundry UMC of Washington D.C., Timonium UMC of Timonium Maryland, First UMC of Cookeville, Tennessee, and lastly, Redwood UMC of Rocky Mount, Virginia. After the loss of his loving wife in 2013, he moved to the Hermitage in Roanoke, Virginia, and became a beloved and integral member of that community as well.

Chuck grew up as the only child of a single mother.  He never dreamed of going to college until a high school teacher, seeing Chuck’s potential, encouraged him to go. Chuck learned about the Cooperative Education Program at Northeastern University in Boston which would enable him to alternate work and school, giving him the ability to earn his tuition.  In addition, he also worked as an usher at Boston Symphony Hall which fueled his passion for classical music that lasted his lifetime.  He graduated in 1952 from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

Chuck’s early career was spent working for 10 years at Harry Diamond Laboratories, a research facility that was part of the National Bureau of Standards Aircraft Division, where he worked on power systems for guided missiles.  Afterward, his career led him to NASA where he worked for 37 years at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  He was responsible for the early development of technology and systems for the generation of power for satellites and space vehicles.  Chuck worked on many spacecraft and satellite systems including IRIS, AURORA, LANDSAT, NIMBUS, HELIOS and finally the EOS (Earth Observing System) and continued to work as a consultant for NASA after his retirement. His work led him to pioneer the system design approach for space power, write a number of papers in the field of space power, and serve as a consultant to several European space projects.  He received numerous awards and recognition including the APOLLO achievement award and in 1983, he was the first recipient of the Goddard Award of Merit, the highest level of recognition for the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Chuck served in the Massachusetts and Maryland National Guard.

Chuck’s family was his pride and joy. Despite a distinguished career, his greatest ambition was to be a loving husband and father, stating to Janine, “All I want to be remembered for is raising three wonderful children.”  He was an incredibly kind and humble person, extravagant (and anonymous) in his generosity, faith filled, and loving.  He enjoyed puttering in the yard, bringing his engineering skills to the labor of landscaping, gardening, and any maintenance task that came his way.  Other hobbies and interests included chess, stamp collecting, reading, model trains, listening to classical music (especially loudly while napping), going to the symphony, square dancing, visiting civil war battlefields, and spending time with his children and grandchildren whenever he was able.

The world was a brighter place for anyone who knew Chuck!  A celebration of his life will be planned for the summer of 2021. If you are interested in making a donation in his memory, the family suggests donations be made to either the Redwood UMC Building Fund or the Hermitage of Roanoke Samaritan Fund.  Arrangements by Flora Funeral Service and Cremation Center, Rocky Mount.