Charles R. “Chuck” Mansfield
7/27/1938 – 10/06/2017
Charles R. “Chuck” Mansfield (1938-2017), was a devoted family man who loved his wife Arlene and his son Dave. Chuck is the son of H. Robert Mansfield and Dorothy Louise (Rice) Mansfield, was born 27 July 1938, at Lewiston, Idaho. He left and joined his maker 6 October 2017.
Chuck was always interested in aviation. In High School he formed an Air Explorer Squadron under the Boy Scouts of America. From 1958 to 1969, he worked as a Siskiyou Smoke Jumper in the summer while attending college. He fought fires for the US Forest Service throughout the Northwest from Northern California to the states of Washington, Montana, Oregon and Idaho. He met his wife Arlene in the summer of 1961, while she worked as a Smoke Jumper dispatcher at the base. Chuck and Arlene were married 10 April 1965, at the Newman Methodist Church in Grants Pass Oregon.
Chuck received a Ph.D in physics from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho in 1969. After graduating, he received a post-doctorate position at NASA in Houston, Texas. His lifelong ambition was to be an astronaut, but it was not to be because of NASA funding cuts at the beginning of his career. He worked at NASA from 1969 to 1973, in the Space Optics and Materials Technology branches at Johnson Space Center. One of the ideas proposed and submitted by him and his supervisor, Yoji Kondo, at NASA was a high speed optical instrument designed for the Large Space Telescope (LST, which was later named the Hubble Telescope). The instrument was designed to look for variable light coming from neutron stars.
On 4 July 1973, Chuck and Arlene moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Chuck accepted a position at Edgerton, Germishhausen and Greer (EG&G), which provided contract work for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In April 1976, he accepted a staff position at LANL. During 1978-1988, Chuck served as project leader for the Antares and Aurora Laser Systems. The Antares Laser was the largest carbon dioxide laser ever built. The main objective of the Aurora project was to demonstrate the feasibility of krypton and fluoride laser technology. He then went on to work on the “Star Wars” laser defense program in the late 1980’s, where he designed the Ion Injector for the ground test accelerator for the program. The Star Wars program helped contribute to the end of the Cold War in the early 1990’s.
In the 1980’s Chuck became actively involved with his son Dave’s Boy Scout Troop accompanying them on camping trips and activities all around New Mexico, freely sharing his experience and vast knowledge of nature, wilderness survival and the great outdoors. But Chuck’s great love was always aviation, and in 1985 he earned his Private Pilot License and became an Instrument Rated Pilot by 1987.
Chuck took early retirement at LANL, 3 November 1993. Not content to rest on his laurels, Chuck and Arlene operated three businesses; Coyote Aviation (an airplane rental service), Coyote Aerospace (scientific consulting and developing new laser technologies) and Coyote Tales Publishing. Chuck also was one of the founding members of the Laboratory Retiree Group and was president of that organization until last year. Chuck had published 37 scientific papers, co-authored 18 patents, wrote an analysis of the Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos in 2000, and authored a book in 2003 entitled “The Biscuit Fire” which was about the largest fire in Oregon history. That fire occurred in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, which had been created by his father, H. Robert Mansfield in 1964. During the last decade, Chuck and his wife Arlene became involved in the dendroglyph survey in the Jemez Mountains, photographing and registering the locations of carvings in aspen trees left by sheep herders, ranchers and loggers.
Chuck is survived by his wife Arlene and his son Dave. His great sense of humor, integrity, honesty and enthusiasm for life will be missed by all who knew him. A memorial service is planned in Los Alamos sometime in the near future, and at the Siskiyou Smoke Jumper base in Cave Junction, Oregon.