Deceased December 23, 2015
I first met Charlie a couple of days before classes began our freshman year, in September 1956, and we joined the same fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, where we served—Chas with distinction—as back-to-back senior year presidents.
Something in our respective chemistries, and certainly in the eerie similarity of our family backgrounds, must have operated to make us friends during our Amherst days, because in other ways we were clearly different people. Charlie was math/economics/science oriented, while I emphatically was not. (We shared his run-in with Humanities I as a lifelong joke, although in his self-effacing way he made far more of it than I, while I countered with a Science I debacle’s clear and thoroughly accurate assessment of my own quantitative skills).
And on the social side, suffice it to say that Charlie was king of our senior prom, while his queen, Priscilla Grant, went on to become his first wife and the mother of his subsequent children, Deborah and Karen. He was an unabashed “snow man,” in the parlance of the day, while for the most part I still struggled with getting past stiff elbows at Smith dorms’ goodnight kiss time.
After graduating with the class of 1961, Charlie embarked on a lifetime career in the investment field, starting out at M. A. Shapiro, then moving on to New Court Securities, E. M. Warburg Pincus and, finally, leaving all of them in the dust when he established his own firm in 1983 and, soon after, invited former colleague and wife since 1975, Kristin Gamble, to join him in 1984, thus establishing Flood Gamble Associates, which has flourished in the private investment management business ever since. Kristin and Charlie recently merged with American Capital Management.
My lifelong friendship with Charlie was really established during his early professional career, when we managed to partially synchronize our child-bearing with the two years I spent with my then wife, Sandy, in between assignments abroad, in New York City. (We actually brought our first child home from the hospital to live with Charlie and Pixie for over a week, at a time they were already coping with a recent baby of their own, Deborah). So we all romped and picnicked together with those little children in Central Park, just as later, when my own first marriage broke up in close synchrony with Charlie’s, I brought my girls from their home in Florida on monthly visits, and we joined them again frequently with Jon Friendly’s (another classmate and my cousin’s) family in Leonia, N.J.
Then Charlie met and married Kristin, and the venue for conjoining moved to her delightful little country house in Hudson, N.Y., while over time, after I remarried myself, three more children were added to the mix. Sometimes, the child total was fully 11, between Charlie, myself and Jon, and there Charlie in particular came to his own—and to everyone’s memories—as host par excellence: playing his guitar and singing them to sleep, supervising joint baths and berry picking, telling stories, taking the anointed with him on much-cherished early morning "doughnut runs," and introducing them to the mysteries of calving and pony riding, in and from Milt the farmer’s nearby barn. Later in life, Charlie and Kristin established a new, larger home base in Hudson, overlooking the river, for his expanded family of children, grandchildren (Naomi, Oscar and Violet), and many friends.
The basis for friendship on my side—and I consider Charlie one of my two best lifelong friends—was rooted in my admiration for his three main qualities, as I saw them, together forming the fourth and for me most important: total trustworthiness.
First was Charlie’s ability to challenge himself, as illustrated by his choice to throw over an almost sure position as heir apparent at Shapiro’s for a basically new career he had to learn from the bottom up, at New Court, simply because he didn’t want to spend his life “simply making money the easy way,” as he explained to me at the time.
Then there was Charlie’s quiet, self-effacing way of not just making as much fun of his own supposed weaknesses as he did, far more gently, of others’ but also of taking significant steps to help so many of those others individually (such as reading to the blind) and institutionally, exemplified by the very considerable role he and Kristin played in their core support for the Hudson Theatre and in protecting the Hudson River and its environs through loyal championing of the Scenic Hudson enterprise. (Not to mention the lifelong support he gave to the Democrats and, especially in recent years, again with Kristin, to Barack Obama.) I guess it all really began when, with fraternity brothers Bruce Northrup and Roscoe Lewis, he helped rescue a third classmate and fraternity brother, skydiving classmate Stu Rose, from the icy Connecticut River, so many years ago.
Finally, and serving to bind his other qualities into the irresistible sum total that nurtured our friendship over time and often considerable space, there was Charlie’s total honesty and integrity. There are few people in my experience in any line of work, much less the financial industry, who radiate those rarities, and the ones that do are almost invariably successful in both their professional and personal lives. For whatever reasons, Charlie was emphatically such a person, and he expected others to be the same, if they were to be taken seriously. This guided his politics, his wise selection of Kristin as wife and, who knows, perhaps even his passionate lifelong support of the Giants.
This meant he had my total trust, and so he was my best friend. For the last few years, he and I began meeting regularly for “bachelor” dinners in the city, soon joined by Jan Beyea '61. Charlie will be missed by us, by his glittering family, the huge gathering of friends that were so well represented at his recent memorial and by the world of Amherst and well beyond that knew him. He truly illuminated all the land and people touched by his constant, gentle life.
C. Stephen Baldwin '60