Deceased April 21, 2019
Charles “Chuck” Tatum Jr., died April 21, of brain cancer. He lived with his wife, Mary, in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
Chuck grew up in Radnor, Pa., and went to Westtown School. He graduated from Amherst with honors in chemistry and earned his Ph.D. from Penn State University. After teaching at Middlebury, Chuck joined Rohm & Haas, in Philadelphia, as a senior scientist. He retired after serving as senior vice president and chief technology officer.
Besides Mary, survivors include two daughters from his first marriage, Rebecca ’95 and Carrie. His marriage to Gail Danckert ended in divorce.
At Amherst, Chuck played freshman soccer, sang in the Glee Club and was a member of Phi Delt. Chuck was fun to be around, smart, modest, funny, kind. Raised as a Quaker, he became a conscientious objector after graduation, postponing graduate study to work at a Denver hospital in lieu of military service.
Chuck never stopped learning, said Rebecca. He was also “the kind of teacher and father who believed in me and my sister.” Rebecca was 6 when they moved to Pennsylvania from Vermont. They caravanned, her mom and younger sister in the family car, Chuck and Rebecca in a U-Haul truck. The truck had no rear-view mirror; Rebecca “rode shotgun” by the window, scouting traffic.
“My dad had to rely on 6-year-old me to know whether it was safe to change lanes as we headed down 91, to 95, through New York City, and then the Jersey Turnpike,” she recalled. “I love the image and memory of him trusting me (whether that was a good idea or not!) to give him credible information about whether he could merge, and I love the idea that I was his buddy for that drive. It was a perfect experience for a dad to give his young daughter.”
Don Colburn ’69