Deceased August 8, 2020

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In Memory

Charlie Chotkowski died on Aug. 8, 2020, after a life of many interests, contact with classmates, postings on the listserv and The New York Times—and railroading. 

Charlie’s passions, as his freshman roommate Bert Rein ’61 noted, were his dedication to his Catholic upbringing and his Polish heritage. Stan Masters ’61, who roomed with Charlie at Chi Phi and stayed connected with him through the years, said Charlie dropped out of a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota and took a job as railway station manager in a remote area, later moving to a position with the Soo Line in Minneapolis. He retired in the mid-’90s, returning home to Fairfield, Conn., to care for his mother. 

He saw the film Shoah (Hebrew for “Holocaust”), which he said presented a negative opinion of Poles. He devoted himself to the subject, becoming a member of the executive committee of the National Polish American–Jewish American Council. He was a member of Fairfield’s Holocaust Commemoration Committee. In 2002 he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland at the Polish consulate. 

Charlie pursued his passion for railroading, traveling throughout North America and abroad, including on the Orient Express and the Trans-Siberian Railway. When asked the scale of railroads he liked best, he always answered, “12 inches to the foot.”

“He was a lovely, gentle person,” said Stan—and, in Valentine, “a calm, good-humored and steady worker.” Stan last visited him in 2014 when Charlie invited him to meet his girlfriend, Christi. She observed in an obituary that “for the last eight and a half years of his life, it was the first time he felt truly loved and could just relax. He left no family but will be missed by his loving friends.”

Stan Masters ’61, Dick Klein ’61 and Paul Bracciotti ’61