In Memoriam: Charles Innis


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death February 22, 2005 of Charles Shields Innis, Jr. of Hatchville at the New England Medical Center in Boston. He was 76.

Charles Shields Innis, Jr. was born December 20, 1928 in Milford, MA, and was graduated from Milford High School in 1946. He joined the Draper Corporation in 1947 as an assembler of small loom parts and soon was chosen one of the first six men to attend the Draper Apprentice School, a three-year program reactivated after World War II. He studied drafting and tool design, and upon completion of the program in 1950 was assigned to the Planning Department as a detail draftsman working on the redesign of new machinery. With the outbreak of the Korean War, Charlie enlisted in the U.S. Navy and after basic training in Newport, RI, was sent to Washington, DC as a draftsman seaman assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations, Office of Naval Intelligence, Port and Naval Facilities at the Pentagon. He advanced through the ranks as a cartographic draftsman and was discharged in 1955 after five years of service as a Draftsman Petty Officer First Class.

Returning to Massachusetts, Charlie Innis put his drafting talent to work. He joined the Institution staff in December 1955 as a research assistant and draftsman/technician working for the geophysics group under J. Brackett Hersey. He made a number of cruises on WHOI vessels and several naval ships, including two six-week voyages on submarines and destroyers. He was promoted to drafting supervisor in 1960, and two years later organized drafting, photography, reproduction, and illustration services into the Graphic Arts group, which later became Graphic Services. During this time he completed courses in electronic fundamentals and was graduated from the RCA institute.

Ten years later, in 1972, then Director Paul Fye asked Charlie Innis to join the senior administration as Executive Assistant to the Director, succeeding George Cadwalader. He served with Paul Fye and then John Steele, who was named Director in 1977, and took on additional responsibilities as Security Officer in 1983. He served in both capacities until he retired in 1988, continuing to work part-time until 1990. He returned as a volunteer, working until recently in the Data Library and Archives identifying photographs and sharing his knowledge of the Institution. Charlie and his wife Margaret also attended many Associate and retiree events.

During his WHOI career Charlie Innis played a major role in a number of historic events, including the search for the lost U.S. Navy submarines Thresher and Scorpion, the 1975 visit of Emperor Hirohito of Japan, coordinating the Institution's 50th anniversary activities in 1980, and participating as security officer in the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic in 1985.

Among his many duties as Executive Assistant to the Director were planning and coordinating Trustee and Corporation meetings, the annual Office of Naval Research omnibus proposal and site review, arranging Bigelow Medal and employee service recognition ceremonies, and coordinating major meetings, conferences and visits to the Institution by outside groups. He worked closely with Institution committees, and served as a liaison with town and community groups.

"When I came to Woods Hole as Director, Charlie's varied background and long experience in the Institution were a great asset," John Steele said. "He had a wealth of informal knowledge as well as 'official' information about what went on in WHOI and also in the local community. All of us who worked with him valued his deep sense of loyalty to the Oceanographic."

Charlie Innis was active in a number of town and civic organizations, serving as a town meeting member for 22 years and as a member of the Finance Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals. He was president and director of the precinct 4 and precinct 5 organizations, and served as president and director of the Hatchville Associates. He was chair of the committee that raised the necessary funds to place a statue of Katherine Lee Bates on the Falmouth Library grounds. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Surving are his wife, Margaret (Bozzini) Innis of East Falmouth, MA; three daughters, Theresa Innis-Scimone of California and Charlotte Nolan and Margaret Laughead of Falmouth, MA; seven grandchildren; a brother, Paul F. Innis of Wareham, MA; and a sister, Margaret McGowan, of Wareham, MA.

Visiting hours will be held Sunday, February 27, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Chapman Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, 584 West Falmouth Highway (Route 28A) in West Falmouth. A funeral mass will take place Monday, February 28, at 10 a.m. at Saint Elizabeth Seton Church on Quaker Road in North Falmouth, with burial to follow at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Falmouth Hospital Foundation, 100 Ter Heun Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540.


Media Relations Office

(508) 289-3340

Charles Innis

(Photo by Terri Corbett)