Charlie Innis loved WHOI and he loved being in the middle of things—his fondest memories of serving for many years as executive assistant to the WHOI director included coordinating the visit of the Emperor of Japan in 1975 and the Institution’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1980.
Charlie grew up in Milford, MA, then studied drafting and tool design while employed at the nearby Draper Corporation, which produced looms for the textile industry. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, thinking he’d like to go to sea, Charlie enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served five years as a Draftsman Petty Officer First Class—all in Washington, D.C. Following discharge, he joined WHOI and later said, “I came to stay.”
Charlie spent four years in Brackett Hersey’s geophysics group, where he got his chance to go to sea—six months at a stretch. His next assignment was to create an Institution graphics department, a group he headed until 1972, when Director Paul Fye named him his executive assistant. Charlie also served in this position through John Steele’s directorship, taking on additional responsibilities as security officer in 1983. He served in both capacities until he retired in 1988, continuing his security work part-time for another two years and becoming a WHOI volunteer after that.
Charlie was a drummer and a loyal member of the Woods Hole Chowder and Marching Society, a changeable group that often assembled to welcome WHOI ships home from cruises. He also participated enthusiastically in town and neighborhood activities, including terms as precinct and Hatchville Associates president and director, on the Falmouth Finance Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals, and 22 years as a town meeting member. Charlie passed away just last month.
Originally published: March 1, 2005