Colonel Charles A Larson
Patriot and Beloved Husband, Father, and Grandfather
November 9, 1940 – March 8, 2023
Charles A Larson was born November 9, 1940, in Santa Anna, California to Ralph Larson, MD, and his wife Bernardette. In early childhood, his family settled in Anoka, Minnesota where he grew up playing, hunting, and fishing on the banks of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers and in the beautiful Minnesota countryside. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a pilot and spent hours in the library digging through shelves, reading everything available on airplanes and aviation. An excellent student, he also loved playing sports and competed in football, wrestling, hockey, track, and golf while attending Anoka High School.
Eager to serve his country and fulfill his dream of flying, he accepted an appointment to The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and graduated with the Class of 1962. He attended pilot training at Laredo Air Force Base in Laredo, Texas and graduated at the top of his training class, winning The Commander’s Trophy. He was chosen to become an Air Force Instructor Pilot and during the years he spent in Texas training young men to fly, he met and married his beloved wife Charlotte Montgomery Compton of Laredo, Texas. Soon thereafter, he transitioned to flying his choice of airplane, the F4 Phantom Fighter, and was selected to attend the prestigious “Fighter Weapons School” at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. In his spare time, Chuck acquired a Master’s Degree in System’s Management (Aeronautics) from The University of Southern California.
Chuck served two tours in Southeast Asia and rose through the Officer ranks in the US Air Force inspiring and leading other Airmen, teaching new generations of Air Force Aviators, and protecting The United States of America. His service medals include the Legion of Merit, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, and various other awards. He did not often speak about his distinctions, but if asked he would tell you the Silver Star he earned for valor and gallantry in action, while protecting his fellow countrymen, was the most personally significant to him.
He was grateful he was able to continue flying throughout the entirety of his 27-year military career and retired as a Full Colonel in 1992. His family loved traveling with him during his military service and felt blessed to live in various locations in the United States and in Europe. Chuck and his family made wonderful friends and memories wherever they landed. A particularly happy time in family life was a three-year assignment in Germany, where weekends included exploring Europe, skiing the steepest alpine slopes, hiking the Black Forest, and enjoying every possible village market, festival, and Biergarten.
The aviation, leadership, and teaching skills Chuck developed during his Air Force career, transitioned easily to the civilian world. Upon retirement from the Air Force, he began a second career as an Instructor Pilot for The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. During his sixteen-year career with Boeing, he trained pilots from all over the world to operate a wide variety of Boeing aircraft. As an Instructor Pilot, he traveled and flew extensively across five continents and was often able to include Charlotte on his journeys. Together they explored the world and enjoyed a host of diverse cultures, peoples, and geographies. Aviation was Chuck’s life-long passion, and he was proud that every single military and civilian pilot he ever trained landed safely.
After retiring from Boeing, Chuck spent his final years serving his church, his community, and his family. He served as a Council Member at Mt. Cross Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington, led his neighborhood HOA, and was instrumental in planning a park and play-area for his community. He proudly attended every possible football game, theatre performance, and tennis match for each of his three grandchildren. He could often be found golfing with friends and pheasant hunting with his trusty “Grand-Dog”, Leia. In 2018, he and Charlotte moved from the Pacific Northwest to Charlotte, North Carolina to be closer to family and his youngest grandchildren.
On March 8, 2023, Chuck passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his wife and constant companion of 56 years, Charlotte Compton Larson, and his adoring daughters, Melissa Larson Stoltenberg and Leslie Larson Martin (Matthew). He is revered and beloved by his 3 grateful grandchildren, Blake Stoltenberg and Grant and Delaney Martin. He will be missed by his faithful yellow-lab, Maggie, who will forever fetch the morning paper in his honor. His patience, kindness, generosity, character, sense of humor, and faith, blessed his family and helped make him the best of husbands, fathers, and grandfathers.
This summer, Chuck will be interred on the grounds of The United States Air Force Academy with full military honors. Locally, a celebration of his life will be held Saturday, March 25, 2023, at 10:00 AM at:
Christ Lutheran Church
4519 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC 28226.
The service will be live streamed at:
The family would be grateful for any donations made in Chuck’s honor to be directed to:
Veteran’s Bridge Home or Lutheran World Relief
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