Thursday, June 24, 2010


Welcome to this memorial message board for Chuck Stearns.

This is a place where you can express your sorrow, condolences or special memories for all that Chuck has meant to you.

To post a message, click on "xx comments" below, and/or scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Post a Comment".


  1. I was fortunate enough to go down to the ice twice (1992 and 1996) to help with the initial setup of AMRC. Chuck was always very appreciative of the work we did. Whatever we could do for him, he thanked us for.

    I had great experiences down there. But the best thing I got in the end was the US Antarctic Service Medal that he acquired for me. It proudly hangs on a wall in my house. I'll always think of him when I walk past it.

    Thanks for everything Chuck.

    John Pyeatt

  2. Chuck was an icon of Antarctic science. A real gentleman in his own distinct way, and a great colleague and friend. He'll be very deeply missed.

    I'm deeply grateful I had the chance to know and work with an amazing person like Chuck.

    Susan Solomon

  3. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Chuck many times in the Antarctic and was always impressed by his energy, his enthusiasm, and his unique ability to integrate the experiences of his generation with the younger scientists surrounding him. It was clear that what he learned as a combat soldier in the Pacific stayed with him throughout his career - his ability to take on hard tasks right through to the end and his intuitive thinking. The scientific community has lost a great champion of Antarctic science, but we have a great legacy to follow.

    Paul Andrew Mayewski

  4. Over the years I had the pleasure of working with Chuck many times in Antarctica. I never had any concern about his field team working in remote locations. He trained them well! Chuck was never bothered by chances in schedules, weather delays, flight schedule changes due to higher just was something to deal with and he understood that.

    We will all miss him greatly but he leaves an outstanding legacy, the system of AWS now copied by many other nations, the modeling,and the large number of students who will carry on his work.

    Thanks Chuck!

    Dave Bresnahan

  5. The Antarctic science community has lost one of its pioneers. Many of us worked in Antarctica before the days of the Automatic Weather Station (AWS). The AWS network of stations that Chuck Stearns had the foresight to establish has made working in Antarctica much safer and has also lead to our ability to learn about a site in advance of actually spending a field season there.

    As I told Matt there are many of us who remember the WAIS meeting where Chuck first showed the satellite loop of weather systems spiraling into the Antarctic continent. That was a real eye opener and gave many of us our first glimpse of what the storm systems really looked like around Antarctica. I feel honored to have known such a great Antarctic scientist and such a nice person as well.

    Julie Palais
    Antarctic Glaciology Program
    National Science Foundation

  6. Message from Takao Kameda:
    I met Chuck at two times in Wisconsin. The first time was in 1994 and the last time was in 2008. With the aid of Chuck, George, Matthew, Linda and other members of the AMRC, our Japanese group have installed four AWS units on the Antarctic ice sheet since 1995. I cannot forget a party held in Chuck’s farm in June 2008 during the 3rd AMOMFW meeting.
    Thanks for everything Chuck.

    Takao Kameda
    Dr. Takao Kameda
    Snow and Ice Research Laboratory
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Kitami Institute of Technology
    165, Koencho, Kitami, Hokkaido 090-8507

  7. The most important thing Dr Chuck Stearns taught me was to look at observations with a skeptical eye. He afforded me an opprotunity to perform synoptic meteorology research in a data sparse environment. The Antarctic Meteorology Research Center will always be a testament to Dr. Stearns passion for the weather on that continent.

    Rest well Chuck, you earned it.

    Bruce Sinkula

  8. As a graduate student in the late 1970s, I was privileged to have Chuck as my instructor for two courses in air pollution and meteorological instruments. His great sense of humor and down-to-earth manner really connected with me and so many of my UW meteorology classmates. He will be missed greatly. God truly blessed us with Chuck! Bart Adrian Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  9. Message from John Young:

    Chuck Stearns: A Remarkable Life

    Chuck's passing is one of a unique individual whose life and career in our Department of Meteorology (now AOS) spanned the decades of its growth and achievements. He was a WWII soldier, then an undergrad student, then a farmer, then a researcher with the internationally-known Prof. Heinz Lettau, a grad student, and finally a faculty member starting around age 40! Hard to top that marvelous story, but he did so with his follow-up development of the Antarctic program around the age of 60.

    He spun his web of life adventures around our university in a most memorable way. His emphasis of observations as a foundation of our science had roots in our department's early days, and continues with great meaning in our new millennium.

    John Young
    Fellow AOS Faculty Member for our entire careers

  10. Anecdotal memory

    Sometimes blunt, Chuck was often a source of down-to-earth wisdom. When I was selected as the new director of the Space Science and Engineering Center in late 1999, Chuck told me that “They made me platoon leader because all of the good guys were dead!”. Coming from my friend and colleague, Chuck, I took this as a blend of encouragement and a vote of confidence, since I knew he had been a successful platoon leader and was still alive.

    Hank Revercomb, UW-SSEC

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  12. Message from Bob Ragotzkie:

    Chuck and I were graduate students together in 1950-53. Along with Pete Kuhn we were the first graduate students in the two professor department of Reid Bryson and Verner Suomi. Chuck helped me put lights on an array of buoys in University Bay in support of a field test of my dynamic model of Daphnia distribution in Lake Mendota. Later Chuck helped Reid and I with internal wave measurements in lake Mendota. After Heinz Lettau joined the department in the late 50’s Chuck designed and built the Second Point micrometeorological station in Lake Mendota. The data from this station was the basis for an immense amount of boundary layer work by Lettau and his students, including the famous Christmas tree experiment.

    When I returned to the department in 1959, Suomi was working on net radiation measurements, first in a corn field and then from aircraft. Chuck was doing much of the instrument development work in the 4th floor lab on Science Hall. Based on this work Suomi conceived the idea for the measurement of net radiation from a satellite. However it was Chuck Stearns, who did much of the hardware development that ultimately ended up on TIROS, the first meteorological satellite.

    Chuck’s Antarctic work is well known and continued right up to his death. The hallmark of this work and everything else he did was his unselfishness and willingness to help others. Yet he never sought fame or recognition for his accomplishments.

    Chuck and I shared a special memory from World War II. In early August 1945 the 96th Division in which Chuck served throughout the Pacific war had returned from the battle of Okinawa and was recovering on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The 90th Bomb Group in which I served was at the same base. On August 6 the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. On August 10 Japan sued for peace and the war was over. This meant that the 96th Division did not have to play a lead role in the invasion of Japan and the 90th Bomb Group did not have to fly cover for the invasion. Even though we did not know each other then we later talked about the wild celebration that night.

    Chuck was a great friend, and the University and the world is a better place for the life he lived.

    Bob Ragotzkie

  13. I first met Chuck in the early 1980s when I was involved in developing a network of Australian AWS in Antarctica. He was very supportive of our efforts, which complemented his own in a different part of the continent, and gave us much encouragement. But he always thought his own network was better (he was undoubtedly right).

    I met Chuck several times in the subsequent decades, and corresponded with him regularly. You always knew exactly where you stood with Chuck – he was honest and forthright. But he was above all a dedicated and honest scientist who retained his interest in science to the end.

    Vale Chuck, and thanks for all the great encouragement along the way.

    Ian Allison

  14. I was furtunated to meet Prof Stearns when I was a GRA at OSU/BPRC. I used the AWS data a lot and that helped me with my thesis and dissertation. Thank Chuck, your work memory will stay forever in the inner core of antarctic science. Adios Chuck.

    Jorge Carrasco

  15. Charlie. (I didn't notice everyone else always called him Chuck. Charlie he is to me.) I suppose I met him in '85 or '86, when I was worker bee at the Berg Field Center, but my Charlie stories and smiles start in 1988-89 when my friend Lou Czarniecki (now Albershardt)and I took him (and George) out in the hovercraft Maxine to what would become the Pegasus blue-ice runway. Lou and I got to see what it takes to set up an AWS in
    less-than-perfect weather. We also just simply had fun. I am no colleague, but I certainly enjoyed working with him. Charlie (and his entire group) always sensed my curiosity and interest and took the time to tell me stories of deep field or ship ops, bothering to share their lives with me. Charlie's teasing was easy to take. And I like how my mind's eye can see him laughing, hooting at all the malarkey that comes our way. Thanks, Charlie. Maybe I'll see you further on down the road.

  16. Dr, Stearns taught oceanography when I was at the UW. I recall his easy going style as he taught class, He was one of my favorite instructors.

  17. Dan Schultz/Texas Commission on Env. QualityJanuary 7, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    Dr. Stearns taught the Solar Power and Wind Energy class back in the late 70s when I was an undergraduate student. One day I stopped by during office hours to get an example test so I could better prepare for an upcoming exam. He brought one out and then disappeared into his office. After waiting for awhile I decided to go because I had to get to my next class. He never forgot about it either; the next time I asked for an example test he said "Don't take off with it like you did last time!"

    Thanks Chuck