Charles George Fick III, known as Chuck to friends and family, passed away peacefully at his Georgetown, Texas home on September 1st, 2022. He was cared for by his wife, Roberta (Perey) Fick during his 3 month battle with metastatic melanoma with the help of their children and neighbors.
Born August 15, 1954 to Nancy Christine (Endy) and the late Charles G Fick Jr in Reading, PA, he was active in Cub Scouts and Tuckerton Scout Troop 155; camping, going to Philmont Scout Ranch and earning his Eagle Scout rank.
A 1972 graduate of Muhlenberg High School, Chuck attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he was a member of Theta Delta Chi. He met his future wife, Roberta (Bobbi to friends), in 1975 and persuaded her to help his team with their engineering lab reports, and eventually, to switch her engineering major to match his. He graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering in 1976.
Chuck started his career in Defiance, Ohio. He was a metallurgist at the Central Foundry Division of General Motors, which later became the Powertrain Division. Chuck and Bobbi married at the end of 1977 at First Baptist Church in Reading, PA, and she also started working at Central Foundry. In 1981, Chuck was promoted and moved to Saginaw, Michigan.
While in Saginaw, Chuck started working on research in advanced casting development. He then led the foundation of the Advanced Materials Development Center (AMDC). At the AMDC, his team researched and found new ways of using advanced materials and flexible manufacturing innovations. An Engineering Group Manager, Chuck became an expert in Lean Manufacturing. In 1999 he moved on to GM Powertrain headquarters and worked in the engineering labs and pre-production operations. He spent the remainder of his career developing improvements in workplace organization and workflow in non-manufacturing areas. After 39 years, he retired from General Motors in 2015.
In 2020, after nearly 20 years in Clarkston, MI, Chuck and Bobbi moved to Sun City in Georgetown, Texas. He said he was just sick of having to shovel the driveway every winter but really he was looking forward to “warm” winters and being able to enjoy more outdoor activities with Bobbi. They celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary with family on November 25th, 2021.
Chuck was immensely proud of his four children David A. (Hutto, TX), Thomas J. (New Brighton, MN), Cheryl A. (Pflugerville, TX), and Catherine E. (Pflugerville, TX); all of whom became engineers; a fact that pleased him greatly. And he was elated to welcome more daughters, Laura Freyman (wife of Dave) and Jill Humble (wife of Tom) to the family. Chuck adored his grandchildren, Julian A. and Walter L. Fick (Dave’s sons) and regretted not meeting Avery G. Fick (Tom’s son) in person but loved seeing every picture and video. He had a “magic” knack for having children nap in his arms. There was seldom a moment that his grandsons were around in which he wasn’t holding one or playing games with them. He had a gift for being silly and passed on many games from his children’s youth to their children. Chuck would always do his best to join in when Julian would ask (demand) that Grandad play with him, often sitting down nearby to read a book together.
As an Eagle Scout himself, Chuck was thrilled to see Dave and Tom both become Eagle Scouts and helped them along the way, even when that meant driving an hour each way to keep up with their old troop after the move, and he went on many camping trips. He often reminisced about some of the more memorable trips, such as camping in the freezing snow, his complaints about the conditions marked with a bit of cheer. Chuck delighted in stories of his trials and tribulations, so long as they ended in triumph.
His favorite was the story of how he went to see the UM-PSU game at Michigan Stadium with his sons the day after having major hand surgery for cancer. He would describe how he stood the whole three hours (minus halftime) and walked the many flights of stairs back up to the stadium entrance while nearby staff looked on nervously. His wife and youngest daughter would usually point out that Bobbi picked them up at the stadium in their car and that afterwards he slept for three days straight, nevertheless Chuck remained proud of the adventure. Chuck’s stories tended towards the hyperbolic and could sometimes be redundant, but the zeal with which he told them was always entertaining. If he saw a deer with a particularly large set of antlers or several hawks (or better yet, turkeys) nearby, you would be sure to hear about it for weeks.
Chuck loved sports, especially watching the Philadelphia Eagles, the Phillies, and the Flyers on TV. He was a big Penn State football fan until three of his kids went to University of Michigan, and he gradually changed allegiance to the Wolverines. Many early friendships in Saginaw came about from playing softball and racquetball. He dragged his family to Phillies games in the middle of heat waves in July when they traveled back to Pennsylvania. His enthusiastic yelling and cheering at games on TV will be missed. A self-declared “‘lean', mean, Pickleball playing machine”, Chuck remained active until near the end of his life. His dedication to playing pickleball was so great that when his daughters placed his paddle in his hand the day before he passed, Chuck raised the paddle a foot in the air. He gave other players (often much more skilled, according to him) a run for their money on the court. He reveled in stories about his prowess at pickleball, how he would astound others with his abilities to do difficult shots. “They never expect that, especially from me!” he would crow. Chuck enjoyed surprising people with his natural athleticism, whether it was his surprisingly strong grip strength (even after losing a finger), his naturally low heart rate, or general level of fitness.
Chuck was interested in other cultures, and as part of his work he traveled to Europe, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, and other countries. He planned to travel extensively once Bobbi retired. In addition to other cultures and travel, Chuck was intensely interested in current events and could be very opinionated. He loved watching 60 Minutes, Tim Russert, Charles Krauthammer, and other evening news programs and competing channels, particularly with his “bud” Edward, the family cat. After Ed relocated to Cat’s apartment in TX, Chuck would lament that Ed was missing their screen time together. He read and listened to biographies and memoirs of historic events. He loved to explore history and national parks, old historic sites such as the Hopewell Furnace in PA, New Bedford, MA weaving mills and CCC sites such as the MN Forest History Center. When Chuck and Bobbi went to a museum, they would read every bit of information posted, absolutely boring their kids to death. He loved Tom Clancy novels for their detailed political and military information.
At home, Chuck built large decks at his homes in Defiance, Saginaw Township, and Clarkston. He created landscaping beds, which he loved to see filled with lots of flowers. Chuck loved to watch wildlife, deer, and birds - woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and especially, the large birds such as hawks, cranes and turkeys. He was not so fond of the vultures down in Texas. Chuck very much embodied the DIY attitude and there wasn’t much he wasn’t willing to do (or volunteer his wife and children) for home projects. When not enjoying nature or working on projects, he loved to trounce his kids in Parcheesi, Bocce, and other games; his skill in Parcheesi being so good that it was described as “Chuck Luck”. His jovial, but also very serious, competitiveness was a trait he shared with his kids and despite his melodramatic complaints, he did enjoy it when they won.
In addition to his wife and four children, he is survived by his mother and four younger siblings: Michael D Fick (Lake Katrine, NY) and his wife Susan; Stephen A Fick (Fleetwood, PA) and his wife Susan; Susan E Daniels (Reading, PA) and her husband Ricky; and Kathleen A Updegrove (Oley, PA) and her husband Jeffrey.
Chuck was an incredibly loyal and hardworking man who deeply loved his wife and family. His presence will be sorely missed at every gathering and Michigan football game, but there is no doubt that his spirit and sense of humor lives on through them.
A celebration of life will be held 11:30 AM October 22 at Bednar Funeral Home, 2910 Pricetown Road, Temple, PA. The family will receive friends and relatives at 10:00 AM.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Chuck's memory to:
Sea Turtle, Inc. (a turtle rescue), 6617 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island, TX 78597
Phone: (956) 761-4511
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas 78739
Phone: (512) 232-0138
Focus Hope, 1400 Oakman Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48238
(Chuck worked with Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis in the 90’s)