Obituary: Charles Wesley Rook Jr., 1938-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Charles Wesley Rook Jr., 1938-2022

Navy veteran and engineer was a Renaissance man who loved long-distance cycling, crossword puzzles and Vermont

Published October 15, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated October 15, 2022 at 11:06 a.m.

Charles Wesley Rook Jr. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Charles Wesley Rook Jr.

We celebrate the remarkable life of Charles Wesley Rook Jr., who died on January 19, 2022, of heart failure at his Tucson winter home, with his loving family by his side.

Born August 30, 1938, in Denver, Colo., Charley was raised In Nebraska and chose to come east to join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's class of 1960. During eight terms on the dean's list, he served on the East Campus House Committee and Senior House Committee and chaired the Judicial Dormitory Council. He received the prestigious Beaver Key; was awarded membership in the Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi honor societies; participated in "T" Club, the Tech, WTBS radio, crew, track, swimming and NROTC; and courted Jean Barclay, his future wife. Active in the Outing Club, mountain hiking, spelunking, rock climbing and skiing, he also played rugby and drank beer with the MIT, Boston and Washington, D.C., clubs.

Charles Wesley Rook Jr. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Charles Wesley Rook Jr.

Upon graduating MIT with BS, MS and doctor of science degrees in electrical engineering, Charley was commissioned into the U.S. Navy. Assigned to the Bureau of Ships and the Naval Electronic Systems Command in Washington, D.C., he did research and managed projects before serving for nine years in the U.S. Naval Reserves. After Navy duty, he joined the staff at MIT's Lincoln Lab in 1966, contributing to advanced research projects for 35 years.

He was honest, even-tempered, fair, kind and reserved, with a dry humor — a Renaissance man. Charley loved opera, London theater, cycling, playing rugby, learning languages and quoting Shakespeare. Addicted to the daily New York Times crossword puzzle, he scored 2,781/97.4% of puzzles solved, with his longest streak of 655 interrupted by travels to seven continents.

Another deep interest was classical music. He enjoyed singing bass with the Concord Chorus in Massachusetts and several community choruses. A great delight was singing at Carnegie Hall's Centennial Celebration. He framed his backstage pass. Every week, he listened to NPR's "Joyful Noise" choral music and "Says You," and watched "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy."

Running was part of his daily routine. He finished the Boston Marathon and ran many weekend races. Long-distance cycling became his passion, which led to cycling vacations in Europe, Canada and the U.S. In his later years, he rose to the challenges of New England century rides.

After living in Chelmsford, Mass., for 34 years and restoring a 200-year-old house, he and his wife retired to Burlington, Vt. Their home overlooking Lake Champlain became "base camp" for two decades of travel. Upon learning that non-native Vermonters were called "flatlanders," Charley said he'd have to dig down 4,800 feet from where he was born in the mile-high mountains of Colorado in order to get to Vermont! He loved Vermont.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jean (Barclay) Rook; his daughters, Rebecca Rook (Douglas Smith) of California and Jennifer Atkins (David Atkins) of Massachusetts; his grandchildren, Shay, Jason and Marshall Atkins; and his sisters, Barbara Clausen and Martha Rook of Oregon.

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