Charles Benson Mathews

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

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Charles Benson Mathews, a native of Andalusia, has passed away.

Charlie was born in Andalusia and attended Andalusia High School until relocating to Lawton, Oklahoma with his parents as an “Army Brat.”  He graduated from Lawton High School in 1948, returned to Alabama, and enrolled in Alabama Polytechnic Institute, (now Auburn University).  While at Auburn, he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Social Fraternity and served as SMC (president) in 1952.  He graduated from Auburn with a degree in Industrial Management in 1952, also participating in ROTC, where he was a member of Scabbard and Blade and Arnold Air Society. Upon graduation he received an Air Force commission and entered flight training, receiving his wings in 1953. His first duty assignment was flying B-26’s with the 34th Bomb Squadron in Korea and Japan and was later stationed at Hurlburt Field flying B-57’s. He separated from the Air Force in 1956 and returned to Auburn, obtaining a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and later a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. At Auburn, he was elected into the honorary fraternities of Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, and Pi Mu Epsilon.  He was active with the Alabama Air National Guard flying RF-84F’s for almost ten years and later retiring from the Air Force Reserve at Duke Field.

His professional engineering career started at Eglin AFB in 1962 in the Air Force Armament Laboratory, (later the Armament Directorate), where he held various positions until his retirement as Technical Director of the Weapons Flight Mechanics Division in 1994.

Throughout his career he was a member and officer of many professional engineering societies and defense associations, serving as president of the Air Force Association in 1980. In 1978 he was invited to participate in the NATO Advisory Group for Aerospace Research & Development lecture series on Missile Aerodynamics presented in Ankara, Turkey; Rome, Italy; London, England; and Brussels, Belgium.  In 1982 he accepted the position of Head of Air Armaments for the NATO International Staff in Brussels and held that position until his return to Eglin AFB in 1987.  In 1994 he was selected as the Air Force Armament Directorate’s “Most Valuable Person of the Year.”

Charlie was a member of St. Simon’s on the Sound Episcopal Church and the Krewe of Bowlegs for over 60 years, serving as First Mate in 1975-76.  Charlie loved hunting, fishing, skiing, traveling, boating in Santa Rosa Sound, and especially golf, once breaking 70. Charlie was preceded in death by his parents, Lt. Col (ret) Don S. and Mary B. Mathews of Andalusia, AL.  He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Lynne Foster Mathews of Opp, AL; son, Charles B. Mathews, Jr. and wife Carla Peiffer Mathews; daughter, Mary (Cissy) Mathews Brown and husband H. French Brown, III; five grandchildren, H. French Brown, IV and wife Meghan Reilly Brown, Lynne  Mathews Zabelski and husband Jason Zabelski, Maile Mathews Propst and husband Nelson H. Propst, Celeste Brooks Brown and Steven A. Ryan, and Bailee Hudson Mathews; three great-grandchildren, Ann Reilly Brown, Henry French Brown, V and Gia Brooks Ryan.

A celebration of life and reception will be held at the home of Cissy and French Brown at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15. Interment will follow at a later date. Emerald Coast Funeral Home of Fort Walton Beach, Florida is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, a request is made for contributions to the Emerald Coast Auburn Club, Bill and Gayle Creamer Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 4236, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32549, and/or, the Andalusia High School Class of 1948 Memorial Scholarship Fund, 701 Third Street, Andalusia, AL 36420.