By The Mercury

Charles Helstrom Hostetler, “Charlie,” community business, political and civic leader, died Dec. 8 in Manhattan at the age of 75 after a courageous battle with cancer. A fourth generation Kansan, Charlie was born in Manhattan on April 25, 1938 to Alvin and Ruth (Helstrom) Hostetler. A lifelong resident of Manhattan, he graduated from Manhattan High School in 1956, and Kansas State University in 1960, where he lettered in varsity golf and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.

The family provided some of the following information.

Upon graduation from KSU, Charlie entered the University Of Kansas Law School where he served on the Kansas Law Review and as a member of the Law School Board of Governors. Recently, Charlie was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed by the KU Law School.

Charlie’s most memorable state and national achievements include being appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents in 1989 for a four year term. He served as a delegate to the National Republican Convention in Kansas City in 1976 and as a Kansas member of the U.S. Electoral College in the presidential election of 2000. From 1977 to 1978, he was president of the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents. In addition, he was a member of the Kansas Business Hall of Fame Board of Directors from 2004 to 2013.

Following decades of service to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Kansas State University, Charlie received the SAE Phoenix Award in 2007, the Order of Minerva Award in 2010 and the KSU Greek Letter Lifetime Alumni Award in 2010. Initiated on March 9, 1957, with his father, Alvin, by his side, Charlie was recognized as a 50 year member of Kansas Beta in 2007. Many of his fraternity brothers credit him with maintaining and reviving the chapter from 1990 to 2007 while serving as president of the House Corporation.

A renowned storyteller, he was also a lifelong champion of hard work, starting as a young boy sweeping floors at a drug store in Aggieville, progressing to work as a newspaper stringer covering sports for the Manhattan Mercury. After law school, he joined the Charlson-Wilson Insurance Agency. He purchased the agency from Barbara and J. Robert Wilson and celebrated 50 years with the agency this past fall.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Alvin, Charlie was the chairman of First National Bank for many years and continued to serve on the bank board until the bank was sold to Landmark National Bank in 2005.

Charlie was an enthusiastic member and supporter of the business community. He served as president of the Board of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce in 1981, president of the Manhattan Rotary Club in 1975 and chairman of the Manhattan United Way in 1972.

His commitment and affection for both Kansas State University and the University of Kansas led him to participate in both institutions. He was a trustee of the Kansas State University Foundation from 1978 to 1996. He was national chairman of the Kansas State University Foundation Presidents Club from 1988 to 1989. He has also been a member of the University of Kansas Chancellors Club for many years.

Charlie will be inducted posthumously into Manhattan High School Wall of Fame in February of 2014.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Alvin A. and Ruth W. (Helstrom) Hostetler; his paternal grandparents, Alvin E. and Anna Letitia (Dunn) Hostetler; and his maternal grandparents Charles and Frances (Riddell) Helstrom.

He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. Charlie is survived by his wife, Julie; daughters, Cynthia Hostetler and husband, Nicholas Ulanov, of Washington, D.C., Sue Hostetler of New York City; step-son, Michael Widman and wife, Audrey, of Manhattan; step-daughter, Karen Root and husband, Brad, of Albuquerque, N.M.; three grandchildren, Spencer Diamond, Ava Widman, and Evan Widman; sister, Sue Sherwood and husband, Orm of Mercer Island, Wash.; first cousin, Polly Pratt Collins and husband, Jack, of Topeka; mother-in-law, Margery Richardson of Manhattan; and his first wife, Patricia Conderman of Manhattan.

There will be a service to celebrate Charles Hostetler’s life on Jan. 12, 2014 at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church. A memorial fund for the First United Methodist Church Pre-School has been established in his name. Contributions may be sent to the church or Irvin-Parkview Funeral Home. Contributions may also be made to the Kansas Beta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and sent to Irvin-Parkview Funeral Home.

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