May 8, 1941 - January 23, 2022
“Charles was the most decent, understanding, kind person I will ever know.” This was the first comment we received when Charles passed away after a brief stay in the hospital of Corvallis, Oregon, where he moved in 1970. Though his health was declining, no one guessed he would leave us so soon.
Charles was raised in Manhattan, Kansas, the only son of Roy and Virginia Langford. Despite a certain amount of painful bullying in school, Charles was a successful student. He belonged to Boy Scouts, becoming an Eagle Scout at the age of 13. He also was active in 4-H and FFA. He played viola in the school orchestra under Mr. Norvell.
He learned about horses when his father gave him a young horse at age 10. For several summers he worked on the “Burtis Ranch”, (now the Konza Prairie). Later he worked as the horse wrangler at Rock Springs Ranch 4-H camp for 5 summers.
He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Sociology from Kansas State University. He went to the University of Oregon to earn his PhD with Dr. Ben Johnson. He joined the faculty of Oregon State in 1970 and he won a teaching award soon thereafter. He taught classes in sociology of religion, demography, international development, and rural sociology, among others. He served on various committees and was a member of the faculty senate.
Charles was known for his kind help to students who were struggling, and to foreign students trying to navigate the intricacies of academic bureaucracy. He had an open-door policy availing himself to students and colleagues. His office was crammed with books, journals, and student papers. He is remembered for his warm smile and careful listening.
Charles enjoyed telling stories, often about the horses or his extensive travels, but far beyond that, he had a deep commitment to being kind to people. As a sociologist, he believed that all people thrive better when everyone is doing well. This belief shaped his interactions and his work for social justice. He was generous to a fault, even borrowing money to lend to someone else. He was constantly making effort to help people who were having a hard time.
Aside from his own personal actions, Charles influenced a generation of students, and perhaps some colleagues, to think about the world and their responsibilities as citizens in it. “His observations of the poor taught me to see the world in a more compassionate way.” When asked for advice for living he responded, “The most important goal is to strive to be kind to each other.”
Charles loved to travel whether it was around the world or in the countryside. In 1975 he joined the faculty of World Campus Afloat for a semester where they traveled around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Later he went to Asia—Turkey, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh. He particularly loved India. He returned to India many times to do research on agricultural villages. In his travels, he wanted most of all to know the ordinary people in their real lives. He was a keen observer of individuals, cultures, and landscapes.
He also appreciated beauty. He always put his desk where he could see the view out the window. He was passionate about the Oregon coast and he noticed the scenery where ever he went. He loved classical music, particularly the Romantics, and had an extensive record collection. He also liked architecture and had a wonderful time detailing his beloved little house. And he loved good food.
Charles nearly always had a dog; his favorite was his Bassett, “Chocolate”. His frequent walks with her lead to many friendly conversations with the neighbors.
Charles had his difficulties, of course, and over time his health began to fail. In his later years he was was befriended by several people who helped him stay in his house and live the life he wanted. We are indebted to those dedicated friends for their generous help to Charles.
Charles is survived by his sister Jean Langford Andrews (Frank Andrews), 2 nieces, Karen Andrews and Elizabeth Andrews (Chris Lay), and 2 grandnieces, all of Santa Cruz, California.