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Chuck Murdoch, 90
Chuck Murdoch, 90

LIVES LIVED

Charles Hildreth Murdoch Add to ...

Frontiersman, warrior, engineer, business leader, family man. Born July 31, 1922, in Banff, died Aug. 28, 2012, in Burlington, Ont., of natural causes, aged 90.

Chuck was the youngest in a family of five, spending his early years in Banff, where his father managed the Bretton Hall Hotel.

At the age of 8, Chuck was free to follow guests or ride alone on Sulphur Mountain on an old stallion named Boob.

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During the Great Depression, the hotel burned down and the family moved east to Montreal.

In 1941, Chuck joined the 17th Royal Canadian Hussars Reconnaissance Regiment, and at age 18 he left North America to fight in the Second World War for more than four years.

Chuck and his Humber Armoured Car crew landed on the Beaches of Normandy and fought in the battles for Caen and the Falaise Gap. They chased the enemy north through France into Belgium and Holland.

On Oct. 6, 1944, in the Battle of the Schelde at the Leopold Canal, Chuck was blown off the road into a flooded ditch by artillery shells twice during the same evening. Although he was injured, his mind cleared 10 days later and he was back in action.

After the war, Chuck was one of 6,000 men who boarded the Queen Elizabeth I for the trip home, sailing from London to New York. The ship passed through a massive hurricane with waves 90 feet high. Rogue waves hit them sideways. The ship’s hull plates were bent, and the crossing took seven days instead of the usual four.

In 1946, Chuck attended refresher classes and earned his high-school diploma. A degree in mechanical engineering followed and, eventually, an MBA from McGill University.

While at McGill, Chuck met Christina Thompson, who was also an army veteran. They married on July 1, 1950, the year Christina graduated with her bachelor of science. They had four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Chuck had a very successful engineering and management career at Stelco after moving to Hamilton’s Hilton Works in 1961. He was particularly proud of his leadership role in building Stelco’s Lake Erie Works in the late 1970s. It was a major project costing over $1-billion that continues to generate more than 1,300 jobs today.

Sandy Adam, who worked with Chuck at Stelco and went on to become a senior vice-president with Toyota Canada and president of Algoma Steel, said Chuck was always calm under pressure, rallied his team, and always attacked the problem, never the people.

Chuck retired in 1984, and he and Chris spent winters in Naples, Fla., volunteering at the Everglades Conservancy. Chris greeted alligator tour boats while Chuck was the resident bird expert up on the boardwalk.

At the age of 90, Chuck was still registered as a professional engineer and had been a fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada for over 32 years.

His son Charlie spent Chuck’s last three years with him chronicling his father’s experiences during the Second World War.

Chuck died quietly and comfortably with his loving family by his side in Burlington, Ont.

To submit a Lives Lived: lives@globeandmail.com

See the guidelines to share the life story of someone you’ve recently lost. tgam.ca/livesguide

 

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