EDMONTON – Charles Oscar Henderson Jr, aged 66, passed away Thursday, May 18, 2023, at his home. He was born December 27, 1957, in Philadelphia, PA, the first son of the late Charles Oscar and Eileen Margaret [Hilferty] Henderson. He grew up with his younger siblings: Michael and Roxanne.
Charles lived as rich and varied a life as his many nicknames. Known variously and at different times to many friends and colleagues as: Charles, Charlie, Chas, Chuck, Chuckles, Oscar, and a few colorful ones not suitable for printing here, he was curious, creative, and inventive. He was a friend,co-worker, and family member to a multitude of different folks and across many years, activities, and trades.
Charles grew up in Wildwood Crest, NJ and attended Wildwood High School. He loved the beach, was a good surfer, and once tried out to join the ranks of the Atlantic beach lifeguards. For Charles, there was no greater solace than when he was immersed in the sounds and smells of the marshes and shore-lines of his beloved southern New Jersey stomping grounds. For sure, he always knew to “Watch the Tram Car Please” and was not impressed when commercial branding was introduced to the Wildwood Boardwalk and its iconic Sightseer trams. Throughout the years, he would revel in introducing many friends, and especially their young ones, to his childhood places, for example an exploration of the Cape May inlet beach and “the rock pile”.
Charles followed his father and mother’s musicality. He was raised on the crackling AM tones of country music from WWVA – Wheeling West Virginia, the Grand Old Opry, his dad’s guitar playing and his mom’s harmonious singing. As a result, Charles became an avid guitar player and singer from a young age. He taught himself to play songs that he loved by ear, for example repeatedly listening to a single groove of a Beatles or other beloved song recording on his record player over and over (and over) again until he could reproduce it with perfect accuracy to the original version. The phrase “tune it or die!” was a motto he used often.
Just out of high school, he formed a band with his childhood best friend and during their glory days, they played in most bars in and around Wildwood. He would meet his wife Cydney at that time and they would go on to have two kids together: Jaime and Christopher. He was always eager to share music with others, especially young folks, for example his daughter. Through the sharing of his music, he would instill in her, as one example, the same love for music that he carried with him throughout his entire life. He often spoke of how music carried him across the most difficult moments of his life, including: the death of his parents and close friends gone on, the end of his marriage and other close relationships, times of isolation on the road driving “big rigs”, and truly in any times of dissonance or loneliness in his life. Whenever Charles experienced hardships, he
found the path back to his guitar would bring him some peace.
His father and mother moved to Pennsylvania and Charles would transition from the family friend’s auto shop to a new career “on the hill” in King of Prussia at General Electric’s Aerospace Division. He was a “go-to” on the team for wiring harnesses and also with critical work in the early days of bonding and carbon fiber for NASA and military space program satellites. He traveled with his family to Florida to see his work take flight into space from Cape Canaveral and his work at GE lives on in satellites from the Reagan era which are active to this day.
Not surprisingly, his aerospace work resulted in a lasting interest in flight of all kinds. Charles took up such hobbies as: Estes rocketry, string control Cox planes, remote control airplanes, stunt kites, aerial photography from foil kites using a remote-control camera controller he built himself, and most recently self-built and wired rotocopter drones. As photography was also a favorite hobby, aerial photography was a cool intersection and he would travel around with friends and take amazing aerial photos before the current days of drone photos. He even did wedding photography from the famous Trumpy Yacht, Enticer of “Some Like It Hot” fame, while underway. Standing on deck where Marilyn Monroe once shot her movie scenes, he flew his foil kite and took incomparable aerial photos of the wedding party which were amazing for those times before the ubiquitous drones of today.
As sometimes happens, Charles and his wife Cydney divorced and new chapters began. He developed many decades long friendships which led to enjoying and sharing his music, hobbies, travels, and intellectual debates and discussions on the news of the day with various friends. This
also led to his work with friends at: Personal Software, Current Music Technology, and Never Ltd. On the work side, those collaborations lead to highlights such as supporting recording and production for professional musicians including the Grateful Dead, Herbie Hancock, Record Plant Remote, and ultimately traveling with David (Bowie), Adrian (Belew), and the Crew to 106 shows around the globe on the Sound and Vision Tour.
Some other professional experiences that he was quite proud of include: living in New York City supporting Wall Street trading rooms with a Mac based market data systems, living in Philadelphia doing pre-press graphical support in the emerging days of desktop publishing tools, and a final run as a long haul 18-wheel truck driver that would provide the path to travel domestically and experience much of Americana.
Of all of the above, the work that came next after GE Aerospace in his list of proud efforts would be his contribution with a group of friends, to the building of the “Mac ’n Rack”, a groundbreaking rack mounted Apple SE30 to bring the go-to Mac platform to a 19” wide rack-mountable, hardened, and road ready configuration. The system was developed during a tumultuous time in his life and it gave him a distraction and sense of purpose that aligned with his love of music and experience in aerospace work.
Charles’ auto shop experience at a family friend’s shop in Wildwood would become a theme throughout his life. Not surprisingly, he developed a love of drag racing and over the years he would introduce as many friends as possible to The NHRA Nationals and always paid for the pit pass. The acoustics of one of those engines running and the eye watering exhaust mixtures would always enthrall him and bring a smile to his face.
Charles loved teaching and playing with kids. He became the consummate “Cool Uncle” to the children of the very friends that he worked, lived, and played with across the years. His joy and pride evident on his face when he brought his own bike to his daughter’s house because his grandson
Donovan was just learning to ride. He loved teaching how to fly two-line kits, enjoyed going sailing where he shared his awe of the aerodynamics of the sail plans and the controlability of the rigs, built and ran/flew RC cars and planes, as well as helped with a myriad of projects. Often on vacation with friends in Cape May NJ, he was always prepared with bat, gloves, and balls to go out and hit a few and would often lead local guided tours of his hometown area. The only thing he refused to teach to kids was music, because he felt his self-taught approach did not qualify him to teach it.
Also of notable pride was the work he did to support the launch of a 501c3 non-profit, Autism Village. His work contributed to this biggest and most successful crowd-funding done to date for an autism related project. The project surfaced in the same group of friends that developed the Mac ’n Rack” when one couple’s son was diagnosed with autism. Charles threw himself into the work to develop all of the digital assets including: photographs, short form videos, web copy, etc. Most importantly, though, was his wonderful relationship with the boy with autism that inspired the project and which continued from birth through to the 21-year-old young man of today. Maybe the best thing possible is that Charles will live on in the man’s autistic mind as vibrant and loving forever since “death” isn’t a concept very much understood by some with profound autism.
Charles had a love of cooking as well, an interesting sort of non-sequitur to his more mechanical, engineering, and computer based interests. With family & friends alike, Charles enjoyed discussing foodie interests and sharing recipes and ideas for the kitchen. Discovering a love of the Alton Brown
tv show Good Eats, he learned about brining turkeys and Thanksgiving was forever improved when he was in charge of roasting the bird.
Like his many nicknames, Charles was made up of a lot of ingredients. He was a complex, thoughtful, intellectual and compassionate man who often carried a good deal of cognitive dissonance as he sometimes held too tightly to a view on some topic or another. Likewise, he brought out complex
emotions in the many people he touched along the way. No matter, the one thing he truly wanted was to love and be loved. He did and he was.
Charles’ parents and brother Michael K Henderson Sr preceded him in death. Survivors include his daughter Jaime Baker and grandson Donovan Baker of Kentucky, his son Christopher of New Jersey, and his sister Roxanne Bouey [Ernie] of Pennsylvania.
Friends and family are welcome to attend a memorial service at the Epicurean Garage in Chester Springs, PA on June 6 2023 from 6 pm to 9 pm. Bring your memorable stories, musical instruments, and melodic voices for an open mic. R.S.V.P. and Sign Up to play at email@example.com. Butler Funeral Home of Edmonton is both honored and privileged to be entrusted with all the local care and arrangements for Mr. Henderson.