Charlie Kress of Marion passed away on Jan. 7, 2017, at the age of 84. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; son, John and his wife, Beth and their children, Anna and Ashley; son, Jeff and his wife, Teresa; son, Alan; younger brother, Harold “Butch” Kress; and niece, Suzanne Kress. He was preceded in death by his younger sister, Jo Ann.
He was born Charles Edward Kress in Scottsbluff, Neb., on May 31, 1932, to Harold Earnest Kress and Garland May (Corbin) Kress. After graduating from Scottsbluff High School in 1950, Charlie enrolled at Scottsbluff Junior College. He left there to join the Navy in 1951, serving four years until he was honorably discharged in 1955. He then returned to his home state to attend college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he made the varsity tennis team, lettering in that sport. He also earned academic distinction, gaining membership into Sigma Tau, a national honorary scholastic fraternity in the College of Engineering. Through his dedication and natural ability in mathematics, he graduated from Nebraska in 1959 with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. Shortly after graduation, he was hired by Bell Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio, as an engineer. While working at Bell, he earned his master of science degree in electrical engineering at Ohio State University. More significantly, while at Bell, he met his future wife, Pat, who was also employed there. They married on Sept. 1, 1962, in Columbus.
Charlie was hired as an electrical engineer by Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids in 1962, and he and Pat moved to nearby Marion. His dedication, intelligence, integrity and passion for technology led to a successful engineering career at Rockwell Collins and earned him respect throughout the company, culminating in becoming a department head of advanced technology. As department head, Charlie led efforts in designing advanced computer equipment for use in aircraft control and guidance systems. Of particular significance, Charlie led development of the Processor Development Station for the world’s first GPS receivers. He was also the father of the Advanced Architecture Microprocessor known as the Corn Chip, which was the first 16-bit Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor microprocessor. Charlie earned several patents while at Rockwell Collins and led his team to earn many more. Charlie and his team’s innovations allowed Rockwell Collins to lead the industry in modern avionics, aircraft automation and GPS, creating numerous business opportunities for the company. With those innovations and concepts, Rockwell Collins’ industry leadership endures today. He remained with Rockwell Collins for 39 years, retiring from there in 2002. After retirement, he continued his involvement with Rockwell Collins for several years as a contracted consultant.
He enjoyed tennis, basketball and bowling throughout his many years as a Marion resident. He was also active in the community, serving as a longtime member of the Parks board and a longtime member of the YMCA board of directors. He participated in a number of community projects for Marion and the surrounding area. Of particular note, he was recently very active in Waste Not Iowa, an organization dedicated to providing efficient and eco-friendly waste disposal, with an eventual goal of making Iowa a landfill-free zone. He also loved to play bridge.
Charlie had a passion for sports at many levels. He was an ardent supporter and fan of Linn-Mar High School sports, attending as many Linn-Mar basketball and football games as he could, and was the longtime scorekeeper for Linn-Mar’s basketball games, a duty he loved. His avid support earned him entry into the Linn-Mar Athletic Wall of Fame. He was also a stalwart Nebraska Cornhusker sports fan, particularly football, watching and listening to as many games as he could. He also enjoyed watching college and professional basketball. Most of all, however, he loved watching his sons participate in sports during their attendance at Linn-Mar.