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Col Charles Pence “Charlie” Alter

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Col Charles Pence “Charlie” Alter

  • Birth 10 Jun 1922 Frankfort, Clinton County, Indiana, USA
  • Death 22 Feb 2009 Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois, USA
  • Burial Body donated to medical science, Specifically: Requested his body be donated to the University of Iowa College of Medicine for scientific research
  • Memorial ID 34936596

Colonel Charles P. Alter, U.S. Army (Ret.), 86, of Moline, died Sunday, February 22, 2009 at his home.

Memorial services for Colonel Alter will be 10:30 am, Saturday, February 28, 2009 at St. John's Lutheran Church, Rock Island, where military rites will be conducted. There will be no visitation.

It was Colonel Alter wish that his body be donated to the University of Iowa College of Medicine for scientific research.

Charley was born June 10, 1922 in Frankfort, Indiana the son of Ross Alter and Helen Pence Alter. He married Mary Fraher on June 16, 1978 in Rock Island.

Colonel Alter served 30 years in the US Army and advanced from Private to Colonel in the regular Army. He had a variety of assignments as an Electrical, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineer. He also served as a pilot, troop commander and teacher.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Kathleen and four children and their spouses, Michael and Megan, Bremerton, WA; Timothy and Jane, Columbus, IN; Jan and Jim, Indianapolis, IN; Peter and Andrea, Oak Park, IL; grandchildren, Taylor, Jenah, Ethan and Lily.

Colonel Alter was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Ann.
The following is the text from an article in the Moline Dispatch on 26 Feb, 2009
The friends of Charles P. "Charley" Alter remember him as a wonderful neighbor, a really good Rotarian and a strong advocate for education.

The retired Army colonel died Sunday at his Moline home. He was 86.

Sonia Cervantes, a Moline neighbor for the past two years, said Mr. Alter was "a wonderful neighbor," the kind who never can be replaced.

"He accomplished so much in his life, even in the end," Ms. Cervantes said. She added it touched her that Mr. Alter wanted his body to be donated to science.

"That's Charley, a man to admire, even in the end," she said.

"Poppa Charlie," as he was known to neighbors, was "the ultimate neighbor" to John and Nina Golden and their sons, who lived near the Alters for 15 years.

"Charlie brought his own version of wisdom" to their sons, Mrs. Golden said. "He always took time to sit on the patio and impart that wisdom with humor."

A teacher to the end, he once talked about ham radio operations to their youngest son's Boy Scout troop and developed a special relationship with their middle son, Ben, an Eagle Scout and college junior majoring in pre-med. Ben and Charlie said their goodbyes by phone the day before Mr. Alter died.

"He was a terrific neighbor," Mrs. Golden said. "He will be missed. Our family was very blessed to have known him."

Friends said the Alters were best friends who diligently worked together in their yard, especially after a storm last year damaged plants and destroyed a shed. Despite declining health, Mr. Alter often was seen pushing a wheelbarrow during the cleanup.

"Charley loved his garden," said Duane Swenson, a fellow Moline Rotarian who succeeded Mr. Alter as club secretary. "He had a dry sense of humor, and he was enthusiastic about everything he did."

One of his greatest joys was sipping Jack Daniels during afternoon conversations with friends, Mr. Swenson recalled. He also loved his golf game with a retired general at the Arsenal.

An avid ham radio operator, his call letters were on his car license plates.

Jim Scott, past president of Moline Rotary, said he remembered Mr. Alter with his trademark pipe, which he smoked behind the wheel of his red Cadillac Allante convertible.

"He could be opinionated, but loved his family, church and Rotary," Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Swenson agreed.

"If Charley didn't like something, he'd let you know," he said.

Col. Alter served 30 years in the U.S. Army. His last assignment was director of research, development and engineering for conventional military weapons, directing technical and administrative functions for 1,600 scientists and engineers at the Rock Island Arsenal and installations at Watervliet, N.Y., and Philadelphia.

His other military assignments included chief of combat surveillance for the Target Acquisition and Night Vision Commodity Office and chief of the accelerator division of the Armed Forces Radio-biology Institute at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

He served in the Pacific theater during World War II, in Okinawa from 1952 to 1954 and in Korea from 1963 to 1964. He was a pilot, troop commander and teacher who, upon his retirement, received the Army Legion of Merit Award for outstanding service.

Following his Army career, he worked 10 years in Augustana College's development office.

"Charley was a strong advocate of education and Augustana," Mr. Scott said. "He was quite proud of this."

He joined Moline Rotary in 1979 and served on many committees. He also served on Moline Rotary's Youth Exchange Committee and had a sixth sense about kids, Mr. Swenson said.

He and his wife established the Moline Rotary Augustana College Scholarship that annually provides a Moline student with a $1,000 scholarship for each year, as long as the student maintains a grade point average specified in the scholarship guidelines. He and his wife interviewed the finalists.

Last year, the Moline Rotary Club board conferred honorary membership on Mr. Alter in honor of his life accomplishments. He will be remembered as "a real good member of Rotary," Mr. Swenson said.

"Uncle Charlie" was a Volunteer Examiner with the Green River Amateur Radio Society, a local HAM Radio club, and enjoyed Field Day "with the guys". He helped more than a few new (and older) HAMs with his vast knowledge on so very many subjects. He is remembered fondly..and often.

Family Members


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  • Maintained by: Mark Orey
  • Originally Created by: Judy
  • Added: 18 Mar 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 34936596
  • Mark Orey
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Col Charles Pence “Charlie” Alter (10 Jun 1922–22 Feb 2009), Find A Grave Memorial no. 34936596, ; Maintained by Mark Orey (contributor 46569820) Body donated to medical science, who reports a Requested his body be donated to the University of Iowa College of Medicine for scientific research.