Charles Walter Magneson passed away at home on Friday, November 17, 2017, at the age of 94. His family surrounded his bedside singing his favorite song, “Home on the Range.”
Charlie was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1923, in Los Gatos, California, to Hazel and Walter Magneson.
He attended Los Gatos Elementary School and graduated from Los Gatos High School. He attended college at Cal Poly until his studies were interrupted by World War II. He joined the Air Force but later fought with the infantry in Germany. When the war ended, Charles returned home and attended San Jose State College. It was there, in the fall at the Registration Dance, that he met his future wife Sally Weld Strawbridge. They were married in 1947 at the Grace Cathedral chapel in San Francisco and celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary last August. Charles attended U.C. Davis majoring in agriculture and graduated in 1949. He and Sally lived in Aggie Village veterans housing at the University and it was then their first child, Leslie Elizabeth, was born.
Fulfilling his lifelong dream, Charlie, Sally and baby moved to the family farm along the Merced River near Ballico and Cressy on land purchased by Charles’ grandfather Carl Magneson in the 1890’s. He joined his sister Laura Beth and brother-in-law Dick Uhrhammer, who had also recently moved to the land. Together they had a successful partnership running a dairy and raising a variety of crops. Eventually an almond orchard was added. Charlie was a Farm Bureau member for many years, was instrumental in forming Cal-Dari in 1960, a Milk Producers Assn. board member and instrumental in forming the independent Modesto Milling Coop in Empire and served as Chairman of the Board. He was a founding member of the Community Alliance of Family Farmers, a Board Member of the Merced County Farmland Open Space Trust. When Charlie was asked what his favorite things were, he answered “corn and alfalfa”.
Over the years, six more children were born to the couple. It was a lively household. During these years, Charlie was a school board member at Cressy School and later at Ballico School. He also was a Boy Scout leader, taking boys on camping trips in the Sierra. As the children grew, Charles and his brother-in-law split their partnership and Charlie and son, Scott, became partners in managing the dairy. Many changes were made on the farm and environmentally friendly improvements were adopted resulting in the current organic dairy. With the help of the American Farmland Trust, the farm was put under a Conservation Easement program. Charlie is also a member of several organizations working toward protecting our fast disappearing farmland, and served as a board member of Valley Land Alliance. Charlie was also active in Democratic politics. Being a diehard duck hunter, he was a member of the Gustine Gun Club, of which his father was a founder. Every summer, either with friends or family, he went camping and fishing in the Sierra, teaching all his children how to fish. In later years, Charlie and Sally went on trips to many countries with Elderhostel and explored Mexico with friends.
Charles is survived by wife Sally, their seven children, Leslie Elizabeth Chiles (Ron), Nancy Lynn Cassidy (John), Robin Moschel Center (Bill), Scott Strawbridge (Pamela Ann), John Forrest (Kymm), Mark Downing (Jan), and Eric Weld (Moira), & Patty Magneson. There are 14 grandchildren: Robert Chiles, Rebecca Foster, Charlie Center, Cody & Scotty Cassidy, Clay & Jake Magneson & Kate Borba, Harmony Verver, Sarah Toews, Chloe Weikel, Clare Magneson, Veronica & Martin Magneson, and 14 great grandchildren.
…Charles is remembered for his kind, loving and peaceful manner, his curiosity and activism on behalf of his community and the larger world, his love of nature, the Sierra, and his cherished family.
Family and friends are invited to gather at the Magneson home on January 20, 2018, at 2 p.m. for a celebration of life for Charles. Please share your memories at www.AllenMortuary.com.