Charles W. Harris Memorial Park
The Vintage Aircraft Association honored the memory of one of our longtime leaders on Monday, July 23, 2018 when we dedicate Charles W. Harris Memorial Park, or “Charlie’s Park,” during the opening day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The dedication program was at 11:45 a.m. on July 23 will took place just west of the Vintage Hangar, with all AirVenture attendees invited to attend.
The wooded area honors the late Charlie Harris, the Oklahoma resident who died on December 9, 2017, at age 90. He served Vintage in various capacities including National Director, Treasurer, Chairman of Executive Committee, Chairman of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, and Director Emeritus from 1988 to the time of his death.
In honor of Charlie’s love of WWII aviation and naval history, the Ladies for Liberty presented their 1940s musical tribute to the Andrews Sisters at the dedication event. Betsey Kersey, Charlie’s business partner for 53 years was unable to attend. Dan Knutson represented Ms. Kersey and introduced VAA president Susan Dusenbury and Jack Pelton, Chairman and CEO of EAA.
Charlie attended the University of Oklahoma during the summer of 1945 prior to his enlistment as a 17-year-old in the U.S. Navy in July 1945, where he served aboard the fleet cruisers USS Vicksburg CL-86, USS Springfield CL-66, and USS Astoria CL-90. Following his honorable discharge from active duty in August 1946, he enrolled at the University of Tulsa, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in January 1950. He had a long, distinguished business career in Oklahoma, but also had a lifelong passion for vintage aircraft.
In 2001, Charlie founded the Friends of the Red Barn (FORB), the major VAA annual fund-raising campaign to preserve and expand the “Vintage Experience” during the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in convention. He was instrumental in securing two major donations in 2017 to construct the VAA judges’ building, and restore and expand the iconic VAA Red Barn headquarters.
The July 23 dedication was immediately followed by an ice cream social on the front porch of the Red Barn, where the Ladies for Liberty also performed.