CHARLES S. BEIGHTLER
Charles Sprague Beightler, Ph.D., died Sunday, March 27, 2011, at his home in Austin, Texas. After graduating from Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago, Illinois, he entered an accelerated pre-engineering course of study through the U.S. Army’s Specialized Training Program. He served his country in World War II as a radio operator and forward observer with the 71st Infantry, 44th Division in France, Germany, and Austria, earning a Bronze Star Medal for acts of valor in November 1944. He continued to serve as a reserve commissioned officer until 1957. Charles was proud of his service in the military, although he did not brag about or mention it, but he displayed his medals and awards proudly in his home.
After the war, Charles obtained his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1950. He worked as an engineer for Aerona Manufacturing Company, then served his country again overseas in the Korean Conflict in the early 1950s. He returned to the University of Michigan to earn his M.S. in Mathematics in 1954. He worked as a research engineer for General Motors, as operations research analyst for Arthur Andersen and Caywood-Schiller, and as director of operations research for Ernst & Ernst. Ultimately, he returned to academics, serving as instructor in mathematics and engineering while attending Northwestern University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering in 1961.
Charles moved to Austin in 1961, when he joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty at The University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for the next several decades. He joined the faculty in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Over the years, more faculty members were added, and the group was viewed as prominent in the department. Charles authored numerous books and papers and was awarded the Lanchester Prize for best publication in Operations Research in 1967. This textbook has been translated into three languages: Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. He also wrote, with D. T. Phillips, Applied Geometric Programming, published by John Wiley in 1976. For the Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology, Vo1. l, 197, he wrote “Dual Theory.” His awards also included a faculty award for Excellence in Engineering Education in 1971. Charles served as research associate at Stanford University during several summers. He was honored to be a Fulbright Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at the University of Freiburg in Germany from 1971-72. During those years, his five children rapidly learned German, attending school in Freiburg.
In addition to the books mentioned above, Dr. Beightler wrote thirty-five papers in journals and proceedings, presented numerous invited lectures, performed pre-publication reviews of several books for Prentice Hall, supervised a number of master’s theses and Ph.D. dissertations, and received funding for his research from federal and state agencies and the industry. His research covered optimal design in the applicability of geometric programming methodology to large-scale problems, development of optimal flood routing policies to be used to minimize damage caused by flood inundation, and the efficient utilization of exhaustible energy resources.
Charles had many diverse interests, including literature, music, languages, and flying as a private pilot and flight instructor. He especially enjoyed aerobatics in his Stearman biplane. He lived a full life, enriched by his extended family.
Charles was set in his ways – in a humorous sense. Being raised in Chicago, where the first wintery blast comes early, he often appeared on campus in hot Texas just after Labor Day in earmuffs and a scarf.
Reflection on the Lanchester Prize by Professor Emeritus Doug Wilde, Stanford:
Chuck and I first met in the dean's office soon after joining UT Austin. The dean told us that we would be competing to see who would start an Operations Research program. Immediately afterwards, Chuck and I agreed to cooperate rather than compete, our collaboration often taking place in Scholz Garten. Thus, together we wrote the Lanchester Prize book, Foundations of Optimization. The work unified many diverse approaches and became a classic in Operations Research.
Four decades later, the president of a Scottish teacher’s college was accused of plagiarizing the book for his Ph.D. dissertation. It is worth noting that the only words he deemed worth repeating were written by Professor Beightler!
Chuck made his mark, and we will miss him.
William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professor J. Wesley Barnes and Professor Emeritus William G. Lesso.