Charles Sewall Roehm
Charlie passed away in the early morning of March 1, 2018 at home with his family.
Charlie was a California native with deep roots in colonial America. He was born March 11, 1930 in Alhambra, CA to Margaret Hanlon and Chauncey Sewall Roehm. Charlie was the eighth generation to carry the Sewall name—a prominent name in pre-revolutionary Massachusetts. Among his ancestors he could count officers of the Continental Army, eminent jurists, legislators and Abolitionists, author Louisa May Alcott and Judge Samuel Sewall, the judge who recanted at the Salem Witch Trials. As a lifelong student of history, Charlie was proud of his ancestry but loved the fact that he grew up out west, during what he would surely call the “golden age” of Los Angeles.
Charlie graduated from South Pasadena-San Marino High School and attended Pasadena City College for a short time before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. Trained as a B-26 navigator/bombardier, Charlie was stationed at various U.S. bases before he landed a dream assignment flying weather missions out of Nice, France. It was the early ‘50s and as Charlie said, a great time to be an American in Europe.
Charlie retired from the Air Force but remained in the reserves serving with the Civil Defense Corps and earning the rank of Captain. Having fallen in love with the south of France, he headed to Santa Barbara, America’s Riviera. He enrolled at UCSB under the G.I. Bill and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. In 1958 he married Judy Grant and they moved to Mesa Lane to start their family that soon included three children, Kurt, Kate and Meg. They divorced in 1982.
During college Charlie worked for Roy E. Gammill Men’s Clothing. Upon graduation, he took his graphic skills to the Neal Feay Company and later worked for Pickett Industries, a division of Times-Mirror Corporation, producing slide rules. Charlie started his own business, Roehm Engineering Graphics, and became an important partner in the nascent local tech industry as he provided specialized screen printing services to companies such as Circon, Delco, Raytheon, Infared Industries, Medtronics and others. He printed industrial labels and directly on instruments, computer housings, dials and motherboards and produced specialty advertising pieces. He was particularly proud of the small contributions he made to the manned space missions as one of his slide rules accompanied Apollo 11 astronauts and his labels are on items left on the moon. He volunteered with the Santa Barbara Jaycees mentoring high school students in industrial arts and was an advisor to Vocational Instruction in Public Schools (VIPS) as well as an advisor to the Graphic Arts Program at Santa Barbara Community College. He served as president of the Graphic Arts Industries Association and as a vice-president of the Greater Santa Barbara Ad Club.
Charlie loved cars, planes, boats and motorcycles and throughout his life he indulged his passions. As a teenager in South Pasadena he was active in the Model Plane Club—this before climbing into the real deal when he joined the U.S. Air Force. In Santa Barbara he raced motorcycles with the Santa Barbara Motorcycle Club and was a member of the American Federation of Motorcyclists. In the 1960s he participated in the historic Santa Barbara Road Races that took place at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. He was an avid Formula 1 and Indy Car racing fan and enjoyed an occasional trip to experience the thrill in person. For many years he sailed a Victory 21 sailboat with fellow sailors in the Santa Barbara Sailing Club. Until his legs gave out, he enjoyed bicycle touring and participated in several long rides. With his first family he orchestrated backpacking trips to national parks and wilderness areas. After retirement, he discovered golf and so enjoyed his weekly games with the men’s group at the Muni.
In 1985, Charlie married Tish Gainey and started another chapter in his life as they welcomed their son Andrew into the world. Charlie enjoyed being a dad all over again and could be seen on the sidelines at countless soccer and baseball games.
If Charlie liked something, he was “all in”. He loved living in Santa Barbara, his American Riviera; he loved his dachshunds, Prizzi, Lucky, Oscar, Angel and Rosie; he loved a good meal and a glass of merlot—especially when shared with friends and family. He loved classical music, science fiction and fantasy—whether a good book or a movie. He loved his BMW M-3 and Mini-Cooper. And he was the consummate Angels fan after following the team from its time in the Pacific Coast League. No one enjoyed an Angels game more than Charlie and he stuck with his team through thick and thin, finally seeing them win a World Series in 2002.
Charlie was a good man and an honest soul and someone who knew how to accept life’s ups and downs and leave the drama to others.
Charlie was predeceased by his parents, his daughter, Katherine Hogenson and daughter-in-law, Janet Roehm. He is survived by his wife, Patricia “Tish” Gainey, his daughter Margaret (Michael) Perry, his sons Kurt and Andrew, and his grandchildren Rianna Roehm, John and Margaret “Peggy” Hogenson, and Michael and Mia Perry.
A celebration of Charlie’s life will take place on Friday, April 13 at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Montecito.