Mr. Charles Topalian, a charismatic man who was diminutive in stature but a giant in work, service, and family, passed away in Murray, Utah on November 14th, 2020 after a dynamic life of 92 years deeply touching all who knew him.
Born in Queens, New York to Arshag and Elbis Topalian, with brothers James, Donald and Archie who did not survive him. He was a fortunate product of old-world values and goals coupled with new opportunity past the Depression and World War II. Into this frame of American history he took a personal ethic of hard work and never-ending dedication to his school work, military career, and family. Educated in New York Public Schools, he attended Queens College, answered his country’s call for Korean Service, and then graduated from Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, with a degree in Chemical Engineering.
Charlie’s love of country and service to others defined all the parameters of his life. As a munitions expert in the Korean War, he spent two years in active duty in a high-risk environment. That was to become the bulwark of his career, as he then spent 40 years in civilian employ of critical phases of our military and rocketry sciences, working all through the western USA on our leading cold war projects, such as the Atlas, Poseidon, and Minuteman missile systems. Every Memorial and Veteran’s Day Charlie could be found in public, at services, still fitting in the uniform he wore in 1950.
Family was a rock for Charlie, since he met the love of his life, Elizabeth Burke, in 1957, to marry her in 1960. They had three children, Debra (married to Jeff Arbogast, Sandy, UT), James (married to Thelma, Herriman, UT), and Hope Evens Topalian, of Austin, TX. His grandchildren are Daniel Topalian, married to Amy, in Cedar City, UT, Jeremy Topalian, married to Korrie, in Sandy, UT, and their daughters Skyla and Kylee, Zach Evens, married to Melissa, in Austin, TX, Carly Evens, of Austin TX, and Haley Topalian with Junior Garcia, of Pleasant Grove, UT. He was also blessed with the 3 great grandchildren, Emilio Garcia of Pleasant Grove, UT Maren Topalian of Cedar City, UT, and Alaina Evens, of Austin, TX, with another great-grandaughter soon on the way. He supported every one with time, love, and anything they needed.
But Charlie’s service did not end with those lucky enough to be in his family. He spent many years following his retirement in volunteer service with several school districts, becoming known as “Mr T” the mathematics whiz and guru. He loved nothing more than the time he got with a class teaching the basics of math, and then ending with a riddle that only his best and brightest could handle. He would also attend schools in uniform to celebrate various military holidays, and cultivate relationships with elementary students all over the southern side of the Salt Lake valley.
His variety was endless as well. A lifelong Utah Ute fan, he played tennis, invested in stocks, and always knew the price of gold and silver to the penny and minute. Passionate about politics, he could enter into any discussion with a huge knowledge base that would do Washington and Hamilton proud.
Family and friends will miss him often, but the mark of Charlie’s life will always be that so many will have so much to remember, and the smallest thing will pop up any day and make you think of an anecdote or incident that was uniquely, “Charlie.” When you hear, “Thank the Lord!” you will always think of him.
He will be interred at Camp Williams Cemetery on Friday, November 20th at 3:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation for the funeral expenses.
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