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Obituary - Charles S. Worley Jr., 83

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 05 - September 21, 1995

Charles S. Worley Jr., a retired professor who taught in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, died September 8 after a long illness.

There have been many steps in the upgrading and modernization of the architecture program developed over a number of years and several administrations at Virginia Tech. According to Len Currie, FAIA, who became head of architecture in 1956, "The initial step occurred when Charles Worley was appointed to the faculty and assigned a role in teaching architectural design."

The son of an oil prospector in New Mexico, Worley was to come a long way before beginning his career at Virginia Tech. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering from the University of Oklahoma, he earned a master's in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. While he was there, he was profoundly influenced by the famous architect, Mies van der Rohe, who was the last director of the Bauhaus in Germany.

Robert Dunay, architecture professor and associate dean of finance and administration in the college, described Worley's work: "Charles Worley's house still remains one of the best dwellings in Blacksburg 40 years after it was built," he said. "He managed to combine a timeless simplicity that he acquired from his teacher Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with an informal barn-like spatial character that was indicative of the region to which he had come to live."

After World War II, Worley was hired by Clint Cowgill, the first head of architecture when it was part of the Department of Architectural Engineering in the College of Engineering. Beginning in the late '40s and '50s, Worley's contribution to architecture at Virginia Tech was an important legacy to later visionaries who continued the creation of a nationally recognized College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Former dean of the college, Vice President of Development and University Relations Charles Steger, knew Worley well: "When I was first appointed dean, I always looked to Charles Worley as an individual who would carry the flame of the modern movement in architecture. Through the years, I felt honored to have moved from the status of a former student to a good friend," he said. "We will surely miss him but fondly remember the legacy he left behind."

Worley's long career in architecture at Virginia Tech ended in 1982, and a scholarship was named in his honor.

CAUS Dean Patricia K. Edwards commented, "For 35 years, Charles Worley served the college with his creative talents. He will be missed by us all, especially by the alumni who were his students and members of the faculty who worked with him," she said.

A memorial service for Worley will be held Friday, Sept. 22, at 4:30 p.m. in the Cowgill lobby. A reception will follow in the dean's office. In lieu of flowers, his widow, Margaret Worley, asked that contributions be made to the Charles S. Worley Scholarship Fund.