Charles Getchell Wiley was born in Santa Rosa, NM on February 14, 1922, to Roy Almon Wiley and Olive Van Rensselaer Smith Wiley. Charles died October 19, 2023, in Albuquerque, NM, just 4 months shy of his 102nd birthday.

In later years, Charles enjoyed relating tales of growing up on the family farm near Puerto de Luna, south of Santa Rosa on the Pecos River, including memories of hiking up on the mesas, and swimming in both Twin Lakes and “Stinky Lake”, now re-christened Park Lake. He also learned much about animal and garden care, bee keeping, tending grapevines, cooking, and canning to supply the family pantry for the winter, all skills he used throughout his life.

In addition to farm chores, time was spent working at the Santa Rosa Mercantile/La Tienda del Pueblo, the General Store owned and operated by his grandfather, George H. Smith Jr. There were also often chores to be done at his grandfather’s home, such as chopping wood for the heating and cooking stoves, under the direction of his grandfather’s sister, Charles’ great aunt Mary Smith.

Charles graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1940 as Salutatorian. Following graduation, he entered UNM, and joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Following the attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the entire ROTC unit was sworn into the Navy. After his junior year, July 1943, he was commissioned as an ensign and placed into active duty. He served on the Destroyer Escort USS Richard M. Rowell, in the South Pacific.

At war’s end he returned to UNM and graduated in 1948 with his BA in English, with a minor in Art, influenced by UNM Professor Raymond Jonson and others. He then went to New York and received his Master’s degree at Columbia University, then returned to UNM, earning his Ph.D. in 1951.

Over his career he taught and held administrative positions at: CSU in Fort Collins, CO; NM School of Mines (now NM Tech) in Socorro, NM; Fort Lewis A&M (now Fort Lewis College) in Durango, CO; UC at China Lake, CA; WNMU in Silver City, NM; East Carolina University in Greenville, NC; UND in Grand Forks, ND. He returned to NM in 1970. At ENMU in Portales, NM, he was a Professor of both Art and English as well as the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

Charles grew up surrounded by music and art and literature. His mother Olive was an accomplished pianist and taught each of her boys to play. Both his parents were published writers, and his father Roy was a poet who had put some of his poems to music. His father was also a skilled artist, as was his great-aunt Mary Smith, and he was able to observe both of them as they worked with pen, paint, and other media. Many of their works remain for current enjoyment, including a large macrame room divider made by Mary. Charles enjoyed drawing and painting from early on, and later in life made his own frames for many of his and his father’s works.

He was a supporter of the arts in all of the communities he lived in, participating at various times in drama productions, choral groups and folk dancing. He encouraged his children and grandchildren to experience art exhibits, concerts and productions of all sorts, and to follow their individual artistic interests. Much to his delight, several of them have engaged in creative pursuits.

After his retirement, he returned to Santa Rosa and was joined by his companion Jean Starman at his Grandfather George H. Smith Jr.’s home, where they took up residence. They became regulars at both of the local Senior Centers, and were often seen out and about for their daily walks. They were able to travel, both to spots of interest in the US, as well as some far flung adventures, including India. They enjoyed rock hunting trips as well as other outings, with Jean’s daughters and others. When at home, they often sat on the porch or on the swings, relaxing and eager to chat with those passing by.

Charles was an enthusiastic reader all his life, and spent many enjoyable hours playing chess with friends. He also had a tendency to offer good-natured but unsolicited advice during the “Chinese” checker games of family and friends. He had a penchant for collecting cast iron cookware and other items, and derived a good amount of pleasure from tinkering and repairing items in his unique way. He enjoyed listening to music of almost all sorts. However, during his time in the South Pacific he contracted a fungal infection which affected his hearing, and he became profoundly deaf as he grew older.

Charles was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother George Carter Wiley, his younger brother Roy Oliver Wiley, his first wife Patty Whitcomb Morse Wiley, and his beloved long-time companion Norma Jean Whitten Starman.

He is survived by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Children: Susan Wiley and husband Eric Dillon, Eric Wiley and wife Karen, Katherine Wiley and partner Venisa Wycherly, and Hannah Wiley. Grandchildren: Maegan, Cait, and Lyra Wiley, Ariel Dillon, Stefan Sittler, and Benjamin Sittler and wife Rebecca Middleton, along with their children, Iris, Zinnia, Neil, Wendell, Rigel, and Camellia. He is also survived by his second wife Laura Sitz Williams, as well as several nieces, nephews, and their families.

Contributions may be made in Charles’ name to:
Socorro Public Library
401 Park Street
Socorro, NM 87801
Correspondence may be directed to :
Susan Wiley
P O Box 1631
Socorro, NM 87801

Charles Wiley was cremated by French”s Mortuary in Albuquerque, 505-275-3500