Charles Kenneth Bingham, 88, of State College, died Thursday, December 12, 2013 at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Charles was tall and athletic, reserved but with an easy and unexpected humor and great hair, always. Artist, Designer, Illustrator, Sculptor, Photographer, Outdoorsman, Gardener, Dancer, Teacher: he did it all well and made it look easy. He was born May 31, 1925 in Pittsburgh to Lillian (Lampe) Bingham and Charles Bingham. On December 28, 1957, he married Frances Kroll in Pittsburgh, a union of 55 years that was interrupted only by her death in February of this year. Charles grew up in the era of streetcars and ice trucks pulled by horses, playing stickball in the streets of Pittsburgh. As a youth, he had to wait an extra year before getting his first pair of long pants after breaking a window with a baseball. Along with his similarly knickered brother and buddies, he was a member of "the knothole gang," who watched games at Forbes Field by peering through the holes in the fence, allegedly arriving there by tricycle. His artistic talent was discovered early, as he won radio-sponsored art contests; he consequently attended art classes throughout his youth. He also enjoyed building and flying model airplanes, many of his own design.
Charles entered into the Army Air Corps' officer training program as an Aviator and was trained as a Bombardier at the close of World War II. He continued to hold his private pilot’s license for a period of years. After the war, he completed his schooling in commercial art and began a career as a graphic artist and designer that would span over 60 years. His work took him from James H. Matthews and Pitt-Studios in Pittsburgh, to Curtis-Wright in the Quehanna area of Pennsylvania. Lured by the natural beauty of the area, he moved his family to State College in 1959, where he later worked for HRB-Singer (now Raytheon). In the early 1970s, he opened his own advertising and design studio with his wife and business partner Frances, designing logos, marketing materials, catalogs and packaging for clients such as Telemedia, Corvette America, State of the Art, Lasko, Supelco and Johnson & Johnson. Respected for his ability to convey subject perspective to others, Charles' work encompassed concept design and model development, including techniques for production. Many of his clients became and remained friends with Charles and Frances throughout their lifetimes.
Charles was an avid gardener, a hole-in-one golfer, and a sought-after league bowler. As a keen game bird hunter, he co-founded the Nittany Valley Bird Dog Club in the 1960s. He was a fly fisherman and talented fly-tyer. His deep enjoyment of nature and outdoor pursuits was reflected in his art — his home and those of a lucky few others were graced with his paintings of upland game birds such as grouse, woodcock and pheasant, as well as beloved hunting dogs. His submissions for the National Duck Stamp placed within the final selection pool on several occasions. He produced an especially popular map of native and stocked fishes for the Pennsylvania Fish Commission and illustrated noted books on fly-tying. Beyond his wife Frances and his family, his greatest love was sharing his knowledge and talent with others, something he continued to do to the very end of his life.
Charles had one brother, William Bingham of Bethel Park, and one sister Lois (Bingham) Westbrook of Slippery Rock; both preceded him in death. He is survived by his five children: Stuart Bingham and his wife, Ellen, of Penna. Furnace; Lorraine Barrett and her husband, Donald, of Columbia; Susan Kempton and her husband, Kenneth, of State College; Carolyn Kello and her husband, Nicholas, of State College, and Mary Bingham of Milesburg; and by his five grandchildren: Kieran, Erik, Karen, Nina and Nika. Visitation will be from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, December 16, 2013, at KOCH FUNERAL HOME, 2401 South Atherton St., State College, with a memorial service officiated by Reverend Neil Dadey at the same location from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. Interment with a graveside service officiated by Reverend John Diller will follow at Graysville Cemetery, Route 45, behind Upper Spruce Creek Church, near the village of Graysville in Huntingdon County.
Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.