Farewell to Charlie Strang

Charlie Strang photo courtesy Strang Funeral Home

Charlie Strang
photo courtesy Strang Funeral Home

Mercury Marine released a statement saying “Mercury Marine mourns loss of Charlie Strang” on 13 March 2018.

In that statement, Mercury notes Charles “Charlie” Strang served as Carl Kiekhaefer’s top engineer for 13 years at Mercury Marine. He later served as Director of Outboard Marine Engineering (OMC) and later CEO and Chairman of the Board. Mercury notes, Charlie Strang was also known as the creator of the sterndrive engine, sketching the first sterndrive in 1948 while attending MIT. Mercury credits his mother, Ann, for the “famous Mercury Phantom Black engine color”.

The press release notes Strang was a very popular figure in both the marine and NASCAR industries and was National Commissioner for NASCAR from 1998-2008.

“Charlie was an avid powerboat racing ambassador and a brilliant engineer,” said John Pfeifer, Mercury Marine president. “He loved engines and loved Mercury Marine. We could always count on Charlie to lend his support to the industry. He lived an incredible life and is responsible for a lot of the success we have today.”

Mr. Strang was 96 when he died.

Per his obituary at Strang Funeral home, Charles Daniel Strang, Jr. was born April 12, 1921 in Brooklyn, NY. In 1943, Charlie graduated from Polytechnic University of Brooklyn with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He then enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp and was assigned to Wright Aeronautical Corporation in New Jersey as a test engineer on aircraft engines. About a year later he was sent to a precursor to NASA until 1947. Then he became a Research Associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. In 1951, he became Director of Research at Kiekhaefer Mercury Marine and eventually the Executive Vice President. Charlie is survived by his wife Barbara.

The funeral will be at 11:30AM Sunday, March 18, 2018 at the Strang Funeral Home of Antioch in Antioch Illinois.

Why We Are Covering the Passing of Charlie Strang

We cover the death of Charlie Strang for its historical and personal significance to us and others.

Charlie Strang was well liked by many in the marine industry regardless of their corporate affiliations. He was just a great guy.

There are very, very few people left from that era that played significant roles in the early days of Mercury under the direction of Carl Kiekhaefer.

I worked for Mercury MerCruiser in the early 1990s and had some great experiences there and in the community of Stillwater where I still live. It would have been hard for me to have done that if the stern drive had not been invented by Mr. Strang.

Our coverage of the story of the Invention of the Stern Drive has continued to draw a steady string of traffic for well over a decade. Over time I have had the opportunity to visit with several people who played various roles in that story.

Edgar Rose (left) and Charlie Strang (right) at 25 September 1997 OMC press conference in Chicago. photo by Gary Polson

Edgar Rose (left) and Charlie Strang (right) at 25 September 1997 OMC press conference in Chicago.
photo by Gary Polson

Among the most notable, in September 1997 I was in the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago awaiting an Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) press conference at which we would later learn that David Jones, previously of Mercury Marine, would be taking the reins and leading OMC.

As I waited in the lobby, my eyes caught the name “Charlie Strang” on a gentleman’s name tag. I instantly recognized him for who he was and his historical significance to the industry. I approached Mr. Strang and we had a nice visit. Before we parted, I took a photo of him and Edgar Rose, a past head of Engineering at OMC.

We frequently run across the name, Charles D. Strang, on early Mercury and OMC patents. He set a very high bar for others in this industry to follow.

My community of Stillwater Oklahoma once had over a thousand manufacturing jobs at MerCruiser producing stern drives. Without those jobs, many people would never have settled or stayed here. As I mentioned to my wife, many people met and married there, including some of my family members. While our community will go about its business and very few will recognize his passing, we do and encourage others to as well.

Farewell to Charlie Strang. Thanks for your life’s work in the boating industry and for living your life in manner that commands respect. May we all strive to follow your example.

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