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Charles D. Wrege Obituary

 

Charles D. Wrege 

(1924 - 2014)

 Charles Wrege

Charles D. Wrege, the Academy of Management's Historian and Archivist, passed away on Tuesday, August 19, 2014, at his home in Spring Lake, NJ. Chuck - to his friends and colleagues - was born on March 11, 1924, in Newark, NJ, where he attended Arts High. An active and dedicated scholar throughout his life, he presented his most recent research findings at the 2014 Academy of Management meeting in Philadelphia via Skype just eight days before his death. 

Chuck's academic areas of interest ranged from old street cars and buses to World War II photography to Frederick W. Taylor to the Hawthorne Studies. He was the author of more than 100 articles and numerous monographs and books, including Frederick W. Taylor: Father of Scientific Management: Myth and Reality, (co-author Ronald G. Greenwood) in 1991; Fact and Fallacies of Hawthorne: A Historical Analysis of the Hawthorne Illumination Tests and The Hawthorne Studies, in 1986; and Spring Lake: An Early History, published in 1976.

During World War II, Chuck served on Guam as a photographer with the 35th Photographic Technical Unit, Twentieth Air Force. After his wartime service, he attended New Mexico Highland University, Las Vegas, NM. He subsequently transferred to Upsala College, earning a B. A. in 1952. In 1955, he completed an M. A. in Experimental Psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he participated in Solomon Asch's famed "line studies" on conformity. Concurrent with attending the New School and working as an industrial engineer at Weston Electrical Instruments Company in Newark, he enrolled in    New York University, earning a M.B.A. in 1956. He received his PhD at NYU in 1961 under the direction of John Glover. From 1956 to 1961, Chuck was on the NYU School of Commerce faculty. In 1961, he joined Rutgers University, retiring from the School of Business in 1991.

Chuck's work in management history was unmatched in its depth and breadth and was also highly regarded in other disciplines, particularly the history of science. He drew on unique materials and resources uncovered over many years of field research. The extensive Charles D. Wrege Collection of management history documents and photographs is housed at the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

Chuck was predeceased by his wife Beulah ("B") Marion-Cippel Wrege. "B" and Chuck first met in November, 1949, as fellow employees at Ohrbach's department store in Newark, where Chuck worked as an artist. On December 24, 1949, he asked her to marry him. "B" told Chuck if he used his G. I. Bill to secure his college degree, THEN and only THEN, she would consider his proposal. Chuck pleaded his case twice a day from New Mexico with 902 pages of love letters sent in 105 hand-painted envelopes. They were married on May 28, 1950, in Los Alamos, NM. The story of their life-long romance is told in Chuck's 2003 book A Romance in Watercolors: Paintings by Chuck Wrege for "B" Wrege, written as he convalesced from cancer surgery following B's death on December 23, 2002.  

In addition to his contributions to management history, Chuck will always be remembered as someone who knew so much about so many things, his prodigious memory, his sense of humor, his delight in the iconoclastic, and his never ending quest for answers. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues.

Contributed by Art Bedeian, Dan Wren and Regina Greenwood 

 

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