Charles Whitcomb Tuttle, Jr. (1927-2019)


Raised in gentle kindness as a small town country man

Charles Whitcomb Tuttle, Jr., died December 7, 2019 after a brief hospitalization. Charlie lived all his 92 years in Colusa, California. He was born in San Francisco on Aug 21, 1927 to parents, Charles Whitcomb Tuttle, Sr. of Colusa and Oma Retterath originally of Williams, California. His sister Sue was born on his birthday three years later.

The Tuttle family had sailed from England in 1635 to settle in Massachusetts, and eventually New Hampshire. His great great great uncles, the Whitcomb brothers, arrived as young lawyers in San Francisco in 1849, followed later by Charlie’s grandparents who came to live in the prosperous farm town of Colusa in the 1890’s. Charlie’s mother’s family, traveled by covered wagon to California in 1849 to mine gold, and stayed to settle in Williams. As a 4th generation descendent of pre statehood pioneers, Charlie was a proud member of the Society of California Pioneers, the California Historical Society and the Colusi County Historical Society.

Charlie attended local grammar schools, and graduated from The Thacher School in Ojai, California. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy, enlisting while a senior in high school.  He attended the University of California at Berkeley and Davis, graduating with a B.S. degree in Agricultural Economics, and worked initially raising sheep in the coast range, and later, farming in Colusa County. Charlie was a Founding Secretary of the Westside Water District,  a past President of Colusa County Wool Growers Association, and was one of a small group of investors resulting in the building of the Colusa Electrical Generating Station.

In 1952, Charlie married Frances Elizabeth Lowe, (Betsy), also from a pioneer California family that had settled in Woodland, and they raised three daughters. Together they had a wonderful life enjoying the many advantages of Colusa’s adventuresome outdoor, country and social life with friends and family.

Charlie promoted Colusa as a town filled with parks, and large, beautiful trees, as conceived in the original town charter. He was a founding member of the Colusa Tree Commission since its inception, serving for decades up to the present, and he laid out the tree plantings in the Colusa business district. He served on the City and County of Colusa Planning Commissions. He was faithful to the weekly meetings of the Colusa Rotary Club, and was a current member of the San Francisco English-Speaking Union. He was a Trustee of the Katherine Branson School in Ross, California, a member of the Sutter Club in Sacramento, and enjoyed years of hunting at the Colusa Shooting Club.

Charlie was a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, serving on the vestry and in the choir, as a trustee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California Endowment Fund, and as a delegate to seven Episcopal Church General Conventions. He loved the yearly Chocolate Festival held in December at St. Stephens.

Charlie sailed to Europe as a young man in his twenties, and enjoyed traveling to many countries throughout the world, and especially Europe. His family and friends received the benefit from his thoughtfully researched itineraries using his special knowledge of small hotels, exquisite local restaurants, twisted lanes, resplendent cathedrals, and distinctive museums. He would find a special way to travel, booking passage on a freighter, or a local mail boat. He loved architecture, and would gather ideas from his travels to design the houses he built in Colusa for his family. 

San Francisco is  a city Charlie knew by heart. As a boy of twelve, he traveled by himself on the train from Williams, taking a piano lesson in Berkeley and then taking the ferry to visit the sights of San Francisco. Much later, Charlie and Betsy regularly attended the ballet, the opera, the symphony, and plays in the city.  After Betsy died, he invited his many friends and family to accompany him to the ballet and opera performances,  up to the very last months of his life.

His sense of honor, integrity, keen sense of morality and decency, kindness and mercy, and especially his humor will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved him. His historical knowledge of Colusa, and the stories of the town and townspeople as known by his grandparents, parents and his generation were a source of inspired memory. The stories must be remembered now, by all those he told.

Charlie is survived by: his sister Sue Tuttle Noack and husband Kenneth; his three daughters Catherine Ottmar and husband David of Albuquerque, Carole Fruechtl  and husband Fritz of Dayton, Nevada, and Cynthia Sanderson and husband Stephen of Colusa. Charlie has six beloved grandchildren, and twelve great grandchildren, and many, many friends.

We invite you to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 642 Fifth Street, Colusa, at 1:30 PM on Friday, December 13, 2019.   A reception follows at the Colusa Golf Course, 2224 State Hwy 20, Colusa.

Donations instead of flowers to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, or the charity of your choice. ■

12/11/2019 • WPR #2019-1756

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