Charles "Chuck" Oren Bennett was born January 21, 1928, in Emporia, Kansas. After working a series of jobs in his young life, he went to work at Boeing, a major aircraft manufacturer, first as a guard, then as design illustrator. While working at Boeing he produced detailed drawings of the B-52, the company's four jet engine bomber. Chuck then moved his wife, Miriam and two stepchildren to Denver, Colorado, where he went to work at the aerospace firm of Martin-Marietta. There Chuck produced some of his most notable illustrations, including the Titan rocket, the Space Shuttle, the Mars Viking Lander, and Skylab.
Known for his sense of humor and whimsy, Chuck discretely placed a mouse in most of his illustrations. The mouse became his trademark, even showing up in one of his Skylab paintings. This got him the attention of the media, and even the famous space reporter, Walter Cronkite. When asked why Chuck put mice in his paintings, he replied, "Oh, for the hell of it."
Chuck's remarkable artistic abilities came to him naturally. He had no formal art training. His illustrations were precise and technically accurate, and met the exacting requirements of his high-tech employers. He was a conceptual artist working with the imagination of the engineers and then painting what he believed would be an accurate illustration of his own creative imagination. He once told a friend that he lived in Atlantis in another life, and was a mountain man and trapper in yet another. It was his only explanation for the realism portrayed in his paintings. Chuck won numerous and prestigious awards for his artwork. Some of his pieces for Martin-Marietta are displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
When not painting for Martin Marietta, Chuck painted from home in his art studio. His love for the outdoors and wildlife were the main focus of his artwork, which has been displayed in galleries throughout Colorado and the United States.
Chuck was well loved and respected by many people. His love for life and his sense of humor will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He told people that he would love to take a spaceflight, although he was content with his artwork and the contributions he made. This spaceflight is a way of honoring his desire to take a trip into space.
Chuck, this is for you.
Miriam, Mike, Pat, Bill, Mike, Dayna, Joe, Kodee, Michelle, Missy, Killian, Sonny, Poco and Mason.
A man like him
Is probable out of another time
And certainly out of place.
But in the morning mist
You could still recognize his face
And still hear the pounding
Of his noble heart.
-- son Michael S. Doane