Charles Grine

Obituary of Charles Grine

Charles H. Grine, a retired oil executive who navigated global markets and shepherded international petroleum supplies for several decades, died Thursday, July 26, 2018, at Foxdale Village in State College, Pa. He was 92.

Born Charles Harry on Sept. 12, 1925, in Tarentum, Pa., he was the second of three sons. Their parents, Genevieve (McFarland) and Edward A. Grine Sr., raised them on 10th Avenue in the borough, but summers often found the family along the Clarion River in Cook Forest, near Clarion, Pa.

Charles went on to graduate from Mercersburg Academy, then enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was made a sergeant in stateside military intelligence, his service related to the Manhattan Project, before receiving an honorable discharge in 1947.

He soon enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania and ultimately earned a bachelor's degree in commerce, in 1952, at Grove City College. He joined Gulf Oil Corp. as an executive trainee and, working in Downtown Pittsburgh, caught the attention of Joan Nancy Beehrman of Banksville.

A whirlwind romance led them to the altar on Jan. 17, 1953, at Dormont United Methodist Church. They were married 64 years, until his beloved Joan's death on March 10, 2017. They had three daughters and lived three times in England -- and once in Bermuda -- before fully retiring in rural Sigel, Pa., near Clear Creek State Park.

Charles introduced his family to the world through an international career that began in 1957, when Gulf dispatched him to London as an oil products supply manager for the Eastern Hemisphere. Joan and the girls followed to England in 1958. He helped Gulf expand and invest overseas during the next decade; contract negotiations and related gatherings took him often into Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

He and the family returned to the Pittsburgh area in 1968. They stayed for six years as Charles coordinated Gulf crude oil sales in Europe and South America, among other duties. The company became the largest seller of crude in the world.

Charles left Gulf in 1974 and joined Charter Co. in London to guide oil sales in Europe and Great Britain, plus acquisitions from Africa and the Middle East. Florida-based Charter named him managing director for European operations and vice president for Charter Trading in the U.S. The family relocated with him to England.

By 1976, the Grines moved back to the U.S. Charles and Joan remade a family retreat and old sheep farm in rural Sigel into a permanent forest home. Resistant to an idle retirement, he managed oil supplies and acquisitions for Warren, Pa.-based United Refining Co.; was named president of Langham Petroleum Ltd. in Bermuda and Langham Petroleum Corp. Ltd. in London; and, for several years in the 1980s, was the New York-based head of Kuwait Petroleum Corp. in the U.S., reporting to the Kuwaiti minister of oil. Charles also became chairman at the parent group of Petrex Inc., a Warren manufacturer that fabricates equipment for the oil industry.

He said he "re-retired" in 1992, but he didn't cease working in earnest until the last several years. The dignity, integrity and gentlemanliness that distinguished his career were Charles' hallmarks outside work, too. A snappy-dressing bon vivant, sportsman and all-around outdoorsman, he kept a tight group of friends from boyhood; delighted in hunting and fly-fishing, particularly in Canada and the western U.S.; and could light up a room with his booming voice, resonant laugh and warm smile. He loved life, its quirks, its curiosities.

He explored those curiosities through books, conversation and travel, educating and inspiring his family at destinations exotic, humble and flavorful. He was a wine collector, martini drinker and culinary aficionado. He made chili with a sous chef and commanded the tractor with a buoyant joie de vivre.

At home on the farm, he wasn't above a merciless squirt-gun battle or turning the garden hose on the family. On Christmas mornings, a disembodied "Ho, ho, ho!" left grandkids wondering whether Santa was still in the house. Generous, adventuresome and protective, he found his greatest joy and pride in his family. His long life allowed him to know, love and cherish five generations.

His memberships included First United Presbyterian Church in Tarentum and Pollock Lodge No. 502 Free and Accepted Masons, also in Tarentum, where he belonged for 71 years. He was involved in many other branches of Freemasonry, being a longtime member of Jaffa Shrine A.A.O.N.M.S. He volunteered to transport pediatric burn survivors for care.

Several years ago, Charles and Joan moved from rural Sigel to State College. In Foxdale Village, they found a peaceful, supportive home of kindness and affection. The Grine family thanks the entire Foxdale community for its outstanding care and ongoing friendship.

Charles is survived by his daughters, Suzanne J. Grine of State College, Charlotte Grine (Robert I.) Friedman of Narberth, Pa., and Sally Grine of State College; three grandchildren, Daniel Friedman of Narberth, Emily Friedman of Narberth and Adam B. (Alexandria) Grine, nee Adam Smeltz, of Ingram, Pa.; a sister-in-law, Phyllis (Rutt) Grine of Oakmont, Pa.; and numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to his wife and parents, Charles' brothers -- Edward A. Grine Jr. and Robert Grine -- preceded him in death.

The family is holding a private celebration of life. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Training and Tuition Reimbursement Fund at Foxdale Village, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College, PA 16801, or to Office of Development, Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607. Donations to the latter may be designated for the transportation fund.

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.

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