Charles Atlee

Date(s) of birth and/or death approximate

Date of Birth

January 1st, 1927

Date of Death

April 4th, 2017

Memorial Meeting

Central Coast Friends


Charles was also known as Chuck and Biddle. The Biddle part of his family came to New Jersey in the 1690's. They were part of a group of Quakers who settled on the shore of the Delaware River across from William Penn's home. They set up their town and government using Quaker principles. Down through time Chuck's family remained Quaker. He was born in Philadelphia in 1927 and went to George School, a Quaker School. After graduating from Penn State, he married Susan, his wife for 62 years. Then they went to Mexico to work for the American Friends Service Committee.

After moving to California in1962, Chuck went to the University of California at Davis and became a crop scientist and a horticulturist. He worked to improve farming in Guatemala. Next, he was a professor of Crop Science at Cal Poly for twenty years. After retirement he volunteered for agricultural projects in Africa, Indonesia, and many other countries. He grew many fruits in his own garden and was a member of the California Rare Fruit Growers.

One of Chuck's important achievements was helping to found Earth University in Costa Rica. Chuck introduced many new crops to Costa Rica, including crops that could be sold to the United States and other countries. He was known as the Johnny Appleseed of Central America because he introduced so many new crops. He wanted to train people from Central America and Latin America to grow these crops. He also helped to form a Farmers Cooperative. A group of Costa Ricans, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Costa Rican Government founded the Earth University in Costa Rica. Building the University started in1989; the first class started in 1990; the first class graduated in 1993. Thanks to Chuck, Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, CA, which is an agricultural university, has been very actively involved mentoring Earth University. The students of the university now come from Central America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Chuck and Susan remained active and faithful Quakers throughout their lives. They helped to found the Santa Barbara Meeting, the Santa Cruz Meeting, and the Central Coast Meeting, in San Luis Obispo. There were many years when the Atlees, Will and Anna Alexander kept the San Luis Obispo Meeting going as a worship group. Finally their patience was rewarded and a new Meeting was formed.

Chuck was a wonderful friend! He was low-key, friendly, a gentle teacher, and had a beautiful sense of humor! His particular expertise was in making puns! He said they just came to him out of the blue, starting when he was eight years old. Both Chuck and Sue loved to bicycle, and did so right up to the end. Chuck died April 4, 2017 when he was almost 90 years old. Both Chuck and Sue are greatly missed by our Meeting; their presence has enriched us! Chuck's parents were Charles Biddle Atlee and Lenny Davis. His sister was named Anne Atlee.

Chuck and Sue had two children, Barbara Atlee and Robert Atlee. Barbara had one child, Val Olivry. Robert's children are: Kaela Atlee-Worth, Kendra Atlee-Worth, and Anthony Atlee-Worth.