Charles McCutchen

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Dr. Charles Walter McCutchen
Charles McCutchen.JPG
Dr. McCutchen’s favorite Fay&Bowen boat – said to be the first motorized boat on Lake Placid
Born(1929-03-09)March 9, 1929
Princeton, New Jersey
DiedSeptember 16, 2020(2020-09-16) (aged 91)
Bethesda, Maryland
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma mater
  • Princeton University
  • Brown University
  • Cambridge University

Dr. Charles Walter McCutchen was a physicist whose wide range of scientific studies and interests included aerodynamics, joint lubrication and scientific fraud. He published numerous research papers in a wide variety of publications over his entire working career which continued until his death.

Early life

Dr. McCutchen grew up in Princeton, NJ and spent summers at his grandfather's 160 acre family camp on the shores of Lake Placid in New York state. His grandmother, who was a well known citizen of Plainfield, NJ and a member of the Shakespeare Society, named the camp 'ASULYKIT' ("As You Like It"). The camp provided the ideal place for Dr. McCutchen to study natural history and pursue interests in aviation, hydroplanes and windsurfing, and in later years to enjoy cruising the lake in a fully restored 100 year old classic wooden motorboat.[1]

Dr. McCutchen's grandfather, in addition to being a successful businessman and banker, built the Hotel Harrington which opened in Washington D.C. in 1914. Following in the family tradition, Dr. McCutchen became president of the Harrington Hotel Company in the 1980's and in 2014 the hotel celebrated its 100 year anniversary. To this day the Harrington continues to be the oldest continually operating family owned and operated hotel in the District.[2]

For over 35 years Dr. McCutchen worked for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland and published numerous articles on joint lubrication.[3] Another area in the field of science that developed into a lifelong passion was what he termed "Scientific Fraud". Dr. McCutchen devoted many years of his life working to expose what he saw as abuses to the system governing scientific research and grants, and contributed to several websites devoted to his views on these matters.[4]

Another of Dr. McCutchen's passions was the McCutchen Family Foundation begun by his family in 1956. His father and his aunt Margaret both suffered from Acromats Disease (a debilitating eye disease) and the foundation provided research funding to help spread educational advice about the disease. To this day the foundation continues to provide scholarships and financial assistance to local, national and international charities that alleviate poverty, provide medical treatment, disaster relief and educational opportunities.[5]

Upon news of Dr. McCutchen’s death, heartfelt letters of condolence were received from over fifty worthy organizations supporting the communities where the McCutchen family lived for the past three generations. A sample of these notes received by the trustees of the foundation follows:

  • Adirondack North Country Association
Our most sincere condolences on Charlie’s passing. He meant so much to our work. His friendship & insight over the years made him one of our closest supporters. We are grateful for all he has done for this region through his support-not just for ANCA but for so many organizations working to make life better in this part of the world.
  • American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
On behalf of the Weizmann Institute of Science community, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences on the passage of Charles McCutchen. With you we celebrate his rich and productive life and mourn his untimely passing.
Dr. McCutchen taking camp visitors for a ride on the lake
  • Black Student Fund
I also want to extend my condolences on the passing of Dr. Charles McCutchen to his family and the Foundation. I wish to acknowledge the accomplishments of Dr. McCutchen. His scholarship, business leadership and philanthropy touched many lives and is a lasting legacy of good. 
  • Caius Foundation
On a sadder note, thank you for informing the foundation and Gonville and Caius College of Dr. McCutchen’s death. We never met but he was the subject of a two-page spread in the college magazine a dozen years ago. The article was based on an interview my colleague, Mick Le Mopignan, was lucky enough to secure on the shores of Lake Placid, lucky fellow. What a fine picture it painted of a Caian interested in physics, chemistry, aircraft-and motorcycles. He’ll be missed. We shall not see his like again soon.
  • duCret School of Art
We are so sorry to hear of the passing of Charles McCutchen. His support of ducret has been a lifeline for the Arts in Plainfield. The McCutchen Foundation has had an impact and ducret has benefited greatly.
  • Faith Baptist Church
I know that Mr. McCutchen passed from this life into eternity recently. We want to offer our condolences to all those who were close to him. He clearly loved his employees and honored them in a manner that had benefited our church over the years.
  • Historical Society of Plainfield
On behalf of the Historical Society of Plainfield, I extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to you and the staff at the McCutchen Foundation on the passing of Mr. Charles McCutchen. He was a great benefactor to the Society and Drake House Museum, and he will be missed.
  • Institute for Advanced Study
We were greatly saddened to learn of Charles’ passing. He played a vital role as a Friend of the Institute and supporter of our mission for over twenty years. Please accept our deepest sympathies as we mark IAS’ ninth decade of existence, it is the vision and support of donors like Charles and the McCutchen Foundation that have allowed us to reach this milestone and to continue advancing knowledge in the humanities and sciences.
  • Muhlenberg Foundation
I was very sorry to hear that Dr. McCutchen has passed away. Having worked for the Muhlenberg Foundation since 1994, I remember conversing with him about Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center and other topics concerning Plainfield.
  • High Peaks Hospice
Although I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. McCutchen in person, I have deeply felt the results of his generosity. May he rest in peace, and comfort to family and friends.
  • Institute for Justice
I am saddened by the loss of Mr. McCutchen whose inspiring support of IJ helped us protect many Americans from unjust government action. It was a privilege to work alongside him to fight for liberty. Rest assured that we will fight for the shared values that he held dearly.
  • Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey
We were saddened to learn of the passing of Charles McCutchen. His legacy of philanthropy will greatly benefit many organizations for years to come. He was a generous benefactor and he will be missed.
  • King’s Daughters Day School
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, staff, children and families, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the McCutchen Foundation on the passing of Charles McCutchen.
  • Lafayette College
I was very sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Charles W. Mc Cutchen. I write today on behalf of the Lafayette College community to offer our condolences to the members of your philanthropic organization regarding the loss of your wonderful colleague. As we continue to conduct research in the McCutchen Foundation Microscopy Laboratory, which is located in the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, Dr. McCutchen will be remembered and honored by the Lafayette College community.
  • Lake Placid Public Library
We are very sorry to hear of the passing of Charles McCutchen. He has been a valued friend and supporter of the library for many years. We were looking forward to telling him that we completed a standing seam roofing project this summer with help from his support over the years. We never would have been able to accomplish this goal without the continued support.
  • Marquand Park Foundation
Please accept the board of trustees’ condolences on the passing of Charles McCutchen. Mr. McCutchen’s and your foundation’s support of Marquand Park over many years have been remarkable and a true game-changer in terms preserving and enhancing this open space refuge.
  • National Kidney Foundation
Charles McCutchen’s legacy will live on in our work. His generosity has meant a great deal to the National Kidney Foundation. Please accept our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
  • Parkinson Alliance
Please accept our condolences on the passing of Mr. McCutchen.
  • Paul Smith’s College
I am so very sorry to hear of Mr. McCutchen’s passing. I did not have the pleasure of meeting him, but I had heard he was a wonderful man. I certainly appreciate how generous he was to our College.
  • Plainfield Symphony
We also send our condolences to the Trustees, family and loved ones of Dr. Charles W. McCutchen. His good wishes and philanthropy for Plainfield, his Grandmother’s City, have been transformative and sustaining to our Symphony. We hope that Dr. McCutchen understood during his lifetime how much his generosity meant to us and our patrons and supporters.
  • Planned Parenthood
We are so appreciative of the Foundation’s support. For 39 years Dr. McCutchen impacted many patients’ lives at Planned Parenthood. We are so sorry for your loss.
  • Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad
We were sad to learn of Mr. McCutchen’s passing, and even more so because we hardly knew him. Please accept our heartfelt condolences.
  • Salvation Army-Plainfield
It is with great sadness that we have received news of the passing of Dr. McCutchen. We hope and pray the family and friends who knew him will continue to be comforted and find hope in the memories of him. Though he may not be here to continue spreading hope and joy in person, his legacy lives out through the impact of his generosity to the Plainfield Corps. and community. We are deeply appreciative of the support Dr. McCutchen gave to the Salvation Army and the humanitarianism he displayed for his beloved community of Plainfield through his giving. In my last conversation with Dr. McCutchen he shared with me his family history in Plainfield and why he loved it so and supported the work of the Salvation Army there. If there are plans in the future for a public memorial to celebrate Dr. McCutchen’s life and service, the Salvation Army would be honored to present a memorial to the McCutchen Foundation in Dr. McCutchen’s memory.
  • Salvation Army-Washington D. C.
On behalf of the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command. I want to first express my condolences on the loss of Mr. McCutchen. We have been the grateful beneficiary of his compassionate generosity since 1989. So sorry for Mr. McCutchen passing away. It is our privilege to pray for his family and friends.
  • Seeing Eye
We were very sorry to learn of Charles McCutchen’s passing. Please extend our sympathies to his survivors. Thanks to Mr. McCutchen’s generosity his legacy will endure at the Seeing Eye.
  • Service Corps of Retired Executives
We recently became aware of the passing of Charles McCutchen and wish to convey our condolences to the McCutchen family and everyone that has worked with Mr. McCutchen at the Foundation.
  • Wild Center
All of us here at the Wild Center were saddened to hear of Charles’ passing earlier this year. He was a fine person and a good friend to the museum, we will miss him.

Dr. McCutchen leaves behind many devoted friends and colleagues in addition to all the employees of his hotel, many with 30 or more years of service, who saw him not just as an employer, but a friend and respected father figure. His wit and humor will be missed by everyone who ever knew him.


  1. "Gee I wonder if ...?" (PDF). Once a Caian.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. "Hotel Harrington - Our History". Hotel-Harrington.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. "The frictional properties of animal joints".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "Dr. Charles W. Mccutchen, Appellee/cross-appellant, v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,appellant/cross-appellee, 30 F.3d 183 (D.C. Cir. 1994)".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "McCutchen Foundation".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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